Category Archives: Home & Garden

Storage Organize

Gardening brings with it an extraordinary amount of practical paraphernalia. Tools, pots, and planters, potting compost, raffia, string, seeds, and baskets are but a few of the sheds can become an attractive part of the garden architecture if decorated. For tools and equipment, garden sheds bulky and space-consuming examples are the classic solution that most gardens can accommodate, though smaller gardens may be restricted to a mini-shed or tool shed, which can be as small as 30 cm/12 in deep and so can be tucked into a corner. However,

Another solution is to put your goods on show. Garden pots can be very visual and, displayed on weatherproof shelves; can become part of the decorative appeal of the garden. This is an excellent solution for very small gardens and patios, which still need space for the practicals. Instead of buying ready-made garden shelving, you could build your own from timber and treat it with exterior-quality paint. Metal shelves can be given a new life using car spray paint or specially manufactured metal paint, which can even be sprayed straight over old rust.

All shelves should he attached firmly to the garden wall — avoid attaching to the house wall since this could lead to water damage. Once fitted, use the shelves for displays, to store tools, or for bringing on young seedlings, which can look delightful planted in ranks of terracotta pots.

Means of disguise

In an ideal world, garbage bins and recycling containers would be beautiful in themselves, but unfortunately, in reality they are seldom an attractive sight. They are necessary, however, and they do need to be accessible.

You can spend a little effort painting them, using a screen of plants to hide them or camouflaging them with a trellis with plants growing up it. Trellises have the advantage of being compact, long-lasting and attractive.

In spite of its utilitarian name, the potting shed is far more than a useful storage area and behind-the-scenes workroom for the gardener’s al fresco performance. For many gardeners, it is a rustic refuge from everyday concerns, a quiet and solitary place for contemplation and gentle activity, which may or may not be of a horticultural nature.

Potting sheds are seldom shared. In households of more than one individual, one person will generally claim territorial rights and others will trespass at their peril, for here the gardener’s true nature may flourish without interference. Tidiness is optional. Some people will hang meticulously cleaned tools in serried ranks, while others fling rusting relics in heaps on the floor. Pots may be carefully cleaned and sorted ready for use or left where last discarded, according to inclination. Compost (soil mix) is neatly sacked and stacked or thrown with abandon over every surface. Most of us come somewhere between the two extremes, for while we admire orderliness, a natural impatience engenders a tendency towards disorder, and in this one area of our lives, we feel completely free to be occasionally tidy and well organized, but rather more often not.

Stenciling Equipment

Materials

A variety of materials can he used for stencilling, from special stencilling paints and sticks to acrylics and latex. Each has its own properties and will create different effects.

Acrylic stencil paint: acrylic stencil paint is quick-drying, reducing the possibility of the paint running and seeping behind the stencil. Acrylic stencil paints are available in a wide range of colours, and can be mixed for more subtle shades.

Acrylic varnish: this is useful for sealing finished projects.

Emulsion (latex) paint: ordinary household vinyl emulsion can also be used for stencilling. It is best to avoid the cheaper varieties, as these contain a lot of water and will seep through the stencil.

Fabric paint: this is used in the same way as acrylic stencil paint, and comes in an equally wide range of colours. Set with an iron according to the manufacturer’s instructions, it will withstand washing and everyday use. As with ordinary stencil paint, do not overload the brush with colour, as it will seep into the fabric. Always back the fabric you are stencilling with scrap paper or newspaper to prevent the paint from marking the work surface. Gold leaf and gold size: these can be used to great effect. The actual design is stencilled with gold size. The size is then left to become tacky, and the gold leaf is rubbed over the design.

Metallic creams: these are available in many different metallic finishes, from gold to copper, bronze and silver. Apply as highlights on a painted base, or use for the entire design. Creams can be applied with cloths or your fingertip.

Oil-based stencil sticks and creams: the sticks can be used in the same ways a wax crayon, while the creams can be applied with a brush or your fingertip. With either one, there is no danger of overloading the colour, and they won’t run. The disadvantage is their long drying time (overnight in some cases); also, the colours can become muddy when mixed. Sticks and creams are also available for fabrics.

