Vegetable gardens

February 4th 2016 and there has been a Salmonella outbreak reported after several people became ill after consuming pre packed lettuce purchased from Woolworths and Coles supermarkets in Melbourne. The lettuce that is in question are those that have an expiry date before February 14 2016, these products have been recalled.  Sydney Morning Herald

Apart from the use of herbicides and pesticide, food contamination occurs sometime occurs with the produce we buy from the supermarket. If growing your own fresh fruit and vegetables is an option for you, it can be not only more healthy for you but more environmentally friendly. If you need some advice on starting your own vegetable garden, please let us know and we can help.

When and how to prune fruit trees

The first thing you need to know is the difference between buds that produce leaves and the buds that produce fruit. In winter the fruit buds are plump, round and the scales are particularly downy on apples, cherries,plums and pears. Spur bearers produce fruit on two year old wood and tip bearers on the previous years wood. Most fruit trees are spur bearers which grow closer to the trunk of the tree and produce fruit for several years. Peaches and Nectarine’s produce fruit on laterals produced the previous summer, which only produce for one season so there must be new growth retained to get fruit the following season.Trees that are tip bearers need to be pruned much less vigorously. Leaf buds are much smaller, slender and borne on leaf axils. Pruning is done to regulate growth, allow air and light to enter the framework and encourage flowers and fruit. Most are pruned to a vase shape but some can be trained as espalier. In the first few years the aim of pruning is just to establish a good strong framework for your tree so that the shape is good and picking is easy. Later, the main reasons for pruning is to remove dead or diseased wood, thin overcrowding growth and removing inward growing branches while maintaining the vase shape.

Most fruit trees should be pruned in winter but it is better to prune apricots in Autumn as the wounds heal quicker making them less susceptible to disease attack. Always make the cut on an angle so that water will run off when it rains. Before starting make sure all of your pruning equipment is sharp and clean.First remove all shoots that are growing from the base of the tree up to the first branch of the main canopy. Remove all dead or damaged branches that are flaky or discolored. Also remove any branches growing directly upwards these are generally water shoots, poor fruit bearers and crowed and shade the rest of the tree. Cut off any crossing over branches or branches that grow inwards to encourage a vase shape. Cut back the rest of the branches about one third to an outward facing bud to encourage thick branches and maintain the vase shape. Remember to spray trees with lime after pruning to protect trees from disease such as leaf curl.

The diagram below shows,

1 How to prune in the first year

2 The trees growth in it’s second year

3 After it’s prune in the second year

4 its growth in the third year

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when do I spray my fruit trees

I first spray my nectarines, peaches, cherries and pears with lime sulphur the last week in July. Fruit trees need to be sprayed at bud swell which happens as the weather starts to get warmer, generally in August. I spray the last week in July and again about mid August depending on how the buds are swelling in aim to spray at the right time which is just before they split. Some apples can not be sprayed with lime so I spray them with a copper spray.