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You Can Have Your Shade and Eat it Too

29 June 2013

You Can Have Your Shade and Eat it Too

Garden Alert – the unseen killers in the landscape have been busy at work while gardeners blame themselves and their irrigation system. Grubs are bad right now. Small "C" shaped worms eat the roots off landscape plants, perennials and lawns. This is critical; if you see one of these nasty pests you have hundreds at work around them. This week gardeners have come to me with mature trees, eight year old shrubs and large spots in the lawns, all are indicative of grubs at work. Recognize the symptoms and grubs are easily stopped in their tracks.

"Grub Beater" is one of those magic new garden solutions that keeps grubs away for the year with one application. Spread like fertilizer in the yard where irrigation or rain carry it deep into the soil and prevents future grub activity. Dig a test hole and look for physical signs of this deadly killer in the landscape and treat right away. Treat the infected garden plot along with that entire section of the yard. Grub Beater is recommended for everything in the yard except edible crops. Organic solutions to grub control requires some one-on-one face time to properly explain.

You can have your shade and eat it too is a good start to this week's column. Not all fruit trees are created mountain equal; some bloom so early they rarely produce fruit due to frosty springs. This is why pear trees produce fruit more reliably than apricot, cherries, peach and nectarines combined. Look specifically to our mountain strain of Bartlett Pear.

This organic tree provides the sweetest thin skinned fruit that is mouth watering tender, good for canning, drying and cooking. Bright yellow pears are aromatic, with excellent flavor. Glossy green leaves are thick and waxy making it the perfect arid landscape fruiter that doubles as a shade tree. Mountain easy to grow and the only local self-pollinating pear, making it the regions favored organic tree. If you want shade and fruit at the same time look no further than Pear's.

Blackberry and Raspberry make excellent hedge rows or privacy screens while softening the property and fence lines. If you like fresh berries picked from the landscape look to the local "Black Satin" variety. This thornless berry plant produces super sized fruits on silky smooth canes the love arid climates. New this summer is a bush form of raspberry that is also thornless and easy to grow. Hardy enough to grow in containers and raised beds while exposed to full sun the Shortcake Thornless Raspberry is a favorable choice.

Grapes grown on pergolas, chain link fence, trellis and over slatted decks are another local favorite. Grapevines grow surprisingly easy so pick your favorite. Many varieties of table grapes, seedless vines and wine grapes all grow successfully without many of the issues other parts of the country struggle with. Can it get any better than sitting under the shade of your pergola covered by grapevines with large clusters of fruit draped through the slatted roof? This is the garden made for magazine covers and well within your expertise with a little coaching.

blackberriesFruiting plants have very deep root so they won't lift driveways and wall. More importantly, you can stick them on the main landscape drip system and treat them like any other tree or shrub in the yard with a once per seek schedule during the growing season.

With the arrival of monsoonal rains this is not only the ideal time to plant fruit varieties, but the ideal time to feed the entire landscape. This is essential for fruiting plants. Get the food right and fruit production compounds, get it wrong and your plants can drop this years harvest just as you update the recipe books. Fruiting plants have specific nutritional needs that encourage larger fruit formation.

An organic commercial farmer shared some time on a fishing boat with me that went into the making of my own plant foods. Ken's organic "Fruit & Berry Food" 7.5-5-7.5 should be applied right away. This same blend is also an excellent nutritional source for blackberry and raspberry as well as all fruiting trees. Sprinkle on the ground and monsoonal rains will carry it into the plant for a better harvest. This is especially important for fast growers or heavy producers like currents, fig and grapes.

Now through fall is the ideal time to plant fruit trees. Fruits for mountain home landscapes include apples, pears, cherries, peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots, currants and figs. Do your homework, or ask a horticulturalist the various fruiting times at the higher elevations of Arizona. Ideally you want hand picked varieties chosen specifically for their taste, soil adaptability, and late bloom cycles. This increases the success of the local harvests.

Free Garden Class – The summer class schedule has been posted and starts today. Consider this a personal invitation to readers. Classes are free with the first class starting today, Saturday, June 29 @ 9:30 titled, "Gardening for Newcomers". On July 6 students learn hands on how to have, "Juicier Fruits, Grapes & Berries". Check out the entire summer class schedule at www.wattersgardencenter.com/category/classes.

Until next week, I'll see you in the garden center.



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