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August 2018 Gardening Tips - Clematis 'Multi-Blue'



    Growing fruit trees can be the most exciting gardening experience! Fruit trees can also be the biggest heartbreaker. Have you ever gone out to your garden just to gaze with sadness at the big branch that broke off and shredded the trunk of your apple tree? How about waiting and waiting for harvest only to have some critters rob every last fruit from your tree? Can fruit tree growing be a little daunting at times? Yes. Is it worth it? Yes, yes!

    Here are a few tips for caring for fruit trees:

    Purchase bracing material (I use one by four wood but you can use other material) before you need it. Doing so early in the season means you'll have what you need to brace up the branches before the fruit gets large, abundant and heavy! Many of us intended to buy braces and then forgot, only to come outside to see branches broken from the weight of the fruit!

    This is hard to do but thin the fruit (remove some of the fruit) from your fruit trees while the fruit is young . There are several reasons to thin fruit-thinning lessens the weight on the branches; makes room for the remaining fruit to grow larger with better quality; lessens the cramped spaces between fruit that can hold fungal spores and attract insect pests; and helps to prevent a heavy crop one year and a light or no crop the next. You may want to wait until June Drop (nature's way of thinning fruit for you) has happened before you thin the fruit yourself.

    In summer, many fruit trees such as, apples, peaches, nectarines and pears will benefit from some pruning back. This is especially helpful when you want to keep your trees smaller (dormant pruning invigorates growth-summer pruning slows growth). Shortening some stems and removing others will help your tree be healthy and have strong fruiting branches.

    Some fruit trees such as, persimmons and figs can also be grown as ornamental trees. Here you would be going for minimal pruning for good shape and branch spacing (removing one of two crossed stems for instance).

    The use of bird netting has been abandoned by many fruit growers because the netting was trapping some birds that managed to get inside it and the birds died. So, in lieu of netting you can set out something that will flutter in the wind (like the shiny metallic tape made for this purpose). Or like one of my friend's who flies a plastic bag tied to a pole above his trees.

    There is so much more to know about growing fruit trees but these tips will give you a good start. When you're ready to learn how to prune and care for your fruit trees contact Mary for a consultation at 707.545.6863 or through our contact page.


    August 2018
    Gardening Checklist*
    What to SHOP for . . .
    Checkbox Summer Blooming Plants for Attracting Hummingbirds -Lobelia cardinalis, Penstamon 'Midnight' (overwinters well in Sonoma County), Leonotis, Canna, Fuchsias, Abutilon, Liatris, Veronica, Crocosmia, Calibrachoa, Monarda, Hibiscus, Kniphofia, Agave.
    Checkbox Yellow Sticky Traps for Managing Whitefly
    Tasks to do . . .
    Checkbox Sunflowers - Seeds of sunflowers can still be sown this month for a fall show!
    Checkbox Pruning - Especially towards the end of August, many plants can be pruned and sheared to rejuvenate them for a good show in September and October. Nepeta and Erigeron can be sheared just before they start to look straggly (these two plants can be sheared up to 4 or even 5 times a year to keep them looking good). Teucrium chamaedrys also can be sheared down to 3 or 4 inches high. For more tips on shearing plants watch The Gardening Tutor video Shearing Plants to Encourage Flowers and Foliage. The key to rejuvenating plants is to give them extra water from the hose for a week or so after hard pruning.
    Checkbox Roses - In general, late August is the last fertilizing for the season. Clean up fallen leaves and prune a little farther down the stems then you did earlier in the summer.
    Checkbox Pest Management - To keep spider mite populations down, wash shrub foliage down with a strong spray of water once or twice a month (more often if you live on a dusty road; however, daily washing may encourage fungal infections). You can keep plants looking good by using a metal shrub rake to rake through the fine webbing of spider mites.
    Checkbox Mulch - Where needed. Watch The Gardening Tutor video Mulch vs. Compost
    Free printable . . .
      Looking for a way to stay organized in your garden?
    Download this Free Printable Gardening Checklist* and you’ll be amazed how inspired you’ll feel!
    Let us know how you’re doing. You can do it!
    Remember, this printable was created as a short list of tasks with minimal information. If you would like more in-depth information,
    you can always refer back to the checklist above each month for more details.

    The Gardening Tutor August 2018 Printable

    *Colors may vary depending upon your computer screen and printer.

*For More Detailed Gardening Tips
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