On the second Saturday of June, the Stewards met to learn about fruit thinning, tree training, and non-toxic sprays. We started by identifying different diseases Stewards found in their orchards. Now that the rains have settled down and fruit is budding, it is much easier to see potential threats, like brown rot, fireblight, and so much more. Mushy, dark fruit is a sign of brown rot; leaves that look like they caught fire in the middle of the spring is the first sign of fireblight. Stewards, despite still being concerned with the nature of their trees, have gotten a keen sense of how to ID fruit tree problems.
First thing first, we ID-ed brown rot on Govans Presbyterian’s cherry trees from pictures they took in the middle of the wet May. We proceeded to fruit thin at Real Food Farm. Although fruit thinning is counter-intuitive to some, it helps the fruit remaining grow to it’s fullest potential. It also prevents branches from being too weighed down. On that note, we trained other branches to to be more parallel to the ground. This way, more fruit grows on each branch and limbs are spread out enough for proper ventilation.
Our Stewards got inventive with branch training. Our AmeriCorps members made notches in old stakes to tie twine too. Other Stewards used bricks, cinderblocks, tires, tent stakes. I’m looking forward to see what creative minds come up with next!
After focusing on fruit and tree architecture, we moved onto using the coveted backpack sprayer. We used fish oil to create a protective barrier for the trees especially in the threat of fireblight at the farm. There are plenty of other non-toxic sprays a Steward can use including sulfur, neem oil, and diluted milk. The Carroll Park crew took the sprayer for the next week of work on those beautiful old trees. Thanks to non-profit partnership, Stewards can also rent backpack sprayers at the Community ToolBank.
Happy Summer Solstice!