NOW IS THE TIME
BY EUNICE MESSNER


COLUMNAR TREES
Is anyone growing a columnar apple or pear tree? I read of someone grafting a scion of a regular tree onto one . The grafted scion assumed the same short, spur branching habit of the columnar tree. It doesnšt sound probable, but I hope one of you will experiment and confirm this.

PROBLEMS
The army of rats living off my labor have determined that cherimoya are a lot more gourmet than oranges. And the gophers are enjoying "Hearts of Bananas". They eat the roots and the core of the base until it finally falls over. I finally caught that critter with the "Black Hole" trap.

Remember my sad story about losing four mature fruit trees because I mulched them with grass clippings laced with clopyralid? Well, that's not the end of the story. I used some of the grass to make compost, then used the compost as the base for my worm bin. Consequently, when I mixed up a planting mix with the worm castings for 200 pepper seedlings to grow for Green Scene - they all died. Shed a tear for me. I have about $100 worth of castings I can
no longer use for vegetable seedlings.

THINNING FRUIT
Why does a favorite fruit, like peaches, have to be the most work! Thinning is a tedious, but necessary chore. If you are a new grower, here are some hints: First of all, you can save yourself a lot of thinning time by vigorously pruning off at least 2/3 of new growth in the summer after your tree has fruited. Then the next spring there will be less thinning to do.

Even before the flowers petals have dropped off one can see the pollinized, protruding white, fuzzy tip of the new fruit. The earlier you thin, the better your crop. Don't select those that have double tips. Thin to only one fruit on a twig. On very sturdy branches you may let two fruit develop. I opt to leave a fruit growing on the upper side of the branch, thinking it may not drop from the tree as easily.

AGRICULTURAL BATTLE
In March 2004, Mendocino County voters banned the production of Genetically Engineered crops and animals. This ban has rattled Monsanto and the Gene Giants who fear that global civil society will now follow Mendocinos
example. Of course, that is exactly what is happening. A number of agricultural states in Australia, Tasmania and Victoria have passed or will soon pass G.E. crop bans. The biotech lobby will soon introduce a bill in California to nullify the Mendocino G.E. ban and make it illegal for other CA counties to pass similar laws. The World Trade Organization and the White House have also made it clear in the past that local citizen control over unpopular technologies, such as G.E. will not be tolerated. The Organic Consumers Assoc. has launched a major campaign called the Biodemocracy Alliance to defeat this legislation so to spread G.E. Free Zones across at least a dozen of Californiašs 59 counties, as well as all over the U.S. The OCA could use all donations if you are so inclined to finance this effort.

Send to: 6101 Cliff Estate Road, Little Marais, MN 55614
or pay on line via
www.organic consumers.org