Editor’s note: Get Growing, written by the La Plata County Extension Office’s Master Gardener Program, appears during the growing season. It features timely tips and suggestions for your garden and landscape.
By Darrin Parmenter
Can you all feel it? No, not sediment between your toes as you step into the river. It’s the chill.
After what seemed like weeks of hot and dry weather, Monday brought about a cool and cloudy start to the day. Then, on my morning walk with the puppy Tuesday (Did I forget that puppies like to wake up at 6 a.m.?), there was that chill.
That chill that reminds you school is ready to start, that you will once again see your breath and that fall colors in the aspens and Gambel oaks – yellows, oranges, reds and browns – will be making their appearance in less than two months.
In terms of tree fruit (fruit that made it through the spring freezes and frosts), we have progressed through most of the cherries and the apricots, and peaches are just coming on, and the apples and pears are gaining size every day.
Apple tree success is once again sporadic, as those spring frosts and freezes played havoc with blossom failure and death. I’ve seen fewer apples in town, but the north Animas Valley seems to be having better success than last year, when the Hermosa honey-hole was pretty bare.
And with apples (and other fruit, and trash and bird feeders) comes bears. And in case you haven’t noticed, bears love apples almost as much as I love my mom’s apple crisp. But, unfortunately, they typically don’t pick fruit off the branches – they knock the branches to the ground and go from there, frequently destroying or killing the tree in the process.
For those of you with apple trees (and bears nearby) there’s a program – the Fruit Gleaning Program, organized by Bear Smart Durango, Healthy Community Food Systems, the Fort Lewis College Environmental Center and the Colorado State University Extension Office – that can help.
We have created an online bulletin board called the Fruit Gleaning Hub where people who have trees or excess apples to harvest and people who want fruit can connect. It’s a great way to reduce potential bear-human interactions and share the bounty. For more information about the program, visit www.bearsmartdurango.org.
Who knows, maybe some of you will step up and challenge my mom to an apple crisp battle. Just make sure I am the judge.
Darrin Parmenter is director and horticulture agent of the La Plata County Extension Office. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.