IMG_0539IMG_0546Gooseberries are small fruits that are underused in our home landscapes.  They are packed with vitamin C and are wonderful for jams, jellies and cooking.  I have grown them in shrub form in the past but am now trying them in single and 3-column cordons. This makes picking easier around the sharp thorns. The cordon method is popular in Europe because of their smaller gardens.  Gooseberries prefer part sun.

The variety ‘Pixwell’ is on left.  On right is a 2nd year ‘Tixia’ cordon.


Pickled Green Walnuts

I have been wanting to try this for a few years but the key is to remember to harvest the young green walnuts.  They grow quickly.  I just harvested mine in the 2nd week of June in Cincinnati.

There are many recipes but I am following one from  I picked 2 lbs of nuts.  Using rubber gloves, prick each with a pin about 8 times.  I then covered them with a brine of salt and water.  I will change the water in 5 days and add another brine.

Photo of day 1.


2015 – Looking Ahead by Evaluating the 2014 Season

The SE Ohio Region was hit hard by fire blight in 2014.  Let’s start with that problem and examine ways to improve our chances of success this year. Fire blight is a terrible issue when moisture and temperature levels coincide.  Since we never know when that combination will happen, we need to be pre-emptive in our organic spray program.  We also need to note which varieties and rootstocks are most resistant and suseptable.  I have provided a good link that explains the steps that are needed to deal with this disease.

Garden Cover Crop Seed Sale

The Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District has published a brochure to sell cover crop seeds in bulk, 1/4 lb to 10lb bags.  They are offering Crimson Clover, Beneficial Mix and Fall Cover Mix.  The website is  On the left side of the home page, click Cover Crop Sale.  You can also place orders via telephone: 513-772-7645.  These plants would add to the understory diversity of your fruit trees.


Do Your Fruit Trees Need Fertilizer?


Let’s talk about older, established trees first.  It is possible for trees to be quite old and not need added fertilizer.  As you are beginning to prune this month, look at the new growth on the tips of the branches.  You will see a wrinkled scar before the new, smooth growth.  If you have 8-15” of new growth, you do not need to fertilize.  If you need to add fertilizer, go easy on the nitrogen.  You do not want to overly stimulate the vegetative growth.


One way to ensure adequate nutrition each year is to thin the fruit load to one fruit every 7 inches.  Do this after the fruit size is about ½ inch.   The remaining fruit will be healthier and bigger and will keep the branches from breaking. This also helps the tree from bearing every other year.


We discussed creating a diverse under story beneath the tree instead of just grass or mulch.  This has many benefits and one is the decomposition of those plants which will naturally feed the tree.


Young fruit trees will have a lot more growth each year as they are getting established.  If your new trees are not looking vigorous on the 2nd or 3rd year, try mulching out more of the competitive grass and adding a handful of 10-10-10 at least one foot from the trunk.


Of course there are exceptions…..I will write about peaches tomorrow.