Now is the Time
By Eunice Messner

BLACK THUMB?
Last month I said I was going to start thinning 'Desert Delight' nectarine. Sorrowfully, there was only shriveled blossoms and dying leaves. It appears to also be happening to some limbs of my 'Mid Pride' and 'August Pride' peach. All blossomed well and were bee pollinated. I usually thin very early. The blossom
petals may still be on but if the ovary has a protruding white tip, I know that flower has been pollinated and I can go ahead and thin.

MYSTERY CLUES My first thought was maybe the soil line was changed as squirrels who have a runway under a concrete apron a foot above the trees were always pushing out dirt. But, now that it is occurring on 'August Pride' above the apron - that is not the cause.

This is the first year I used a lime sulfur spray that included copper. Copper poisoning? Did I goof on the measurements? I don't think so. 'Tropic Snow' and the beautiful, double-flowering 'Saturn' peach were
sprayed with the same solution and are doing fine.

One other thing. I have been using grass clippings from a gardener for mulch and composting. There was a recent article in the "Register" about herbicides being used on grass that even though the grass was composted there were residuals that would kill vegetables. This is serious. It could put all of the recycling companies out of business. And, we know how hard it is to put a ban on chemicals. So, this is another possible clue. Does anyone have any suggestions? Twigs on the tree are dead so it looks like I'll be removing the tree. Can't replant peach or nectarine in the same hole unless I wait about 5 years or remove about 4 sq. ft. of soil and replace with new soil. In the meantime, this sure messes up my succession planting of available fruit.

Another concern is my strawberry bed. Only a berry or two and the leaves lie almost prostrate. Could be lack of water but it could also be the alkaline worm meal. I used it instead of EZ Green, which is acidic. Strawberries love chicken compost but I am all out of it.

THAT'S NOT ALL! Rats have consumed all the 'Dancy' tangerines and are now working on the oranges and avocados. I went to O.C. Farm Supply and bought a bucket of "Fast Trax" for $59.09. It is the only product I know of that doesn't have a secondary effect. I sure don't want to kill off the local red-tailed hawks and owls. You can buy plastic bait containers, but I had some 4" x 30" black plastic pipe so I laid it on the ground and placed the bait in the middle - out of reach from other animals. The bait is disappearing. This bait is effective against the anticoagulant-resistant rats and mice. It contains "Bromethalin". Avocados are an antidote for "Ramik" an anticoagulant poison. So, "Ramik" will only work on ground squirrels who usually don't eat avocados.