I had an unexpected afternoon at home today and the temperature hit 45 F, which is an opportunity to spray the fruit trees. Today I used 10 Tbs Bonide’s All Orchard Dormant Oil with about a quarter cup of Crocker’s Fish Oil per gallon, as the trees are still in full dormancy. Crocker’s makes everything stick better (so beware getting it on your work area, hands, sprayer, etc.), provides a little pre-foliar nourishment and discourages the deer. As a person who has a dozen or so fruit trees and is away from home an average of 8 hours, 7 days a week, I can’t tell you how much of an advantage it is to spray dormant oil. It is non-toxic and works by smothering larvae and eggs laid by the previous generation of insect pests last fall. It’s fairly easy to get out to the trees right now (well, I did get cold and wet wading through the hip deep snow in places but at least there were no mosquitoes) and with the branches bare it’s easy to see pruning issues and winter damage. An early season spray session is a great excuse to get out there and have a conversation with the trees. And if you have the sort of family that doesn’t mind you mixing up fermented fish concentrate and mentholated oil in the kitchen sink, so much the better.
The Seckel pear tree in the photo is 7 years old and produced about 2 bushels of fruit last summer. That’s a lot of tiny pears. I plant standard trees because on an island in Maine the climate and the soil (what soil?) will themselves keep growth to a minimum. They’re all pruned to 10′ to 12′ feet because I like to be able to prune and pick fruit without a ladder. That Seckel pear could go to 60′ in a nice spot in Connecticut. Here, it produces as many pears as I can use at 10′ – which is a good thing because it’s growing directly under the power lines to the house.
Being away from the house so much each day, I tend to spend every hour possible in the garden when I’m home. In June, that means I can be out until 9 p.m. before gardening is called on account of darkness.
“Bye bye, Muma” my son will say as I head out the door in April. “See you in October!”. Sad but true. . .