I promise the next 550 words, give or take, won’t be about the weather. It’s not like I couldn’t – between the incessant wind, lack of rainfall or temperatures in the mid-90s, I could in fact write about it. But I’m not.
I am tired of this wind. I want it to rain so my farmer friends can be happy. I am losing the battle with irrigating my lawn and now must decide to spend money on turfgrass or electricity to keep the fans in the house turning.
OK, now I’m done. But I really hate the wind.
I am loving the amount of apples I’m seeing on the trees. Last year, much of the county was barren of apples. It wasn’t as if a spring freeze destroyed the flowers, there just wasn’t much fruit to be found.
Jump forward a year and trees are loaded. This phenomenon, called alternate bearing, is commonly seen in apples (and pears, plums and apricots) and can be demonstrated by a big crop followed by no crop at all. Tree owners can moderate this by pruning flowers and small fruit in the spring and early summer. But it is not uncommon for external factors, such as unfavorable weather, or internal factors, where an excessive crop in the “on year” depletes nutrients needed for new fruit buds the next year, to cause alternate bearing.
It can be a bit confusing, and the tree may not always show a distinct pattern. However, all I know is this year, I plan on making a lot of dried apple rings and apple sauce.
HHHI am hating the flea beetles. They seem to have arrived later this year, but their appetite has been one of a teenager. They are shot-holing the leaves, taking what isn’t theirs. I can only assume they are close to being out of here, but because they came late, they may stay late, especially if the plants are more mature.
If you want to get rid of them, we recommend exclusion with floating row covers (too late), vacuums (too embarrassing) or a combination of using a trap crop and some repellents. Try planting radishes away from vulnerable crops (lettuce, arugula, broccoli, cabbage and kale) and then let them feast on the radish tops. With radishes, you can have up to 50% defoliation and still have a successful crop. Around your susceptible crops, sprinkle diatomaceous earth. It has some repellent effect on the beetles.
HHHLastly, I am loving the Grow and Give Program that Colorado State University Extension has initiated this year. Gardeners sign up and commit to giving some of that produce away to those in need. That could be through food banks, or simply sharing with those in our community. We want others to have that opportunity to enjoy fresh produce.
One of my master gardeners wrote about why she joined this program: “I grew up in a gardening family who ALWAYS shared produce. If you were fortunate enough to have food, then you were obligated to share with people who don’t. Food is a right and a responsibility we share, the same way we share the air we breathe. People have graciously shared with me many times in my life, and I will always share what I have. I share because I can.”
Happy Fourth of July to you all. I love fireworks, but I hate human-caused fires. Be safe and be smart.
Darrin Parmenter is the director and horticulture agent of the La Plata County Extension Office. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 382-6464.Darrin Parmenter