Alaska Pioneer Fruit Growers Association

From the Editor’s Garden 2005

December 23, 2005

Fall blew in on a windstorm this year, the normal mode up here, but this year it seemed to be nearly a month late.  I usually have a killing frost by the end of August, and it was the beginning of October before frost finally took my beans, squash, and pumpkins.

 

The winds blew over one of my loaded apple trees and one of my opal plums (no fruit).  I think I should consider staking them, though I have never had a problem before.  I have doubts that the plum will survive the winter, as the wind whipped the trunk back and forth, severing roots nearly a full 360 degrees around the trunk.  Only the tap-root keeps it in the ground.  When I went out to fix it I watered in the roots and packed down more soil, but it seemed there was a large air pocket down one side of the plant, as bubbles rose for some time as I added more water and more soil.  The tree had been in the ground 2 years, so it is hard for me to believe the air was there that whole time, but I do not know how such a large air pocket may have developed.  If anyone has any ideas, please let me know!

 

Now winter has arrived, it seems, with no snow.  The ground has frozen so that I cannot dig the last of my leeks.  My orchard still has frozen green leaves I will need to go pluck when the first wet blanket decides to descend upon us, let the branches break with the load.  I can’t help but wonder if the constant supply of nitrogen from the chickens and ducks has kept the fruit trees so green so late.

 

This year I got 2 grafted trees per single rootstock on many of my trees by cutting off the long tap roots on some of my rootstocks and grafting directly onto it.   In the past I threw these roots away when they would not fit in the pot.  This year I used any tap roots that were at least 8 inches long and that had some root hairs on them.  I just used the usual whip and tongue graft and planted it so the graft was just above the soil line.  When I re-pot, I will put the graft just below the soil line.  The success rate on the tap root grafts was only about 50%, but that is better than throwing away those roots!