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Monthly Garden Gossip

March, 2017

Welcome to our garden! We're proud of our hard work and want to share the reward with you, so here is what's going on in the garden this month..Central Alabama

 The Tomato Pre-order is in full swing. This year we are offering 66 different varieties of tomatoes. You may order any amount from just one plant to as many as you would like. We will have them ready for you to pick up at the retail shop. Click here to place your order for the April 8th pick up.
Tomato plants

Bloom Sprays

Bloom sprays are used late February through early April from first bloom until essentially all flowers have opened. Bloom sprays are for fungal problems such as brown rot. They may not be needed every year but are suggested if brown rot on fruit was severe the previous year. We use bloom sprays to control fungal and bacterial diseases. Suggested products are Hi-yield Captan, Hi Yield Vegetable, Flower, Fruit and Ornamental Fungicide (12.5% chlorothalonil )and Fruit Tree Vegetable , Ornamental Fungicide (29.6% chlorothalonil) You may also use Liquid Copper Fungicide and Liquid-Cop.

When applying copper be careful to use the recommended rates to avoid bloom damage. On peaches and plums apply 2 tablespoons per gallon of water at bud break. One tablespoon per gallon of water 2 weeks later. Then 1/2 tablespoon per gallon of water 2 weeks after the last spray through petal fall.

Do not spray insecticides during bloom period to protect pollinating bees.

Late Winter Sprays

Copper sprays are excellent for bacterial problems such as fire blight on apple and pear trees and bacterial spot on peach, nectarine, plum and cherry. It is generally best not to mix copper with other spray materials. Don't spray copper within 2 to 3 weeks oil sprays.

If you are having a problem with scale insects and eggs, mite eggs plus overwintering fungal and bacterial pests you could use Parafine Horticultural Oil, Year-Round Spray Oil, Hi-yield dormant Spray, Saf-t-side (80% petroleum oil or Fertilome dormant Spray and Summer Spray Oil, ( 98.8% horticultural Oil). Do not apply oil sprays within 48 hours of a hard freeze, (below 30 degrees) because freeze damage may be increased.

Cover Sprays

This spray begins at petal fall (nearly all flower petals have fallen.) and runs until 15 days before harvest. These sprays are used mainly to control insect and disease problems of the fruit. (especially plum curcullio which causes wormy fruit and brown rot which causes fruit rots). The first 2 to 3 sprays should be 7 to 10 days apart with later sprays up until near harvest 2 to 3 weeks apart. Suggested products are Hi Yield Captan Fungicide, Dusting/Wettable sulfur, Thiomyl. When using Thiomyl include Captan in the spray to reduce possible development of resistant strains of brown rot. For plum curculio and other insects, Mal-A Cide (50% malathion) Monterey Garden Insect Sray (0.5% spinosad) The old fruit tree spray that contained Malathion and Captan is no longer available. However the gardener can prepare the same spray by mixing per directions the captan and malathion together.

Fire Blight

Fire blight is the enemy of apple and pear trees. It is caused by a bacteria that attacks the blossoms and moves up to the twigs and then the branches, turning the blossoms brown and shriveling and blackening the twigs and branches. In advanced cases discolored oozing patches form on the branches. Fire Blight is easily spread by rain splashes, birds and insects. Gardeners can also spread the disease on infected gardening tools. Disinfect your tools with a 10% clorox solution when trimming infected trees. Dispose of infected plant material by burning or discarding in the trash. Copper sprays are excellent for bacterial problems such as fire blight. Fire blight spray which contains streptomycin may be used also. Streptomycin should be sprayed about every 10 days during bloom to be effective. Streptomycin is no longer considered an organic spray. For the organic gardener who wants to control Fire Blight without the use of antibiotics, Serenade is suggested. It contains Bacillis subtillis a soil dwelling bacterium that controls leaf blight, black mold, powdery mildew and many other diseases.