Equipment

Stencilling does not require a great deal of special equipment; many of the items used are commonly found in most households. A few tools, however, will make the job easier.

Brushes: it is worth investing in a set of good stencil brushes. The ends of the brushes should be flat and the bristles firm, to let you control the application of paint. A medium-size brush (4 cm/11/2 in diameter) is a useful, all-purpose size, but you may want to buy one size smaller and one size larger as well. You will need a selection of household paintbrushes for applying large areas of background colour, and small artist’s paintbrushes for adding fine details. Craft knife: use for cutting out stencils from cardboard.

Cutting mat: this provides a firm surface to cut into and will help prevent the craft knife from slipping. Masking tape: as the stencil may need to be repositioned, it is advisable to hold it in place with masking tape, which can be removed fairly easily from most surfaces.

Paint-mixing container: this may be necessary for mixing paints and washes. Pencils: keep a selection of soft and hard artist’s pencils to transfer the stencil design on to cardboard. Use an ordinary pencil to mark on your object the positions of the stencils before applying.

Stencil card (cardboard): the material used to make the stencil is a matter of preference. Speciality stencil card is available waxed from specialist art stores, which means that it will last longer, but ordinary cardboard or heavy paper can also be used. It is worth purchasing a sheet of clear acetate if you wish to keep your stencil design, to reuse time and again.

Tape measure and rulers: some patterns may require accuracy. Measuring and planning the positions of your stencils before you begin will aid the result.

Tracing paper: use to trace and transfer your stencil design on to stencil card

How to Grow Okra

Okra is primarily a hot-weather tropical and can be grown in both northern and southern gardens. A tall-growing annual gumbo grows best in the southern states, where two crops of it can be grown near.

Okra Planting

Okra thrives in any well-kept garden soil in full sunlight. If the soil is wet, the seed tends to rot, so good soil is necessary. These woody plants can take on all the food given to them. Because okra grows rapidly, nitrogen is particularly needed. Poultry manure is splendid material for okra beds. Since it is very strong, only about one-tenth as much chicken manure as other animal manures can be used. Compost, leaf mold, peat moss, and wood ashes can be used to advantage to improve poor soil in the garden. Peat moss and leaf mold are usually acid and a slight amount of lime should be used along with either of these two materials. These soil builders should be plowed under in the winter well before the planting time, or in a small home garden they can be spaded under in the early spring.

The rows should be at least three to five feet apart. The stalks are bushy and can become quite large when well fertilized and during rainy seasons. Scatter the seed in drills or plant loosely in hills and cover to a depth of one to two inches, according to the compactness of the soil. The seed should be separated three or four inches to allow space for the development of the stems. If weather is warm, germination should take place within a few days. But if there is a heavy rainfall in the meanwhile, the soil should be lightly cultivated between the rows and the crust broken up over the seed by means of a garden rake. This is suggested where the soil contains clay or is heavy. Sandy loam will probably not need any such treatment, as the seed will come through when the soil has been drained or the water has been evaporated by the action of the sun. After plants become established, thin them to stand 15 inches apart and mulch lightly.

Okra Insects

The okra plant is not subject to attack from many insects, but the bollworm may be a problem. It bores into the pods and thus injures them. The stinkbug also attacks the pods, piercing them and extracting the juices. Since damage from the latter occurs late in the season, the loss is very little. Blister beetles and leaf beetles often feed upon the foliage of okra but these pests do little harm to the pod and scarcely influence the production of pods at all. Handpicking usually keeps these insects well under control.

Okra Harvesting

Okra pods should be harvested daily when they are one to four inches long. They should still be soft and should be only half grown if pods are eaten. If it is necessary to keep the pods 24 hours, they should be spread out and slightly moistened.

Planting Endives

Often called escarole, which have wider leaves, endives will succeed in any ordinary garden soil not deficient in humus and normal moisture. Like lettuce, its succulent growth must be rather rapid to enable it to form tender leaves. On poor, dry, exposed soil its growth will be slowed up so that its leaves, if they form in quantity, will be tough and unnecessarily pungent.

