Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Peach in Winter: Leaf Curl Prevention

This year's experiment with leaf curl prevention was so wildly successful, I didn't want to miss the opportunity to repeat it. So last weekend I did. Even if I don't get into the garden again for a month, I've done the most productive task.

I did the following:

1. Strip off remaining leaves. That's easy and fairly quick on these genetic dwarf peach varieties. They are compact, and the leaves come off easily. I strip off the leaves so that all of the spray goes on the stems, and so that they don't interfere with bundling the branches.

2. Rake up all debris, leaves, and weeds, under the trees.

3. Spray with copper spray. Copper is considered "organic" because it's a mineral. The concern is to over-do it, and have too much copper in the soil. So I was careful not to over-do it.

4. Bundle the branches into compact packages that would be easy to cover with white plastic garbage bags. I chose white plastic because it is somewhat reflective, to keep the branches from overheating.

5. Cover the bundled branches with the plastic bags.

6. Tie the bags into place.

7. Prune off any little branches that did not fit into this scheme.

My worries last year were that this process would damage the trees. It did not - this year I had the best peach crop ever, with only about 10 leaves impacted by leaf curl disease. Click on the labels to see the devastating effects of that infection. It's the reason people keep telling me "you can't grow peaches here"

I also sprayed the Moorman apricot and the potted dwarf apricot, that I will move into better shelter soon. I don't know if that will help - apricots tend to die quickly here, and I have not figured out why, yet.

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