Delicious Fresh Figs

As summer ends, it’s time to enjoy the flavor and freshness of homegrown figs. Figs are perfect if you want a sweet fruit that you can pick off the tree and eat fresh. They will ripen over the span of about two weeks or so.  Delicious fresh figs are succulent, yet fragile while fresh with rich dark hues and elegant shape. To prepare, wash well, and lay on a paper towel to dry. Use ripe figs as soon as possible to experience their awesome flavor or refrigerate up to three days. Figs are rich and chewy when dried or freeze them for up to six months for later use. Most of all, enjoy your figs.

Check out our post on Brown Turkey Figs and these amazing recipes at FoodNetwork!

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Video Explaining Apple Tree Scab Disease

Symptoms Of Apple Scab Disease

Apple Scab Disease is a plant disease commonly found in domestic apples and ornamental crabapple trees.  Symptoms include dark brown or black lesions on the surface of leaves and fruit. Apple scab is caused by the ascomycete fungus, Venturia inaequalis. An aggressive infection of this type will eventually reduce fruit quality, rendering it inedible. Fruit quantity is also affected.  Apple Scab may occur over successive growing seasons; however, this fungus rarely kills its host. So if you are interested in planting apple trees or have a home orchard, then watch the video explaining the Apple Scab life cycle.

apple scab disease
Apples with dark lesions are infected with Apple Scab Disease. By Shuhrataxmedov – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=39951147

Video Explaining Apple Scab Life Cycle

Watch this easy to understand video explaining the critical stages that occurs during this fungal infection.

It all about moisture and temperature when it comes to apple scab infections. The wetter and warmer the weather is during springtime, the more vigorous the disease will become.

When the ascospores from Venturia inaequalis land on wet apple buds, leaves, or fruit, they germinate and grow into the apple tissue. The time required depends on temperature and the presence of a wet surface. At 39°F and 28 hours of continuous moisture will result in an infection, while between 61 to 75°F, only 6 hours are required.

After the fungus has penetrated, it continues to grow and enlarge within the plant tissues. It takes approximately 9 to 17 days for a visible scab to form. Development occurs more rapidly at higher temperatures. This initial infection is known as the primary phase.

If left untreated, a secondary infection will eventually develop on the plant surfaces, which appear as asexual conidia. These new conidiospores are easily dislodged when the lesions are wet and transferred by the wind to new leaf and fruit surfaces on the tree. This is known as the secondary phase.

Choosing Disease Resistant Varieties

Many attractive and tasty apple varieties are available that have resistance to apple scab disease. Some varieties have more resistance than others. However, these apples are still susceptible to other fungal diseases like powdery mildew and cedar apple rust.  That said, gardeners may still have to use fungicides on these trees.

Apple Cultivars: Scab Resistance Selections
Crimson Crisp Gold Rush Querina
Crimson Gold Novamac ** Redfree
Crimson Topaz Otava Rubinola
Freedom ** Enterprise ** Williams Pride **
** suitable for home orchards

Links

Purdue University explains chemical management using conventional fungicides

Some easy tips on how to get rid of Apple Scab Disease

Brown Turkey Fig Trees Facts

I can remember from when I was a young child that fig trees were special.  I would go with my dad and visit his friends.  Everyone was proud of their fig trees.  Some people even had a story to tell about their trees, how it came from the old county in a grandmother’s suitcase or something like that.  Back in the day, most figs trees were gifts from neighbor to neighbor. Over the fence, from one yard to another. A specialty plant that was not easy to buy. A friend would say to you “try my figs, they taste delicious!” or “you never had a fig quite like this…these are the best!” But enough of that, the whole purpose of this article is to teach you about brown turkey fig trees. So read on to learn more brown turkey tree facts.

figLeaves
Ficus carica ‘Brown Turkey’ Fig is an attractive deciduous tree with fragrant foliage 5 to 10 inches long and 4 to 7 inches wide. The leaves are deeply lobed.

Brown Turkey Tree Facts

The Brown Turkey Fig, Ficus carica, can be purchased at your local garden store. If you are interested in growing fig plants I recommend finding your hardiness zone first. This will give you a better understanding if brown turkey figs are is right for your location. They are heat-tolerant and require full sun all day to ripen palatable fruits. That’s why most gardeners will plant their figs with Southern exposure to optimize light and protect the tree during the winter months from freezing.

Fruit Color Brown
Fruit Size Small to Medium
Taste Mild and Sweet
Texture Fleshy and Soft
Pollination Self-pollinating
Ripens June – September
Light Requirements Full Sun
Soil Composition Loamy and well-drained
Soil pH 6.0 – 6.5
Years to bear figs 1 to 2 years
USDA Growing Zone Range 5 – 9

Caring For Brown Turkey Figs

Here’s how to grow a fig tree in your garden. Plant fig trees outdoors in the early spring or late fall, when the tree is dormant. The soil needs to be well-drained and with plenty of organic material. You will need to water young fig trees regularly to help them become established. Adding a layer of mulch around the tree will help to prevent weeds and keep in moisture for the roots. Depending on your growing zone, it’s not the summer but the winter that is the killer of fig trees.  If you have several very cold winters in succession, chances are that the fig will die back but the roots will survive.  It will then grow back next spring and bear fruit. Most gardeners wrap their fig trees for protection during the winter months.

