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.

Prognostications from Punxsutawney Phil & Why 6 More Weeks of Winter is Good

Dormant scionwood

Scionwood for top­work­ing or spring bud­ding needs to be col­lected while still fully dormant.

It’s the day after groud­hog day and the great prog­nos­ti­ca­tor of spring’s arrival has “spo­ken.” We are in for 6 more weeks of win­ter.……
Yes,  I can hear your col­lec­tive groan of res­ig­na­tion and dread, but really, for the fruit gar­den this is a good thing. Here are a reason-a-week, and some sug­gested gar­den activ­i­ties to help us all keep a pos­i­tive mind set:

  1. There is still time to col­lect scionwood for top­work­ing trees while the wood is fully dormant.
  2. Fruit vari­eties with long chill­ing require­ments may need a few weeks yet to ful­fill this vital link to proper flow­er­ing and fruiting.
  3. Fruit tree dis­eases such as fire­b­light and black knot are best pruned out dur­ing the dor­mant sea­son in order to pre­vent fur­ther spread of these diseases.
  4. The longer bloom is delayed into the spring the higher the like­li­hood of avoid­ing late spring frost dam­age; hence the chance for a boun­ti­ful crop.
  5. All the snow on the ground will help replen­ish ground water sup­plies that are depleted in many areas.
  6. There’s time to read one more gar­den book and pick up a few more hints to help you become a bet­ter gardener.