Michael’s Apples Releases June 2013 Fruit Tree Care and Gardening Newsletter


June 2013 Fruit Tree Care and Gardening Newsletter

Michael's ApplesGarden Show Off in Paradise Valley: Dori and I are inviting newsletter recipients and UNCE Master Gardeners to visit our backyard orchard on Sunday, June 16, 2013, Fathers’ Day, from 9 am to noon. Email me at michael@michaelsapples.com for the address.

The time and date will put you in Paradise Valley in time to enjoy the annual Paradise Valley Volunteer Fire Department’s Fathers’ Day Picnic (beef-cooked-in-the-ground and fixin’s). The dinner is served around 2 p.m. and well worth the price (which I don’t remember nor care).

Paradise Valley, NV, is 212 miles from Reno and 40 miles north of Winnemucca. We’d suggest you make a weekend of it. Leave Reno Saturday morning and on the way out, you can enjoy the views of the Carson sink, the Humboldt sink, the 40 mile desert, lunch at Lovelock (McDonald’s or the Cowpoke Café—guess who recommended which) and view one of the only two round courthouses in America. Accommodations are available in Winnemucca. In Winnemucca we both recommend the Martin Hotel for dinner. On Sunday, breakfast at the Griddle or the Model T, and drive north on Hwy 95 for ~20 miles, look for antelope to the west, and turn right at the Hereford cow (just before the Chevron station) onto Hwy 290 and go another 18 miles to Paradise Valley. (You can google all the above for more info).  (Lye Creek campground is also available about 15 miles north of Paradise in the Humboldt National Forest; nice campgrounds along a stream).

On 290, be alert for deer crossing the roads (don’t want to dent your vehicle) and please drive slowly and carefully in Paradise Valley, watching for kids, dogs, bicycles, horses, and people who have long forgotten to look both ways before they cross the road because nothing is ever coming….Turn left at the stop sign and go two blocks to our house; park and come around to the back of the house.

Birders bring binoculars. The wildflowers on the Hinkey summit road (gravel, but well maintained) will be near or at peak bloom. Deer, antelope, and rarely, big horn sheep are also seen.

…and now the rest of the newsletter,

If you have peaches, cherries, or other stone fruits, you will soon notice aphid damage (curled leaves on tips of twigs); apples and pears are also affected but usually to a lesser extent. If you have aphids, spray with a strong jet of water to knock them and the damaged/infected leaves off the tree. The aphids will fall to the ground and cook in the noon day sun; lady bugs and lacewings will fly back up to munch on the leftover aphids. The branch and twig ends will re-leaf in a few weeks.

Keep an eye out for leaf rollers as well; these caterpillars—as the name implies—make a cocoon by curling a leaf around themselves. If you see a few, just pluck off the leaf, unroll, and squash the little worm. If there are more than you can get at, spray with Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) available at most nursery shops. Bt is a bacteria that kills caterpillars (butterfly and moth larvae) when ingested.

Monitor your soil and your watering. Soils should be ½ dirt, ½ air, and ½ water (yes, I know). Clay soils here appear dry on the surface immediately after watering, but do be careful—most folks tend to over water. Over watering symptoms are the same as too little water—wilted leaves, browning/dying leaves. To properly check soil moisture, dig down 4-6 inches near the drip line one of your trees; the soil should be moist, not soaking wet. For fruit and other trees, watering slowly once week is best. If you are watering on a weekly basis and leaves are wilting, check the soil and cut back on the water if necessary.

Training fruit trees is one of the most important things to start early in the tree’s life. The single upright growth of a first year tree is called the whip—it becomes the trunk of the tree. In the second year of growth, side shoots begin to grow out of the whip—these become the limbs.

Start training now. As the shoots emerge, select the 4 or 5 that will become the lower limbs; pinch unwanted shoots back to the basal leaf whorl. Also, look at the angle between the selected shoots and the trunk; this angle should be ~70-80 degrees from vertical. Generally, the angle is much less; so…when the shoot is about 4-6 inches long and still green, attach a clothespin to the trunk above the shoot so the shoot is near horizontal. Leave the clothespin on until the stem is woody in the late summer.


My favorite book on training and pruning is Brickell, Christopher, Pruning and Training, American Horticultural Society, DK Publishing, New York. It’s a good investment for about $25 and has pruning instructions for (almost) all American plants.

I will then be out of town off and on for the rest of the summer and early fall. If you have questions, email me, but don’t worry if I don’t reply promptly; I’ll eventually get back to you within a week or two.


5/31/13 mgj