For success in growing endive, use the same area where lettuce succeeded early in the spring, and add a thin layer of compost in the rows.

Planting Endives

Seed should be thinly covered with not more than 1/3 inch sifted, mature compost humus, clear a mixture of the two. To make the seed, sand and humus may be well mixed in a container and then spread along a shallow trench. The rows should be about one foot apart and the plants should stand one foot apart in the row.

You may find it best to raise flat or a similar container set in a particular spot, or by using a shaded seedbed. Seedbeds may be protected from heat by stretching cheesecloth. When transplanting the young plants in the garden, be sure they are set slightly before they were in the flat and are well firmed; work with the hoe to keep down mulching of straw.

Blanching Endives

This may be accomplished by putting flowerpots over the plants and foot-wide planks on edge with a light-tight miniature root tying up the head. When the plant is fully grown and the head fairly well formed, draw together the long outer and tie them with soft string. The plants should remain covered for about three weeks.

Plants that reach maturity should be gently dug up with a good earth around their roots and set in a corner of a cool, unheated cellar.

Papaya Planting

Papayas are called the “melons on trees.” The fragrant yellow fruit varies in size from two to 20 pounds when ripe. The flavor has been compared to cantaloupes and strawberries and a black seed, papain. They are rich in vitamins A and C and thiamine. The vitamin is higher than that of oranges and strawberries.

The plant itself as various medicinal uses: to cure chronic diarrhea in children, to slough ulcers, to tumor growth, and as a blood coagulant. Fresh, mashed papaya is used as a moisturizer when applied to the face.

Papaya trees are planted eight feet apart. They like a rich, moist soil and thrive on well decomposed compost, aged chicken manure, blood meal, and other organic plant foods rich in nitrogen. Papayas are propagated by seed. The trees begin to bear about four years, but it is a common practice to replant every year or two, as the fruit get smaller after this.

The papaya tree usually grows up to 15 feet in height, and the fruits ripen from mid-winter to early spring. It is hardy only in the lower top of Florida, sometimes in mid-Florida and Southern California if protected. The trunk resembles that of a palm tree and is topped with a cluster of huge, deep lobed trees.

Papaya plants may be male, female or perfect (producing male and female flowers). Long, hanging flower clusters distinguish the male papaya. These ordinarily do no produce fruit. Female and perfect plants have flower clusters at the base of the leaf next to the stem. One male plant per 20 to 25 female plants is best for fruit production. The papaya may suffer a chafe in sex due to severe pruning or injury.

Planting Yuccas

Yucca is usually thought of as a desert or semidesert plant, confined to dry areas of the South and the southwestern desert, but several yuccas are surprisingly hardy in the cool, moist regions of the North.

Yuccas are very handsome plants. Nearly all of the 40-odd species have stiff, swordlike silver green leaves, growing in a clump at ground level. From this clump arises a single leafless stalk bearing a magnificent spike of highly fragrant, waxy flowers.

Yuccas blend handsomely in borders, contrast beautifully with the shapes of both evergreen and deciduous shrubs, and can be planted to stand as majestic sentinels on either side of an entrance gate or door. They also serve well lining a driveway, fence or terrace wall, or as a dramatic living sculpture against low, craggy rocks. Finally, yuccas can be grown in tubs and moved around for special effects.

Yuccas Planting and Culture

All yuccas require a sunny and fairly dry location with a light, sandy or gritty well-drained soil. Digging a deep hole and filling it with a sand-humus mixture will take care of this. Apply compost, bone meal and dried manure to the plants once each year. Watering should rarely, if ever, be necessary. Drought produces a lovely foliage and stem patina on desert-type plants. Yuccas generally flower only in alternate years, but the flowers last four to six weeks.

Yuccas are easy to propagate. They can be increased by seed, rhizome or stem cuttings, or by digging offsets from the side of an established plant.

