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.

Four Seasons in the Fruit Garden thru the Lens of a Camera — Winter, Part 3

March is gone, spring is sup­posed to have sprung. Where is it? The ground hog lied! Six weeks is up and we still have win­ter. Two days ago it was a beau­ti­ful sunny zero degrees.

So what do we have from fruit gar­den photo-land this month?

snow protected brambles

Snow cover pro­vides insu­la­tion for the bram­bles through­out this long, cold winter

snow covered grape vines

What’s vis­i­ble of the grapevines now will all be pruned away come snow-melt

The rasp­ber­ries are still well pro­tected, under almost 3 feet of snow. That’s the height of the first cross-member on the trel­lis; yes the one that looks like it’s at ground level.…..but it’s not. I’m shoot­ing, stand­ing atop hard packed snow. Try­ing to have a pos­i­tive mind-set; the insu­la­tion is good. We should have a crop. Hope­fully the more ten­der black­berry canes will bear a crop on their lower branches. At least their crowns are well pro­tected too. We’ll have to see how the exposed wood fared. I’m a tad doubt­ful. For­tu­nately they are vig­or­ous and prun­ing will soon return them to their glory. A few apple root­stocks peak thru the snow in the fore­ground to await spring chip buds. At least we won’t have to worry whether set­tling snow has ripped off young grafts.

The snow has also left the grapes barely vis­i­ble. A very good thing. We should be OK. What’s vis­i­ble in the photo is likely to get pruned out regard­less. In more exposed areas of the vine­yard my hus­band man­ages, there is dam­age to the wine grapes –lots of it unfor­tu­nately. Our table grape vari­eties are of hardier genet­ics and with the snow cover we should be fine, unless.…..


Rodent feeding on hazelnut

Hazel­nut trunk dam­aged by rodent feeding

.….….the rodents were active. We’ll have to wait and see. They did do a bit of a num­ber on my 2 con­torted hazel­nut shrubs. For­tu­nately the limbs are not fully gir­dled. Hope­fully they will heal and throw new shoots too.









black cat

Did she bring us all this snow or will she bring the spring?

Hope­fully this is the black cat of good luck! At least we can now see the snow has receded some in the short-lived thaw we had for a day or so. Keep think­ing spring! Hope­fully April will bring some starts of green.