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Grafting onto native fruit trees
Lettuce is perhaps one of the most popular plants in the vegetable garden. And rightly so. The low-growing annual is great for growing up between rows of vegetables and other plants. It does quite well in the home vegetable garden too. Plant your lettuce in a slightly shaded area and water often. You’ll find it not only grows well in summer but also in cooler months.
Lettuce is readily available in seed form or you can buy transplants. Before you put the seeds in the soil, though, we strongly recommend you treat them. Soak the seeds in water and add one teaspoon of bleach per five cups of water. Rinse seeds thoroughly before planting. Be sure to plant the seeds several inches deep. Lettuce will tolerate some drought conditions but will spindly if it is really dry. Mulching with grass clippings or other organic material will also help to retain moisture.
Granny Smith apples are a favorite in the orchard and in the home kitchen as well. As kids, my siblings and I were always looking for apples to eat before they were rotten. I’ll never forget the trees in my father’s orchard, even after all these years, because they were so large and beautiful.
Apple trees, like most fruit trees, are not self-pollinating, so you need two to ensure your apples grow properly. And while it might not seem obvious, you need to ensure that you don’t plant an apple tree right next to another apple tree!
Apple trees should be grown from a seed that has been certified as being free of disease and pest-resistant. Good germination is possible if you plant in late fall. Apple trees are slow growers, taking six years or more to bear fruit.So in the spring of the year your tree is planted, leave it alone and allow it to grow. If you don’t, your apple trees will be trampled.
Grafted fruit trees also take several years to bear fruit. Those that are not grafted should be planted about four to six feet apart, in groups of two or three. If you plant a single tree, the fruit tree will need a good 25 feet or more of growing space. In the South, the blossoming season can begin as early as March and go as late as June or July. You may be surprised to learn that apples begin their season as early as March and continue through August.
Harvesting apples is not the easiest thing to do. You want to pluck the apples from the tree as they mature, but if you reach too far up the tree to grab an apple, you risk damaging the tree, knocking loose all your other apples or perhaps even the entire tree. The easiest way is to use a strung apple tree basket.
We’ve found that a baseball bat is a very handy tool for lifting the apples and placing them in the basket. It’s much easier to swing the bat into the trunk than trying to reach the fruit with your hands. You should only reach a couple of feet up the trunk. Once you have reached the fruit, grab it and swing the bat upward into the air. As the apples reach their peak, you may need to wiggle the bat downward to shake them free.
While it is much easier to pick apples from the ground than to climb the tree, it is important to harvest apples at the correct stage of ripeness. Don’t wait until your apples are mushy. We’ve found that overripe apples are very difficult to remove from the tree because they will resist your attempts to wiggle them loose.
Harvesting apples is certainly a labor-