In nature, the yucca is pollinated by a small white moth, the pronuba. This night-flying insect deposits her eggs in the seed vessel of a blooming yucca, and then fertilizes the plant with pollen from another yucca. When the pronuba grubs hatch out, they find a goodly supply of seeds to eat, but leave plenty to produce more yuccas. Scientists call the yucca-pronuba relationship a perfect example of symbiosis, the mutual interdependence of two things in nature.

Yuccas Types

Two species have trunks. The Joshua tree (Y. brevifolia) grows up to 40 feet high, its branches twisting into grotesque shapes. The Spanish bayonet (Y. aloifolia) is about 20 feet tall, and has very sharp-pointed, long leaves and spectacular white or purple-tinged flowers. Neither of these will stand wet winters, and they grow only in the South.

Blooming yucca then fertilizes the plant with pollen from another yucca. When the pronuba grubs hatch out, they find a goodly supply of seeds to eat, but leave plenty to produce more yuccas. Scientists call the yucca-pronuba relationship a perfect example of symbiosis, the mutual interdependence of two things in nature.

Our-Lord’s-candle (Y. Whipplei) has short basal leaves but sends up great creamy spikes, bearing many blooms. It will not stand frost or wet soil.

Northern gardeners who have never grown the hardy yuccas are missing plants that add great beauty and accent to gardens. One of the best yuccas for northern gardens is the Adam needle (Y. filamentosa), sometimes calm needle palm. It is a deep-rooted, tough-fiberish and some plant that has no trouble in New England winters. Its flower may rise 12 feet or higher. Y. flaccida is a similar species.

Other yuccas for the North are soapweed, and Y. data, both good as far north as southern Minnesota, good drainage and shelter against harsh wind are provided. Y. gloriosa is reportedly able to withstand city smog.

Hydroponic Gardening

From the Greek roots hydro, water, and meaning work, hydroponics is the science of growing plants in water, without soil. Plants are supported in an inert, non-organic medium such as sand, fine gravel or mica compositions, which are saturated with nutrient solutions for short periods. These solutions typically contain phosphorus, potassium, calcium, urn, sulfur, iron, manganese, boron, and copper. All of the essential foods are available to plant roots quantities.

Hydroponic gardening requires a trough for the plants, an aggregate such as gravel or vermiculite for root support water supply with a pH rating of between 6 and 8.5. Nutrient solutions need to be added with water regularly.

Hydroponics has intrigued scientists because it eliminates the need for ordinary cultivation. Its main cost in the labor is saved by automatics and fertilizing, although installation costs are generally pretty high. So greater crops yield result from hydroponic gardens. Until very recently, corn-acceptance and implementation of hydroponics methods have been impeded by the reliance on chemical nutrient solutions and frequent testing.

With mounting interest in urban agriculture and rooftop food production, however, hydroponics seems destined to assume greater significance. The organic grower can either use a tea made from high-quality compost, or can mix a basic solution of one tablespoon fish emulsion, one tablespoon liquid seaweed, and a teaspoon of blood meal to each gallon of water. The mix varies, depending on the type of plant to be grown. Less blood meal should be used with flowering and fruiting produce than with leafy crops. Other nutrients can also be added: blended eggshells, for example, might be helpful when added to a cabbage crop. Organic hydroponics is very much in a developing stage, and a taste for experimentation is essential.

While soil is cheaper than perlite or vermiculite, it is significantly more difficult to cart up to a rooftop in bulk. Moreover, container soil is prone to rapid leaching and usually requires repeated fertilization, so the actual cost of organic fertilizers for hydroponically grown plants is comparable with that for conventionally grown plants. Hydroponics advocates also point out that since hydroponic roots do not need to grow as far in search of nourishment as the roots of soil-grown plants, planting densities can be more intensive and higher yields can be achieved.

The equipment for hydroponic production can be constructed simply and inexpensively. The container must be elevated slightly at one end and have drainage holes at the opposite end. One-inch plastic pipes with holes drilled every three inches are laid about an inch below the medium and raised at both ends of the box. Smaller rubber hoses coming from the nutrient supply are inserted into the pipe at one end; the upward bend in the pipe at the opposite end stops the flow of the solution. A gravity system for controlling nutrient flow composed of two five-gallon buckets elevated on boxes and standing two feet above the top of the growing container, makes it easy to add nutrients and care for the hydroponic plants.

