Alaska Pioneer Fruit Growers Association

From the President

December 23, 2008

By Pat Mulligan

 

Hello members.  Much of the value of this group is the sharing of experience. When one member tries something new, we all benefit.  Why should we miss new, hardier plants or make the same mistakes?  Our newsletters convey some of our experiences.  Please join me in thanking Dawn Deiser for scanning our hardcopy newsletter library into a digital library.

Here are a few of my experiences.

Successes

Female Seaberries made it thru 2 winters in pots and were actually suckering in the pots.   Very hardy.

Honeyberries ditto.  Both the potted and in ground plants thrived except for 1 of the late blooming varieties, Blue Pacific (it couldn’t make 1 winter in the ground).

Raspberries-After trying to grow them on a lot with little sun, I have lots of ground with no shade.  I’ll be rolling in raspberries.

Pie Cherries grafted to Amur Chokecherry made it thru last winter in pots and did well after planting.  Time will tell for fruit.

Earth boxes. I need a better greenhouse, but tomatoes really like the boxes.  (Thanks Tami)

Painted rocks  At the first sign of a bird pecking strawberries, I painted lots of rocks red and spread them around the patch.  No more pecked berries. (Again Thanks Tami)   I need to paint rocks to look like honeyberries and saskatoons – Robins really like those.

Failures

Saskatoons left in pots for 2 winters – Dead

Aronia chokecherries left in pots for 2 winters – Dead

Blueberries-Even Northland blueberries freeze back to the snowline.  I got about a dozen berries 2 years ago.

Grapes-I have wasted more time and money trying to get grapes to not freeze back to the snowline.  Most died out last winter.  Looked like we were going to have a good snowcover this year.  All gone now.  I have to appreciate Tom Plocher for sticking with me to try to get wine grapes to grow.

Any apples on Antonovka.  But all were in pots for the winter.  Don’t know if it was the wind.

Plums on Pr. Americana – some made it through 1 winter- none thru 2 winters

Apricots-1 Wescot made it thru last winter out of 6 grafts that took but was 80% girdled by mice.  Still alive though.

Invicta gooseberries-I always fall for nursery descriptions that include the phrase ‘large tasty berries’.  First Ribes that I have killed.

Trees in pots tipped on their sides just gives the mice more bark to eat.  2 pears, 2 Mt. Ash, several apples.  All debarked.

The obvious lesson is:  Don’t leave plants in pots for the winter.

 

January Meeting

I learned several important things from Corlene and Michael on January 10th.

  1. Keep a journal that tracks when events happen in the orchard. For pests and disease, we might be able to use an ounce of prevention next year by reviewing our journals.
  2. If you see something that seems new to you (or your area), take it to the Coop. Ext. They are a clearing house for information on what populations are up and/or spreading in SouthCentral.
  3. If Bob Boyer’s experience that gooseberries in the wind don’t get currant worms, then I will never have them. I live in the wind.

Also at the January meeting I brought a trinket (15x hand lens) as a doorprize.  The beekeepers club does this.  A member brings a trinket of interest to club members and it becomes the doorprize.  I encourage any members to give me a call if they want to donate a doorprize to a meeting.  Just adds to the meeting.  I thought the hand lens was appropriate this time because it can make a spider mite look like a tarantula. ($8.99 at Radio Shack)