Alaska Pioneer Fruit Growers Association

The Editor’s Garden

June 23, 2003
By Tami Schlies

Greetings from the Editor’s Garden!  Our heat wave this summer has been great to many of my plants, and I wish I’d planted more beans and corn.  As they say, it is either a bean year or a lean year, and this is definitely a bean year!  My potatoes are suffering from what I believe is a virus of some sort, since it does not fit any other description.  I purchased seed potatoes from Burgess and should have know better than to plant them based on how they looked when I received them.  I got a very small yield, but the plants are already completely dead.  I am most excited to see how my jicama plant produces (maybe you’ll see it at the fair) and my Jerusalem artichokes, both new attempts at growing this year.

On to fruits – I have found MANY rusty tussock moths larva munching my apple trees this summer.  These are fuzzy caterpillars with plumes of black hairs both front and rear, numerous orange-red spots on the body, and four clumps of buff hair on the mid back.  These are supposed to be controllable by hand picking, or possibly with Bt.  Hopefully we will have a normal winter this year and keep the populations down.

The winter also had a negative effect on several of my rootstocks.  I lost every Malus prunifolia, and a few of my trees on both ranetka and bacatta have languished as the summer progressed.  Two out of three died slowly, and I still can’t tell if the one that is left will survive.  All my Evans cherries, my opal plums, and my several Manchurian plums survived the winter well.  I lost all but 6 of my Ozark Beauty strawberries (out of 50 or so), but my inheritance of unknown variety, over the fence strawberries are healthy and well.  The ‘Strazzberries’ I ordered from Burgess produced this year, but I will be removing them, as they are of less than mediocre flavor (nothing at all like a strawberry / raspberry cross).

I was very impressed with the overall quality of plants I received from Northwoods Nursery, and would like to order again this year, if anyone else is interested.  The only difficulty I had was with the Scarlet Surprise apple, which failed to take off until I cut it way back and moved the pots to the greenhouse.  I have 18 or so inches of growth on them now.  Everything else was wonderful, flowering and even fruiting this first year, though many were in pots far too small and neglected for much of the summer.  (All right, all right, some are STILL neglected, but I will get around to them)