Planting Aloe Seeds

Grown mainly outdoors in the warmer climates, aloe vera remains among the most popular houseplants. Famous for its medicinal qualities, aloe vera is used to soothe skin irritation, hair care and cosmetics. To grow the plant most persons will start with a ‘pup’ which is a cutting from a mature aloe vera plant. The main reason for this is that they tend to grow a little faster. However, using seeds is also a good option considering that mature plants from seeds do not take considerably longer.

When growing aloe vera from seeds, on average you need aloe vera seed, potting soil, compost, plastic planting tray, 3-inch pots, sand, peat and water. To start, mix peat and sand, then use the moist mixture to fill the plastic planting try. Seeds must be sown on top of the mixture then covered by sprinkling compost over them.

Caring for the Aloe Seed after Planting

The tray must then be placed in a location with temperatures between 70°F and 78°F. Trays must be exposed to sufficient light since this will significantly help the seeds to germinate. Sunlight is essential for germination however, a brown discoloration can result from sunburn so light should be indirect.

Without over watering, ensure that the soil is always moist. It can take anywhere between one to four months for germination to start. Once the seedlings have grown large enough to hold without breaking, the 3-inch pots filled with potting soil should be used to transplant them. Pots are used as the permanent beds for aloe vera because they are often grown for ornamental purposes in and around the home.

When using pots, make sure that the potting soil is well-drained and sandy. Some gardeners prefer to use terracotta (unglazed, clay-based ceramic) pots because they are porous. Making sure that there is a drainage hole can be a good step. Commercial pre-packaged or propagation mixes aid good drainage and are recommended where available. Most will have granite grit or coarse sand as well as extra perlite in them. Succulent and cacti mixes tend to eliminate the guess work as well.

In cold areas or seasons, the pots should be stored indoors (whether in the home or a greenhouse) and kept as warm as possible since they are intolerant of heavy snow and frost. Aloe Vera is resistant to most insects so pest control is relatively easy however, scale insects, aphid species and mealy bugs can damage them.

When watering potted plants, it is important that gardeners allow plants to dry completely before watering them again to avoid sogging which will undermine their health and overall growth. During cold months plants tend to dry out slower than normal so reduce watering.

Watch your aloe vera plants for new shoots when they begin to mature. Once shoots are 3 to 4 inches tall they should be removed to their own pots or they will suck the life from their ‘mother plant’. This is characterized by the mature plant turning bright green and spreading its leaves horizontally instead of upward. Leave newly potted plants for 3 weeks before watering, turning grey or brown shortly after repotting is normal and not a sign that they need water.

Planting Orchids

Cultivation of Hardy Orchids

Many of these are beautiful and quite showy—very worthwhile additions to the garden—and most are quite easily grown if proper attention is given to their requirements. Primary emphasis must be given to soil. Most orchid species require an acid soil of a fibrous loam or peat type that stays moist. Knowledge of their habitat in the wild is essential because some grow in bogs or swamps, some in shady cool woodlands, while others are found in meadows among the grasses where the soil stays cool and damp and some grow even in fairly dry, grassy plains areas. The most important thing is to duplicate as closely as possible their natural habitat in regard to soil and conditions of sun and shade.

Protection from cold during the winter is also important and a heavy mulch of leaves or several inches of peat moss spread over the bed will usually be adequate.

Where to Obtain Orchids

Many dealers in native plant materials list a number of the species most easily grown and having showy flowers. Oftentimes, these dealers can also give suggestions as to their culture. Orchid bulbs are often imported for sale, mainly those of Asiatic origin. Some may be collected from the woods and fields, but one should check on local and state conservation laws before venturing on this quest, and then only at the proper time. Sept. and Oct., when the bulbs and tubers have matured, is the best time for transplanting, but the plants are almost impossible to find then. The best way is to go to the woods in the spring, locate and mark the plants while in bloom, and then return in the fall to collect them. Collecting these plants when in flower and while in active growth is nearly always fatal. They should be taken up with a sizable ball of soil attached to the roots, the bigger, the better, as large as you can manage to transport. Good ones to grow are: Arethusa, Blettilla, Calopogon, Cypripedium (native species), Habenaria, Orchis and Pogonia. Others that will also be worthwhile, though not quite so showy, are Aplectrum, Goodyera and Liparis.

