Stella Otto: The Backyard Fruit Gardener

Today's Tip: Mow vegetation short around the base of fruit trees and bushes to reduce winter habitat for rodents.

Monthly Archives: June 2014

Freezing the Berry Harvest in Six Quick, Easy Steps

picking ripe strawberries

Well, it’s nor­mally sup­posed to be near­ing the start of cherry har­vest here in the “Cherry Capi­tol of the World” but due to the extended win­ter we are just get­ting into the thick of straw­berry pick­ing. My apolo­gies for being slightly late with this week’s post, but the straw­ber­ries are com­ing on like gang-busters—big, beautiful, […]

What Makes Spotted Wing Drosophila Such a Problem?

Bait traps for spotted wing drosophila are an easy, cheap DIY project.

Spot­ted wing drosophila (SWD) (Drosophila suzukii) made its first appear­ance in orchards and fruit plant­i­ngs in the con­ti­nen­tal United States in 2008. Observed early-on in Cal­i­for­nia, it was  soon also noted as a prob­lem in the Car­oli­nas, Florida, Michi­gan, Utah, Wis­con­sin, and Ver­mont; and con­tin­ues to spread. Most fruit flies that infest soft fruit do so […]

Rose Chafers Retexted

Rose Chafer on raspberries

I thought I’d share last night’s text between my hus­band, also a hor­ti­cul­tur­ist and orchard man­ager, and a close friend of ours Nikki Roth­well, North­west Michi­gan Hor­ti­cul­tural Research Sta­tion coor­di­na­tor and Dis­trict IPM edu­ca­tor: H: Crushed the first rose chafer tonight in our rasp­ber­ries. D: Killed my first ones last night in my Rosa rugosa. D: […]

Why is my Little Fruit Falling Off my Fruit Tree?

The end result of June Drop and proper fruit thinning. Apple

Help, all the lit­tle fruit is falling off my tree!” is a lament I hear fre­quently from novice back­yard fruit grow­ers. If it’s three to four weeks after bloom, relax, that’s nor­mal.  First, it’s not likely that all the fruit is falling off. It may just appear that way if this is the first time […]

Compost Conundrums: Trouble-shooting Your Compost Pile

Demand for good com­post is bound to be in full swing now that a fresh gar­den­ing sea­son well under­way . Hope­fully you have an ample, ready source. If, how­ever, you are expe­ri­enc­ing chal­lenges with your com­post pile, let’s do some trou­ble shoot­ing. Here are some com­mon prob­lems and pos­si­ble solu­tions to your com­post conun­drums: 1. My […]

Figs for My Fruit Garden


I did it! I bought some fig plants for my fruit gar­den. As I men­tioned last year when I reviewed Grow Figs Where You Think You Can’t, I plan to find out if it’s really pos­si­ble to grow figs in north­ern Michi­gan. My adven­ture is about to begin.… A recent trip took me to the Mid-Atlantic […]