By Seymour Mills
I would like to offer something for the Fireblight that is very cheap to try and I think it will work. I’m pretty sure that is what I had to deal with. Mix a heavy solution of garden lime in water and scrub loose any diseased looking area and paint on the lime/water solution with a brush several times a few days apart anyplace that even looks suspicious and also paint the bud area when still dormant before blossom. I would imagine that spraying would work if the area is large, but working individual areas I think works best and every place you prune or where there is an old pruning mark where a waterspout or etc. was pruned earlier. Most things depend on a particular PH for growth or survival, and besides the lime/water is good for the tree for added calcium. In my experience it kills the problem and it will start healing pretty soon. I had a bout with black sawfly caterpillars back in 2003 and hand smashed them everyday for about 1 to 2 hours for about 2 weeks and they still de-leafed some things. They attacked one variety of red currents and a different variety nearby they ignored and the same with different rhubarb, and willows. Only one variety over another. Being on the bottom of the leaf makes it hard to spray anything but if it happens again I want to try some homemade spray out of hot peppers and garlic and horseradish etc. Also a friend of mine swears by common wood ashes to repel carpenter ants. He says when they encounter it on the ground they turn around and leave. I haven’t had a need to try it yet for myself.
If anyone will be traveling near Northport, Washington, I would like to encourage them to look up the new owners of what used to be Bear Creek Nursery there, to see what is still at the nursery and maybe find a way to get some of that stock up to Alaska. He had a very good selection and many apples not even offered yet. Possibly the new owners could even be encouraged to re-open the nursery at least on a small scale. I was told by another nursery that it is currently owned by a family that only uses some of the fruit. It was a terrible loss to Alaskans when that nursery closed down and I would like to at least look for a way to get some of his stock. I had better luck with his plants than anyone and especially his Ranetka rootstock he grafted on. It grew extremely vigorous the first year for me and also later and established a very good root system. His bench grafts really grew well for me in this area. I do believe he must have had a particular strain of Ranetka he had developed.