It is best to start with plants that are strong, full grown, well established in the pot and ready to bloom soon. Don’t start out with small, weak plants, seedlings or back bulbs, since they will take several years to bloom and are likely to cause trouble for the novice.

Orchid Problems

Orchids are extremely tough plants that are seldom troubled by diseases, but there are a few cultural problems that crop up. Plants that grow well but do not bloom, especially those with tall, slender, dark, glossy green foliage, need more sun or a food with less nitrogen. “Black-rot” and “soft-rot” in the leaves and pseudo bulbs is usually a sign of too much water, too high humidity, a lack of sufficient air movement or ventilation or a need of repotting. Rotten areas should be cut out, cutting well into the clear green tissue around it, and then the cuts should be sealed with a fungicide powder. Plants should then be dried off for a few days to allow the cut to heal.

Insect problems arise with orchids, as with other plants, but the plants are so tough that the effects are not usually drastic and the symptoms usually take much longer to appear than with other types of plants. Treatment and sprays to be used are the same as for other plants except that new sprays, unless specifically recommended for orchids, should be tested gingerly on a few plants first.

Sunburn usually shows up as large, rough, scalded or blistered-looking areas which turn black with a yellowish margin and then turn hard, dry, gray and papery in a few days or weeks. If the blackened area is soft, squashy and wet or greasy to the touch, then the problem is “black-rot” rather than sunburn.

Orchid Virus Diseases

Several virus diseases are recognized in orchids and, though most are not very wide-spread, it is best to sterilize between every cut all instruments used for cutting orchid plants to avoid transferring a possible virus infection from one plant to another. The 2 most easily recognized are “Flower-Break” virus which causes uneven blotching and “color-break” in the flowers, particularly on Cattleyas, and “Orchid Mosaic” virus which causes light and dark streaks parallel to the veins in the leaves of Cattleyas and some others. Another form is known as “Ring-Spot” which causes yellowish and sometimes dark brownish-black ring-shaped spots in the leaves. There is no known cure for any of these virus diseases, so suspected plants should be isolated until some authority can inspect them. Infected plants should be destroyed, since the virus can be spread to others. Insects that chew and suck on the plants are said to be one method of spreading the virus, but the orchid grower with his cutting tools is much more likely to be the offender. He can spread the virus every time he divides a plant, cuts off a flower, an old bulb or leaf, so it is best to sterilize all cutting instruments between every cut and no doubt it would be wise to sterilize pots between uses, also.

Planting Apple Trees

Cultivated in Europe for more than 2,000 years, the apple was introduced to this country soon after the Europeans first arrived. Today, Washington, New York, Michigan, California, Pennsylvania, and Virginia are the leading producers of apples. The number of trees has dropped since early in this century, but yields have remained about the same thanks to superior sites, soils and better orchard management. Per capita consumption of apples has suffered as better transportation has made citrus fruit more available. The most popular varieties are Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, McIntosh, Rome Beauty, Jonathan, and York. Such old standbys as Baldwin, Grimes, Northern Spy, and Wealthy are losing popularity.

Apples will grow in almost any soil, but do best in a clay loam. A general rule is that they thrive in soils suited to common cereals and potatoes. A sloped site promotes air drain-age, thus minimizing frost damage, but also encourages soil erosion. Such steep sites can be grown to alfalfa sod, and the growth cut two or three times a season.

Trees must be provided with plenty of organic matter, such as a heavy mulch of alfalfa or grass clippings. Sweet clover, seeded late in July, makes an excellent winter ground cover. Leave it standing through the following summer or turn it under in spring. If the surface soil is low in fertility, rye will do better than clover but must be turned under before it develops fully, as it tends to grow woody when mature and could threaten young trees.

