Gooseberry

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 http://www.midwesternexposure.wordpress.com.  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.

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Raspberries – Autumn Britten

After giving up on growing raspberries for a number of years I planted 24 Autumn Britten in 2013. I chose this variety because they would bear after the Japanese Beetles passed through our area, around mid to late summer. This year the plants produced a huge crop of well formed berries from August until the mid October frost. I picked about 2 quarts per week, freezing most of the berries to make jam at a later date. They were excellent for jam because of their small, soft seed. I usually mill out most of the seeds when I make jam but this really wasn’t necessary because of the seed texture. Other than top dressing the plants with some composted manure in the early spring, I didn’t apply any other sprays. I did have stink bugs on the plants in the late summer but they only damaged a few of the fruits.

I hope readers who live the in SW Ohio area will share the names of fruits that have performed well for them.

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. http://organic-center.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/TOC_Report_Blight_2b.pdf

Removing Fruit Trees and Bushes

When to remove trees or fruit bushes: the easy answer is when they are dead. Care needs to be taken with the dead plants since they are usually hosting a disease of some sort. Remove and burn the plant or compost it far from your orchard. Remember to clean and disinfect all of your tools afterwards.

For low performing or weak plants, one needs to weigh the plus/minus analysis as to why the plant should stay. If the fruit is wonderful, I will prune, adjust the nutrition and coddle a plant for a few years to see if the vigor returns. After that period, for the health of the whole orchard, I remove any plants that could spread disease to the other trees or have your reaching for the strongest chemicals.

If possible, try to identify the disease that weakened your plant. There are varieties that have greater resistance to specific problems and perhaps you should consider one of those when picking a new tree.
If the plant is healthy but the flavor and quality of the fruit is low, I will remove it as well. There are too many wonderful varieties available to settle for mediocre fruit.

Observation

As harvest approaches for apple trees, it is a good idea to walk around your trees and observe how things look on August 1st. Look at your overall pruning job and take note as to what you should change next year. Is there adequate airflow through the tree? Can sunlight reach all of the fruits? How do the leaves look? And of course the fruit: clean? insect damage? fungal issues? size of fruit?

Each tree has different issues and by observing them individually throughout the season you can address some of those needs pre-emptively next year. Be sure to take good notes in your journal

Summer Pruning

Some pruning can and should be done in the summer months. You do not want to cut big limbs unless they are dead or diseased. Young trees benefit from removing a few branches to help balance the beginning scaffold limbs. Older trees that sucker heavily and start to block sunlight in the upper canopy can also be pruned.

Watch your peach trees to see which branches are blocking the sunlight. Wait to prune those after the peaches have been harvested.

Pear trees are very susceptable to fireblight. If you see any brown, dead branches, remove those and destroy them. Remember to sanitize your tools afterwards.