Do Brown Turkey Figs Have Wasps In Them?

Common figs such as Brown Turkey Figs do not require pollination from another tree, they are self-pollinating.  However, you may want to plant pollinating partners to increase your crop yield, but doing so is optional. There are no wasps inside a brown turkey fig because this variety is self-pollinating and does not require the service of insects.  However, some varieties such as Calimyrna figs do require Pleistodontes wasps as insect pollinators.

The Taste Is Amazing!

The Brown Turkey Fig is perfect if you want a sweet fruit that you can pick off the tree and eat fresh. They are succulent, yet fragile while fresh with rich dark hues and elegant shape. To prepare, wash well and lay on a paper towel to dry. Use ripe figs as soon as possible to experience their awesome flavor or refrigerate up to three days. Figs are rich and chewy when dried or freeze them for up to six months for later use. Most of all, enjoy your figs.

 

Growing Crabapple Trees

There are several reasons to consider planting a crabapple tree this season. Their ability to help pollinate other apple trees, their tasty fruit can be used to make jellies, preserves, and cider, as well as their amazing blooms,  make a beautiful addition to your yard or orchard.  If you are interested in planting a crabapple tree and learning about its many uses then read on.

The history of apples is tangled, gnarly and otherwise difficult to understand. It has taken scientists with their knowledge of DNA and archeologists decades to unravel the origins of this fruit.  The cultivated sweet apple, Malus domestica, was domesticated from Malus sieversii, a wild apple that thrived in the Tian Shan mountains in Central Asia. Apple cultivation expanded along the Silk Road trade routes linking both Europe and Asia.  On its migration to Europe, these apple trees further hybridized with other wild apple species to develop the European crabapple, Malus sylvestris.  From there crabapples expanded into many different varieties from ornamentals to pollinators.  So as you can see, it was a tangled mess of cross-pollination and human intervention over many centuries that gave us these trees as we know them today.

The English generally used the fruit from crabapple trees to make hard cider. In fact, the word crab comes from the old English crabbe, meaning bitter or sharp tasting.  Eventually, the colonist brought crabapples to settlements in America. Starting as early as 1623, colonists brought seeds from Europe to plant crabapple trees. As in England, the orchards planted in America were used primarily for making hard cider, as the fermentation process sterilized cider through the addition of alcohol. This made the cider safer to drink than the water in early America.

crab-apples-fruit
Crabapples are deciduous, their leaves are simple and arranged alternately. Their fruits are small usually between 1/4″ to 2″.

Growing Your Own Crabapple Tree

Most temperate climates from USDA planting zones 4 to 10 will support the growth of crabapples. These trees vary from a large shrub-like plant, 6 to 8 feet, to a medium tree, 15 to 35 feet tall. They prefer to inhabit relatively open areas with lots of sun exposure and good air circulation. Crabapple trees do not have a particular soil preference. They do best in moist, well-drained and slightly acidic soils. The site for planting should be prepared a year ahead so that early spring plantings can be made into weed-free locations. For the best success, the hole for planting needs to be approximately two feet larger in radius than the seedling’s root system.   If the tree was grafted to a rootstock then the graft must remain above ground.

Ornamental Crabapples Make A Lovely Addition To Your Garden

Adam’s Crabapple Marilee Crabapple
Cardinal Crabapple Pink Princess
Ivory Spear Crabapple  Prairie Rose Crabapple
Lollipop Crabapple Royal Beauty Crabapple
Louisa Crabapple Show Time Crabapple
crab-apple-flowers
The fragrant, five-petaled, white, pink, carmine or purplish flowers appear early in showy groups, some cultivars producing semi-double (6–10 petals) or double (more than 10 petals) per blossom.

Can You Eat Crabapples?

Absolutely! They’re perfectly edible.  The difference between edible crabapples and ornamental crabapples is the size of the fruit. Edible varieties have fruit that are about two inches in diameter or less. These varieties are excellent for making cider or jellies, whereas ornamentals have tiny fruit or no fruit at all and have not been bred for flavor. If you are going to eat your crabapples, plant a variety with large fruit to get the largest yield from your tree.

Crabapple fruits are high in pectin. Pectin is a natural fiber found in plant cell walls and is most concentrated in the fruit skin. It is water-soluble and binds with sugar and fruit acid to form a gel. So what does all this mean? It means that to make crabapple jelly all you need is fruit, sugar, and spices. Additionally, crabapple fruits are a good source of malic and tartaric acid which gives the fruit its sour flavor and may have some medicinal benefits.  With so many different varieties of crabapples and their unique flavors, I can’t think of a single reason for not having a few crabapples in the yard.

