Michael’s Apples March 2012 Fruit Tree Care and Gardening Newsletter


BARE ROOT FRUIT TREES: I still have bare root fruit trees and some raspberries for sale.  If you need trees this spring, let me know. This year, the trees are scheduled to arrive in mid-March so I will be finalizing my orders in the next few days. Email me at michael@michaelsapples.com to obtain a copy of the price availability list, to reserve your trees or if you have any questions.


  •  Tuesday, March 6, I’ll be giving my Selecting and Growing Fruit Trees talk, at Bartley Ranch Regional Park, Reno, from 6 to 8 p.m. The talk is free and part of the Gardening in Nevada Series, coordinated by UNR Cooperative Extension, Master Gardeners (I have been a MG volunteer since 1996). I will cover recommended varieties, pest control programs and cultural practices. Hope to see you there. For the complete schedule for the Gardening in NV series, go to the UNCE Grow Your Own! website.
  • Wednesday, March 7, I’ll be giving my Pruning and Training Fruit Trees at the UNCE Cooperative Extension office in Reno, from 6 to 8 p.m.  The talk is part of the Grow Your Own! series. The talk is $15 at the door in Reno and is broadcast free to eleven other locations northern Nevada (from Reno to Elko to Duck Valley to Logandale and locations in between). For information on locations and the complete schedule with other Grow Your Own talks, go to UNCE’s Grow Your Own! website.
  • March 8 to 10 is the annual Nevada Small Farm Conference at Western Nevada College in Fallon. I believe the early registration price has been extended to Feb 28, so get hopping. Talks will include animal husbandry, cheese making, egg grading and marketing, beer, beef, billy goats and much more. Don’t’ miss the Friday night dinner and wine tasting. For more info, go to the conference website.

GRAFTING CLASSES: I will give 4 grafting classes this year. Participants will go home with 6 grafted apple trees.

 I will have a good collection of scions available from heirloom/antique, gourmet, and cider apple varieties. I’ll provide 6 dwarfing rootstocks (ELMA 26) per participant, scions, grafting rubbers and parafilm grafting tape. Each participant will provide a grafting knife—I recommend a quality (like Stanley) utility (sheet rock) knife and new blade (the old-style straight, fat-handled, utility knife is better/safer than the ergonomic, curved types). BYOB (bring your own bandages).

Dates, times and locations are:

  • Saturday, March 31, at 1 p.m. at Rail City Nursery, Sparks, NV
  • Saturday, April 14, at 9 p.m. 901 Gordon Avenue in Reno
  • Sunday, April 14, at 1 p.m. 901 Gordon Avenue in Reno
  • Saturday, April 21, at 9 a.m. 165 Bridge Street in Paradise Valley, NV

 Classes will start promptly at the appointed times.

To register and attend the Rail City class, contact and register with Rail City. The cost for the Rail City class is $40 per person.

To register and attend my classes in Reno and Paradise Valley, email me to reserve a spot. The cost for the Reno and Paradise Valley classes will be $35 per person. Classes will be limited to a maximum of 10 participants per class.

 If you would like to graft an apple tree from your grandpa’s farm or the tree over the fence in you neighbors’ yard, you’ll need to collect a scion now while the tree is dormant.  Find a fruiting limb; cut a shoot of last years’ growth. Ideally, the shoot (now a scion) should be about 10 – 12 inches long and the thickness of a pencil; shorter and thinner won’t matter—we’ll make it work. Do not collect last year’s water spouts or any root suckers. Dip the cut ends of the scion in hot candle wax, wrap loosely in a moist paper towel or newspaper page, and put that in a plastic veggie bag. Roll up the bag loosely and place on a tray in your fridge (not in the freezer or the crisper drawer). Oh yes, and label the scion—I use freezer tape and permanent marker. Bring the scion to the class.

ROSES: The Reno Rose Society annual Rose Pruning Demonstration at the Municipal Rose Garden in Idlewild Park has not yet been scheduled. For updates on their upcoming events, go to their website

WATER: Check you soil moisture and water accordingly!

PRUNING: If you haven’t inspected your fruit trees for a while, now is a good time to do so. Usually, fruit trees here at this time of year are still dormant, but with this year’s milder winter, most trees are at the delayed dormant stage. During the delayed dormant stage, buds—especially the flower/fruiting buds—begin to swell.

If you haven’t had time yet, prune your apple and pear trees. I’m holding off pruning stone fruits (peaches/nectarines, plums, cherries) until later in March.

VEGETABLES: In other gardening notes, now is the time to start your spring garden. I planted my peas, fava beans and parsley yesterday. I also sowed a few parsley, arugula and cilantro seeds directly into the soil.

In mid- to late-February, I sprout peas and favas inside in moist paper towels and transplant into the garden when the seeds have split and the root is about ½ inch long. Early planting (now) will allow peas to start producing in May and yield several pickings before they burn up in the June heat.

I also start lettuce, cabbage and spinach from seed in potting soil on the windowsill and transplant the seedlings when they have their second set of leaves.  I plant lettuce about 3-4 inches apart in early march; in April, I start to thin the plants when they begin to touch their neighbor by pulling every other one for ‘spring’ salads.  As the spinach grows, remove the lower or outer leaves a few at a time. In past years, 8 spinach plants provided us salads twice a week through May.



2/25/2012 mgj