Thursday, April 24, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Garden Doctor: Now’s the time to prune fruit trees

ladybugs on artichokesW

Ladybugs take a rest on the leaves of an artichoke plant in the Davis Community Garden during the last week of January. Stuart Pettygrove/Courtesy photo

Upcoming events:
* At the Stephens Branch Library, 315 E. 14th St. in Davis, gather on the third Sunday of every month from 2 to 4 p.m. for a Master Gardener program as part of the “Urban Homesteading” series. Learn about low water, lawn removal, vegetable, fruit and edible landscaping with several tables that will present visual and hands-on information on the monthly topic.
* At Grace Garden behind the Davis United Methodist Church, 1620 Anderson Road: “Selection and Care of Garden Tools” from 9 to 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 22, and the annual plant sale March 29.

* At Woodland Community College: “Backyard and Worm Composting” from 10 to 11 a.m. March 15, and a plant sale from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 5.

At Davis Central Park Garden: “Lawn Removal” from 9:30 to 10 a.m. March 22 and “Waterwise Irrigation for the Garden” from 11 a.m. to noon March 22.

Question: What recommendations can you give me for pruning fruit trees, especially with the unpredictable weather we are experiencing this winter?

Answer: First the exceptions: apricots and cherries, which are very prone to bacterial infections, are pruned in the summer or fall when the weather is dry. Citrus doesn’t need to be pruned except for attractiveness and to keep the size of the trees — to have fruit is in reach for harvest but not for enjoyment by rats. Sprouts from the graft union (suckers) should always be pruned; cut them under the soil if possible. They will suck energy from tree and produce undesirable fruit, if any.

Pruning increases the quality of the yield; it invigorates the plant; it removes undesirable branches that may be blocking air flow; and it removes dead and dying branches. The equipment needed are a good set of hand pruners (65 to 70 percent of pruning is done with these) and perhaps a pair of loppers as well as a pruning hand saw for those large, cumbersome branches.

Winter is such a good time to prune because it is easier to see the silhouette of the tree/shrub and where branches are crisscrossing and rubbing. Prune out dead branches, cutting back to a healthy spot on the branch. Look for the “collar” at the base of the branch. Avoid cutting into this to prevent wounding the branch you are keeping. The branches should come off the main trunk close to or at a 45 degree angle. This holds true for most trees and shrubs as well.

After you have worked on the structure of the fruit tree, head back by an overall amount of approximately 30 percent (no more) of the new growth that remains. Look for new growth — red or greenish bark — that would whip around on a windy day.

One last item to consider is frost. We can have a heavy frost or even hard freeze into late March. Resist removing frost damaged dead leaves and branches from that cold spell in until the weather is reliably warmer. Any frost or freeze that occurs between now and then will rest on those dead branches, protecting the new, tender growth that is starting to emerge.

Question: What do I need to do to make sure the mulch on my landscape and vegetable garden is doing its part to save water?

Answer: Beyond personal preference, a minimum layer of at least 2 inches deep should maintain soil moisture and discourage weeds. Mulch is available in various forms, ranging from coarse bark chunks to walk-on mulch, and even pebbles in some cases. In vegetable gardens, a thick layer of untreated grass clippings can be used to hold soil moisture around plants. Mulch decomposes over time and needs to be restored periodically to remain effective. If you notice weeds poking through the mulch, you probably need to add more.

Keep in mind that the soil under the mulch is an ecosystem, inhabited by earthworms and other smaller organisms that gradually work in mulch. You may also have larger organisms such as birds, squirrels, and chickens that will have their own uses for your mulch.

— Send questions, addressed to the “Garden Doctor,” by email to mgyolo@ucdavis.edu, voice mail to 530-666-8737 or regular mail to UCCE Master Gardeners, 70 Cottonwood St., Woodland, CA 95695. Be sure to include your contact information because any questions not answered in the Garden Doctor column will be answered with a phone call or email to you. You can request the Yolo Gardener newsletter delivered by email and learn more about the Master Gardener program in Yolo County at http://ucanr.edu/sites/YCMG.

Special to The Enterprise

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Davis Enterprise does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

News

 
4-H members get ready for Spring Show

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Will city move forward on public power review?

By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1

 
Obama to Russia: More sanctions are ‘teed up’

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
2 pursuits, 2 arrests keep Woodland officers busy

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

 
 
Youth sports in focus on radio program

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Rummage sale will benefit preschool

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Concert benefits South Korea exchange

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Conference puts focus on Arab studies

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Davis honors ‘green’ citizens

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
Water rate assistance bill advances

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Program explores STEM careers for girls

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

 
Embroiderers plan a hands-on project

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Central Park Gardens to host Volunteer Orientation Day

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
Volkssporting Club plans North Davis walks

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Hotel/conference center info meeting set

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
MOMS Club plans open house

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

 
Cycle de Mayo benefits Center for Families

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A8

Author to read ‘The Cat Who Chose to Dream’

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A12

 
.

Forum

Things are turning sour

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B5

 
The high cost of employment

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

High-five to Union Bank

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
Broken sprinklers waste water

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

Three more administrators?

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
Neustadt has experience for the job

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

Here’s a plan to save big on employee costs

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6, 3 Comments

 
Davis is fair, thoughtful

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

Ortiz is the right choice for Yolo

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

.

Sports

DHS tracksters sweep another DVC meet

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Another DVC blowout for DHS girls soccer

By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Young reinvents his game to help Aggies improve on the diamond

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
DHS boys shuffle the deck to beat Cards

By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

DHS/Franklin II is a close loss for Devil softballers

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

 
Baseball roundup: Giants slam Rockies in the 11th

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
UCD roundup: Aggies lose a softball game at Pacific

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3

 
Jahn jumps to Sacramento Republic FC

By Evan Ream | From Page: B8

.

Features

.

Arts

Congressional art competition open to high school students

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
Emerson, Da Vinci to present ‘Once Upon a Mattress’

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
Winters Plein Air Festival begins Friday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
Bach Soloists wrap up season on April 28

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A11

 
.

Business

.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Comics: Thursday, April 24, 2014

By Creator | From Page: B6