Chill Hours

We have had a lack of chill hours this year with approximately 650 hours. While the strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, figs and many plums should be okay many of the apples and pears will not have had enough chill hours. If you have fruit trees that require more chilling you may notice that your trees are slow to flower or may flower at a slower rate maybe over a 3 to 4 week period. The fruit may not be the quality is was in the past due the the low chilling.

Pruning could help but do not do any pruning until the end of March or first of April. Your trees will flower from the end of the branch toward the trunk. By pruning you will force the buds closer to the trunk to flower.

Pruning and fertilizing

Prune muscadines now. Fertilize all your pecan trees with a pecan fertilizer that has zinc. Fertilize blackberries,blueberries and all fruit trees. We use a 12-6-6 fertilizer on the blueberries and blackberries and a Citrus, Pecan and Fruit tree fertilizer on the fruit trees. This fertilizer contains all the micro-nutrients the trees need for good fruit production.

Late Spraying

For those of you that haven't has a chance to spray your fruit plants and trees there still is time to do so. You may combine your dormant oil and copper together per the instructions on the label. Spray near bud break but not full flower.


Many varieites of lettuce plants are available now along with spinach, arugula, Swiss chard, kale and other cool season vegetables.

Seeds are also available. There is an excellent selection of herb, vegetable and flowers seeds at the retail shop. We offer Botanical Interest seeds and Renee's Garden Seeds. Many of the seeds are organic and no GMO.

We also have bulk wildflower seeds for $1.00. They are sold by the teaspoon or tablespoon depending on the size of the seed. These include Zinnia, Cosmos, Sunflowers. Gaillardia, also known as Blanket Flower, Black-eyed Susan and Gloriosa Daisy.

Prune evergreens, pine, hemlock, yew, cleyera and cedar now before they start to grow.  Prune spring blooming shrubs after they flower.  Don't wait too long or your will remove next years buds. Prune boxwoods if needed.  Open up the inside to allow air circulation and light.  Prune pomegranate and summer flowering shrubs.  Lilac Chaste tree, Anthony Waterer Spirea and Pee Gee hydrangea should also be pruned now while dormant.  Hydrangea arborescens, Annabelle hydrangeas, can be pruned to the ground since they flower on new growth.  If the stems are cut to the ground the new shoots produce larger inflorescences.  Don't prune your hydrangea macrophylla, mopheads and lacecaps until after they leaf out.  Then prune only the branches that are dead. For pink blooms on the hydrangeas use lime; for blue blooms use aluminum sulphate or camellia and azalea fertilizer.



Corky Spot on Apples

Corky Spot on Apples

Cork spots are corky areas of flesh from dime to quarter size just under the skin of the fruit on apples and often pears and quince. This condition which is caused by a boron deficiency and sometimes lack of calcium, results in fruits which are not very desirable for consumption. To produce fruits free of cork spots one of the better apporaches is to apply calcium nitrate, superphosphate (if needed) and murate of potash or sulfate of potash. Using calcium nitrate works well with pome fruits because it supplies both the nitrogen and calcium and doesn't lower the soil pH which should be maintained at 6 to 7. Dr. Powell adds 2 to 3 tablespoons of calcium nitrate per gallon to all the sprays he applies to the apples and pears.
Potatoes can still be planted. Also think about adding an asparagus bed to your vegetable garden. Asparagus is a long lived perennial so choose a spot in full sun where you won't have to disturb it for several years. Till in some organic matter into the bed and till to a depth of about 8 to 10 inches before planting. Asparagus
Roses If you haven't done so already prune your repeat flowering roses back by 1/3 into a dome shape. Remove all dead or dying branches. Prune only the repeat flowering roses right now. When you are through, fertilize all of your roses with a good rose fertilizer. I am particularly fond of the fertizler that has the systemic insecticide in it. It kills all the aphids that are just waiting to suck the life out of your new growth. I also use it on my daylilies since aphids are always hiding down in the leaves and are hard to get to with spray.When your roses that only flower once in the spring are finished flowering you may prune them back.