Mulches should be deep enough to smother the weeds beneath the branches. Increase the depth of the mulches as the years pass: a five-year-old tree can use 100 pounds of straw; trees two to four years old will need proportionately less.

Natural forms of nitrogen can be applied in the fall after the foliage has dropped. Use 21/4 pounds of dried blood or 41/2 pounds of cottonseed meal per tree. If too much nitrogen reaches a tree late in the season, the resultant growth may be susceptible to winter injury.

Young trees have shallow root systems, and are therefore more vulnerable to shortages of water and nutrients than well-established trees. Larger trees also can rely on food re-serves in the bark and wood in hard times.

To protect trees from field mice and other small animals, place fine-mesh wire screens or wrap two thicknesses of aluminum foil around the base in the fall. Also, staking a new tree may be necessary where wind or heavy snow might cause it to grow crooked. Placing a four-inch barrier of one to two-inch crushed rock on the bottom, sides and top of the planting hole is also effective.

In late winter or early spring, while trees are dormant and before their buds begin to swell, a dormant oil spray should be applied. This mixture of 3 percent miscible oil and water smothers many insect eggs before hatching.

Planting Apples

Buy healthy one or two-year-old trees about three to five feet tall and plant them after the leaves have fallen, from late October into early November. Freshly dug trees can also be planted early in spring, but in spring land dries slowly and the growing season maybe well advanced by the time the orchard is planted. Young apple trees withstand the shock of transplanting best when they are dormant, another good reason for fall planting. By planting your trees before the ground freezes, some new growth of the roots will take place at once and the trees will have a good start on the sea-son when spring comes.

Set the trees 40 feet apart in and between the rows. Make the holes for them just large enough to accommodate the root development of each tree. Set the trees an inch lower in the ground than they stood in the nursery; a young apple tree will not root any deeper by deep planting, and may suffer for it.

Trees of at least two varieties should be planted within 50 feet of one another, because pollination of one variety by the pollen from another is usually required for the trees to bear.

Apple Nutrition

If your soil is very acid, broadcast one pound of lime and 1/2 pound of phosphate rock per tree over the entire orchard before planting. One-half this amount may well be sufficient for young trees grown in a cover crop that is mowed for mulch. If apple trees are grown in sod and mulched with non-legume hay, add dried blood or other nitrogenous fertilizer. Increase the amount with each recurring season, reaching a maximum application of two pounds of nitrogen for seven or eight-year-old trees. Apply nitrogenous material in a circle about three feet wide under the outer extremities of the branch spread.

A deficiency of nitrogen will show up as small, yellowish leaves. If the foliage rolls and scorches that indicates a lack of potassium in the soil. A liberal mulch of manure (or clover mulch to which lime has been added) mixed with the right amount of potash rock to the acre, will adjust the potassium deficiency.

Falling Apples

The fall of apples, if not in excess, is a natural phenomenon, nature’s way of removing improperly pollinated fruit. This also removes fruit that the tree could not normally bring to maturity without exhausting its nutrient supply. Two abscission periods generally occur. The “first drop” begins shortly after petal fall and lasts for two or three weeks. The so-called “June drop,” which begins a few days after the completion of the first drop, is somewhat of a misnomer since it normally spans two to four weeks anywhere from late May to early June. Excessive drop may be caused by a deficiency of boron or magnesium, or by too little moisture, and heavy applications of nitrogen may encourage drop.

Apple Scab

Apple scab spends the winter on dead fruit and dead leaves on or under the tree. It can be prevented largely by carefully removing all dead leaves and fruit to the compost heap and mulching under the tree. A dormant oil spray will also help.