Crabapples As Pollinators of Sweeter and Larger Apple Varieties

Some crabapples can be used for cross-pollination if they flower at the same time as the larger, sweeter commercial apple varieties.  Almost all apple trees require pollen from another compatible apple variety to set fruit, we call this cross-pollenation. This is because the majority of apple trees are what we call self-incompatible, that is they need another variety called a pollenizer to make fertilization happen. It just so happens that crabapple tree pollen will pollinate most larger and sweeter commercial apple varieties provided that they blossom at the same time. However, there are a few triploid ornamental crab apple varieties with sterile pollen or little to no pollen. So if you are buying new trees, check to see whether the trees you are purchasing have viable pollen for cross-pollination.

So think of a crabapple tree as some type of universal apple pollenizer. Crabapples are so effective at pollinating other apple varieties that growers can add them to their orchards to promote fruit set. When you are planting apple trees in a new garden, plant a crabapple within 50 feet of your other apple trees to ensure good pollination.  In fact, just a few cut branches of crab apples in bloom in a bucket of water in the middle of an apple orchard is enough to promote pollination.  It turns out these trees are magnets for the honey bee. The bees visit the crabapple blossoms and then visit the apple blossoms as they open on the sweeter and larger apple trees, thus improving fruit set.

Good Crabapple pollinizers for domestic apples. 

Chestnut Crab Blooms early to midseason
Crimson Gold Blooms midseason to late
Frettingham Crab Blooms mid to late
Indian Summer Blooms same time as Red Delicious
Manchurian Blooms early to midseason
Mt. Blanc™ Blooms late
Mt. Evereste™ Blooms early to midseason
Simpson 10-35 Crab Blooms mid to late
Snowdrift Blooms midseason to late

 

 

 

 

 

Dwarf or Semi-Dwarf Fruit Trees? When Size Matters.

When starting a backyard orchard, there are many decisions to make regarding fruit type,  number of trees, amount of light, and soil composition.  But before all that, the most fundamental question that a gardener should ask is “What size tree can I fit on my property?” Is there sufficient room to grow a standard size tree or is it best to plant semi-dwarf or dwarf trees? You see, it’s all about size.  Dwarf and semi-dwarf fruit trees offer a compact alternative to standard size fruit trees.  From a practical point of view, the tree size of either makes them much easier to prune and pick, not to mention you can add more trees and more varieties to your backyard orchard. Smaller trees also mean that the use of ladders for harvesting may be eliminated completely.

apple tree dwarf apple tree red apples
Fruit trees are an investment in time, money and space. Pick wisely and watch your harvest grow year after year.

What Are Dwarf Fruit Trees? Generally speaking, the fruit trees with the smallest mature height are considered dwarf trees. Dwarf fruit trees grow 8-10 feet tall and wide. If you have limited space for your backyard orchard then dwarf trees are for you. The fruit is the same size as a standard tree, but harvesting is much simpler because of the tree size.  There is a downside to dwarf trees since this type of tree usually has a reduced root system size due to the rootstock used.  Because of this, most dwarf trees require a stake in order to support the additional weight of the fruit. These trees may require more staking in very windy areas.  Additionally, dwarf trees require more fertile soil due to their smaller root systems.

What Are Semi-Dwarf Fruit Trees? Semi-dwarf is the next-larger size in fruit trees. These trees will reach 12-15 feet tall and wide.  A considerable advantage is the average semi-dwarf fruit tree may yield almost twice as much fruit as a dwarf-sized one, without taking up much more space.  Semi-dwarf trees do not need staking since they have stronger root systems. A tree’s productive life usually lasts for 15 to 20 years.  For example, a single semi-dwarf apple tree can produce up to 500 apples in a season.  Their fruit sizes are also the same size as a standard tree.

It’s all about Root Stocks. Fruit trees are grafted to rootstocks rather than being grown from seed. This is because they are not “true-to-type” when grown from seed. What this means is that you do not get the same fruit characteristics as the parent plant due to genetic recombination.  In most cases, growing trees for example, from apple seeds is a waste of time.

For this reason, both dwarf and semi-dwarf trees are propagated using budding and grafting techniques. Grafting allows for exact clones of trees to be produced with identical fruit characteristics as the parent tree. A scion or bud from the desired tree is grafted to a rootstock.  Rootstocks serve as the root system of the tree. The selection of rootstock by the grower has a direct impact on the size of the tree at maturity as well as disease resistance. Dwarfing rootstocks typically produce trees that are about 30% to 60% of the size of standard trees while semi-dwarfing rootstocks typically produce trees that are about 60% to 90% of standard size.

TreeSize

When Can I expect fruit? Semi-dwarf and dwarf fruit trees reach their mature size more quickly than standard varieties. Dwarf apple trees can begin producing full crops of fruit within 2-3 years after planting, while semi-dwarf apple trees typically begin producing crops of fruit at about 4-6 years after planting.  Typically, when you are buying a fruit tree at a nursery it’s probably already about 2-years old.

Which Type Is Best? Well, it depends on your particular situation.  If you have limited growing space, then it would be best to pick the dwarf variety. The care for this tree in terms of pruning will be easier too. Dwarf trees generally reach maturity and begin producing fruit more quickly than their semi-dwarf counterparts. However, if you have the extra room then plant semi-dwarf fruit trees, they will bear more than twice the fruit of its dwarf counterpart.

 

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