March 20, 2009
Early spring can be fickle. After our extreme Chicago winter we all enjoyed the 60 degree weather. But when it’s followed by more freezing temperatures I get a little nervous.
I still don’t have anything planted in the garden as I’m waiting for the soil to warm up a bit and to dry enough so I don’t end up with concrete later (that can happen if you work the soil too early). But my fruit trees are another concern. I’ll be spending the next few weeks finishing the trimming. This helps keep air flow in the tree during our humid summers preventing disease and to keep the tree from overstressing with too much fruit
As soon as the trimming’s done I’ll be adding a layer of dormant spray (oil) to get a head start on pest control. It’s been a losing battle for me to keep bugs from my fruit trees but I try every year to raise beautiful fruit. It’s all in the timing and a few days over 80 degrees or a windy spell means the spraying schedule is interrupted.
But back to the early spring warm-ups. Quite a few fruit farmers are holding their breath this year hoping the extreme changes in weather don’t bring on the “bud stage” too early. A hard frost can nip them right off the branches and a season’s worth of fruit can be lost. Last year’s late-April freeze (hard frost) wiped out most of my pears and cherries and about 90% of my brother’s grapes. Actually, it was cold last spring all the way into June and we were sent reeling in September with floods. I’m just hoping this extreme winter doesn’t mean an extreme summer. I’m also not looking forward to working outside in high humidity and 90+ temperatures which is beach weather for most but I’ve got veggies that need to get to market!
Here are a few photos of my fruit trees in spring. The white paint on the trunk is an old-fashioned way of deflecting early spring sunlight from warming up the tree and sending up buds too early.