[NAFEX] Spring!

list at ginda.us list at ginda.us
Mon Apr 19 00:17:16 EDT 2004

Well, I lost all my experimental (global warming) zone 7/ tender zone 6 
stuff this harsh winter, but all the hardy stuff seems to be doing 
well.  I removed a number of Crandall currant suckers today (gave them 
to a friend) and generally puttered, fed, pruned, mulched, etc.  I'm 
very excited to report that my Puget Gold apricot is going to bloom 
this year - I planted it last spring!  (I wish the apples were so 
exuberant.)  I think it will bloom too early, and be frosted out, but 
I'm still pleased.

I guess I ought to prune earlier in the season.  It was easy to prune 
the grape and apple, which are still pretty dormant (although the grape 
bled a lot) but painful to prune the budding blueberry and currant.  
Redstart has some branches that are rubbing, but it doesn't have many 
branches (a rough transplant two years ago) and I'd have to either 
remove the strong new shoot or else the one covered in fruiting buds, 
and I couldn't bear to do either.  Maybe I will prune some more after 
it fruits.  The feral red currant probably has too many stems, but I 
found it hard to cut it back, too.  (Also covered with buds)  
Unusually, there were no dead branches - usually the oldest branches 
die over the winter from borers or something, so in the past it's been 
very easy to prune in the spring.  In fact, I have been in the habit of 
waiting until the buds swelled to more easily see which branches died, 
and remove them.

The blueberries had enough issues that I'm a little worried.  The ends 
of several young branches were black and curled up - looks like 
pictures of fireblight, although I don't think that affects 
blueberries.  I'm hoping it's just winterkill.  There was also a large 
canker on a big stem.  Even though the affected stem had a lot of 
fruiting buds emerging, I removed it, in case it's infectious.  (Also, 
those buds were a little behind - I think the canker was slowing 
sap-flow, and I don't know if the stem would have been able to support 
the fruit.)  I saw the canker last year, but assumed it was just 
mechanical damage.  But it seemed worse this spring.  Still, the 
blueberries are looking good, and I'm hopeful of a crop.  Good except 
for one plant in the same spot where a prior bush died.  There must be 
something wrong with that spot.  Maybe the drainage is bad, as it's a 
little lower than the others in the row, and over a rock.  I wonder if 
it would help if I removed the plant, added a lot more soil to build up 
the spot, and re-planted the plant?  Any suggestions?  (and if that 
makes sense, what time of year would you do it?  Maybe next weekend?)

My project for this year is to kill back the grass from close to my 
fruits.  The blueberries have an extra 18" of mulched space, and the 
apple tree will, soon.  (It already has an extra 6" or so, as I put a 
lot of leaves over the grass this winter, and that seems to have 
inhibited the grass.)  The currants and raspberries are so productive 
that it doesn't seem necessary (and the raspberries actually have a lot 
of space).  I think I need to restrict the grape anyway, so I'll leave 
it alone.  The Meyers lemon has so little root that I don't think it is 
competing with grass, despite living in a small hole.  But the apricot 
may get more mulch, too.

Hoping others are enjoying the spring as much as I am.

Ginda Fisher
eastern Mass., zone 6

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