Old Apple Trees

Apple trees may bear crops for 30 to 50 years. If the trunk or branches are badly rotted or about a quarter of the top is dead through disease or winter injury, it is not ordinarily worthwhile to attempt salvage. However, here’s some general advice when trying to bring new life into old neglected trees:

Cut out old wood and prune heavily to strong, new growth; remove all suckers not necessary to replace the top; prune out inter-lacing branches to open the trees to light and the circulation of air; break up the soil around the tree, working in a great deal of compost, manure and organic materials; apply organic nitrogen such as dried blood, cottonseed meal or nitrogen-rich sludge, about 25 to 35 pounds per tree; mulch heavily. Do this regularly for several seasons.

Vitamin C Content of Apples

Apples are an important source of vitamin C, although the varieties differ greatly in their level of this vitamin. While five Delicious apples provide a minimum amount of vitamin C, one could get the same amount from two Wine saps or one Baldwin. Yellow Newton and Northern Spy are other good sources. McIntosh, Jonathan and York Imperial rate low in vitamin C.

Baldwin is widely grown in the eastern United States. It is sensitive to the climatic extremes existing west of Lake Michigan, how-ever. Northern Spy, another high-C apple, is also adaptable to the midcontinent and eastern region. Northern Spy is an excellent dessert or eating apple, but is not too useful for cooking. Baldwin is just the reverse. It is good for making pies and applesauce, but not too good for eating fresh. So by planting both of those trees you will get good supplies of both cooking and eating apples that are rich in vitamin C.

Tests have shown that most of the vitamin C in apples is right in or under the skin, and the skin can contain five times as much of the vitamin as the flesh. It is interesting that small apples are richer in vitamin C than large apples; small apples have more area of skin per pound of fruit, and this greater percentage of skin is probably the cause of the higher vitamin C content. It is fortunate that apples lose very little of their vitamin C in storage. If stored at 36°F. (2.22°C.), Baldwin apples will lose no vitamin C over a period of five or six months. However, if the storage temperature gets up to 45° F (7.22° C), some of the vitamin content will be lost.

Selecting a Location for an Apple Tree

Each variety does best in certain regions of the country. In the Northeast, the Great Lakes keep the growing season cool and summer rainfall is usually dependable. Growers in the central Atlantic region worry more about rainfall. Warmer temperatures dictate that most orchards be placed at fairly high elevations in the Appalachians. Warm temperatures in the Ohio Basin region cause more importance to be placed on a sufficient rainfall; droughts tend to be quite serious. Soils that can hold water well to a depth of three to four feet will minimize the threat of damage. In the north central states, cold winters are the grower’s main concern. Cold-resistant varieties have been developed, and include Haralson, Honeygold, Red Baron, Joan, Secor, Anoka, and Regent. Sunny summers and relative freedom from spring frost damage make the West Coast an excellent apple-growing area, although large orchards often must be irrigated.

In general, the primary consideration determining what variety can be grown is temperature. Talk with growers in the immediate area and extension service agents about the dangers of spring frost, in particular, and the suitability of temperature the rest of the year.

A persistent heavy wind may render a site unsuitable, making spraying difficult and affecting fruit set. The best sites are elevated rolling or sloping fields; low-lying areas tend to collect cold air.

Although they cost a bit more initially, dwarf apple trees offer several advantages to the home orchardist. Most standard apple varieties take five to ten years to bear fruit; dwarf trees bear from one to three years after planting. A dwarf produces an average of one to three bushels (50 to 150 pounds) of fruit per season—plenty for the average family—and the fruit is as large as or larger than that of the standard tree. Because they grow only six to eight feet high – 15 feet in the case of semidwarfs – dwarfs are easy to spray and pick from. They also require much less space; you can plant six dwarfs in the amount of space required for one standard tree.

Gardeners interested in growing some of the colorful old apple varieties of yesteryear, either for their superior regional adaptability or exceptional taste, should consider grafting scions of old varieties like American Beauty, Rhode Island Greening and Cox Orange. Individuals and groups who raise these old favorites can often be traced through local nurseries, horticultural societies or county agricultural extension offices. Other old-time varieties that once flourished in backyards and small orchards include Ben Davis, Black Gilliflower, Blue Pearmain, Esopus Spitzenburg, Maiden’s Flush, Pound Sweet, Twenty Ounce, and Fameuse.