NOW IS THE TIME

Eunice Messner

YEAR OF THE AVOCADO

The Fair Designating this as the 'Year of the Avocado' has been most appropriate, as the weather conditions this winter and spring have resulted in a super abundant crop. So keep the trees well watered and mulched so they will 'hang in there'. Now, if I can just keep the rat population down so they wonšt get more than their share of the crop.

You all probably know that avocado is the antidote for most rat poisons so trapping is the best way to go. However, the rat poison 'Fastrac' (available at Orange Co. Farm Supply) does not allow avocado to work as an antidote. It also does not have a secondary effect and will not harm owls or hawks that might eat a rat poisoned with 'Fastrac'. If I didnšt have two cats, I would adopt a rat terrier to alleviate the problem.

Another irritant is the ground squirrels. They consume just about every edible on my property except peppers. I've had so many other issues to handle that I have not been faithful in setting my 'Have a Hart' traps. And I also have run out of the donated 'Blue Oatmeal' bait that is available only to commercial farmers.

TRIPLE CROWN BLACKBERRY

I was amazed that this blackberry survived my especially hot slope. Some members have said it needed more chill. The downside is, even though I planted in a new location, the red berry mite again ruined the berries. Išll try again next spring to spray in the early formation stage. I persist, as I well remember, the superior flavor and size that makes this berry stand above all others.

HARD TO FIND

I never did find the ten percent vinegar used for canning, that I previously wrote was excellent for killing tough older weeds. The regular five percent vinegar, sold in grocery stores, does work on new emerging weeds. I did find on the internet a twenty percent acetic acid with yucca added as a surfactant. Go to <www.bradfieldind.com> to get it. One should wear gloves and eye protection when using this high strength vinegar.

ANTS

On the good side: Ants mix and aerate more soil than earthworms. They scavenge both live and dead insects and other creatures; pollinate certain flowers and spread the seeds of many plants. They also attack termites so perhaps one should not be too gung-ho in destroying them along foundations. Ants have been around for more than 20 million years, so it looks like we'll just have to put up with them. At least I have been able to keep them out of my kitchen, until now, with just a line of 'Chinese White Chalk'. But it seems they have become immune to the arsenic in the chalk!

FRUIT SET

I hope you all have better sets of fruit on your trees than I do. There is a poor set on my 'Fuyu' and 'Hachiya' persimmons, macadamia and all of my mangos except 'Glenn'. Probably too heavy a set on the 'Fuyu' last year and my faithful 'Thomson' mango resented the heavy pruning I gave it. So, I'll at least let those trees off the hook for valid reasons.