Apr/29/2010 10:50 AM
We have been busy in real life, if not on this page. We pruned the entire orchard in late February to mid March, and planted new trees where others died so that the orchard is once again filled in. A good thing we got all that completed in a timely manner, since the warm weather in April accelerated bud development. The trees are currently about 2 weeks ahead of schedule in terms of flowering and leafing out - the apple trees are likely to bloom this weekend, and the other fruit trees (plum, peach, pear and cherry) are in full bloom now. Hopefully enough pollinators are flying around that we will get good fruit set. We have sprayed our first sulfur of the season on the scab-susceptible varieties, and had a good wetting period. The idea with this treatment is that the fungal spores of the scab are released after a certain amount of warmth, when they get wet, and they need to stay wet to grow. The sulfur is sprayed on the leaves, where it changes the pH (acidity) of the water on the leaves and makes the leaf an inhospitable place for the fungus. Scab spores are only released for a limited period of time, so if there is sulfur on the trees for every wet period during that season, most of the scab damage can be avoided. Trees that are heavily infected with scab will lose all their leaves, which is very costly and stressful for the tree, and the fruit will develop black cankers. Some of the MacIntosh fruit look like walnuts when scab infection is bad enough. Luckily, a large portion of our orchard is scab resistant, so the sulfur sprays are unnecessary on those trees.
On the rest of our farm, the chickens are thrilled to be outside every day after a long winter trapped in their coop, and the sheep are once again eating fresh grass and turning up their noses at the hay. We have planted some early season vegetables, which are coming along slowly, and generally getting the gardens into shape for the prime growing season. And we got a puppy in March, Watermelon the labradoodle, who loves to herd escapee chickens back into their fence, watch the sheep, help us plant trees, and generally get her nose in every aspect of farm life.