NOW IS THE TIME
By Eunice Messner

RIPENING KIWI

Here is a response Roger Meyer made to a northern grower on ripening kiwi.

"You can leave the fruit on the vine until the temperature drops to about 28-29 degrees F. At that point they will freeze and be ruined. Check the seeds of the fruit and see if they are now black. If so, that is sufficient for them to ripen. I presume that you do not have a refractometer to check the sugar level - if available, it should read at least 6 to ripen.

When you pick the fruit, leave them off the vine a day or two to be entirely dry. Then put them into plastic bags and seal tightly. Store in the refrigerator for one or two weeks. For ripening, put into a ripening bowl or a plastic bag with an apple or banana. They should give to pressure when ready to eat.

A short time in the refrigerator does seem to help with the ripening. Leaving the fruit out on the counter without the refrigeration phase may result in a dehydrated fruit."

(Eunice: "When I buy Roger's fruit in a box, I put it in the refrigerator. It will keep there indefinitely, so I can buy two or more and they don't spoil.)

SPRAY TIME

I checked the buds on my "Tropical Snow" white peach and they are beginning to show color. So don't delay with your dormant spray regime. Use a light weight horticultural oil and lime sulfur. Spray a second time before it reaches the pink bud stage.

BARE ROOT PLANTING TIME

Selecting fruit trees for future harvest is such a stimulating and anticipatory adventure. Wish I had it to do over again! I would shun the packaged trees, if possible, and go to a nursery that keeps them in sawdust so I could inspect the roots.* These are not so severely root-pruned. I would not care about the branching structure, unless the tree was to be espaliered. Why? Unless you're commercial you won't be driving a tractor under the trees, so why not have them branch low from the ground and get an open and multi-trunk tree that will be easier to pick from.

Cut the tree off at knee high and you can soon choose from a nice selection of new branches. (Do this at the nursery and they'll fit easier into your car.)

Also, all of us initially make mistakes in selecting plants best suited for our area. A member in your locality would be delighted to tell you what grows best for them. I called the pomology department at Cal Poly, Pomona to ask if cherries grew here (mistake, much colder over there). They said sure. So I spent money, space and years of growing time for three supposedly low-chill cherries. Sure, I got handfuls of pie cherries, but not worth the effort.

*Laguna Hills Nursery in El Toro or Batavia Nursery in Orange. They also sell my favorite "Wilson" propagated trees.