The Trouble with Spring

The trouble with spring is that for every good working weather day there are five days worth of work to do. I don’t think there has ever been a spring when I’ve accomplished all that I felt needed to be done.

In the past week I have properly planted 19 trees, and sloppily planted 2. All the bare root arrivals now have their feet nestled firmly in the ground. Both the main order for this year and 8 replacements wound up being shipped the same week after delays. I hadn’t planned on having them arrive one on top of the other. I also hadn’t planned on having all the able bodied helpers skip out at the same time. Okay, at least 2 of the 4 had legitimate excuses. One had a raging kidney infection and another one’s face was ballooned with poison ivy.

While my shovel and I were knocking ourselves out fighting the clay, rocks, and blasted pine tree roots, the veggie garden was not getting worked; seeds were not getting planted in that garden or the grow tent; weeds and wild blackberries were continuing to grow more rapidly throughout every unweeded bed, and the amount of overall general spring prep work needing to be done was increasing as quickly as weeds can grow in spring.

I do still have trees to plant, but they arrived potted. So, there is not so much pressure to get those in. I also need to do my copper spray, but winds are not cooperating.

On the positive side, I’ve been able to work until exhausted without over heating, and have enjoyed spending my day surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of blooming daffodils and hyacinths. Every now and then I would pause to watch bluebirds resting on the fruit tree limbs. They would appear to be just as intently watching back until suddenly darting to the ground to wrestle a tasty morsel from the grass.

One thing I have not seen this spring are any rabbit droppings.

What are your spring pressures? Do you manage to accomplish all you want or intend?

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I spent 6 hrs of digging and planting 10 Peony trees and 10 pawpaw crossed seedlings of Mango X Shenandoah. My old back and Quad are feeling it. Still haven’t spray copper on stone fruits yet. Maybe tomorrow. I need a couple of Motrin now.

Tony

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It’s usually the weather and I’ve planted a lot of trees.Unsure how the future looks with all of them but,haven’t had to use a chainsaw yet. Brady

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I’m expecting pics of those peony trees when they bloom. I’m sure they’ll be stunning. Did you make your own crosses on the paw paws?

The longest it took me to plant any single tree was 3 hours. There were a lot of bulbs that needed to be removed and transplanted from the area, and there were pine tree roots wider than my wrist. I wasn’t expecting those so far from the tree.

@Bradybb We did wind up sawing down an old plum last spring. It had slowly succumbed to injuries and borers. I planted 3 trees in the area that one used to take up.

Gophers. The arrive about now. I have several tunnels popping up in my walk & pick orchard, so going to have to set a few traps. I will say, our pool, however, makes a fine gopher trap. I’ve fished out 3 dead gophers in a week! Also, this is when we see our “Fungus Among Us” raise its ugly head. All types and sorts of fungal infections appear, as it is our rainy/dewy/foggy weather that coincides with just the right temperature range. Also a pain. Rust, Black Spot, Mildew, phytophthora, etc. all appear now for us.

Patty S.

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  • Masonry walls with subterranean footings, fences on top, and interior patrolled by a capable dog → no gophers.
  • Timely applications of Copper Hydroxide, EDDHA Iron, and year-round supplements of minor+micronutrients → no significant fungus/bacteria problems.
  • Year-round insect IPM including native plants → no significant insect pests but plenty of beneficials including bees.

Many of my friends and customers believe that my obsession with all things green should mean that spring is my favorite season. I respond to this suggestion with an ironic snarl and the words “this is my hell season- I hate spring- I am Spring’s Scrooge!”

I’m a nicer person in winter. In winter I sleep like a baby- which, of course means, I wake up several times in the course of the night, but in winter I usually fall back asleep quickly.

Well all of that’s over, and the surges of adrenalin are beginning to course through my veins, my stomach clenches and I wonder how on earth I will make it through another hell season.

When harvests are good, my favorite seasons are late summer into fall, but winter is the most peaceful season of all.

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Right now ground moles are the scourge of my existence. They are incredibly bad at my new home. I bought the home in august and maybe they were in the woods because I didn’t notice a whole lot of action but over the winter and beginning this spring parts of my yard look like it’s been bombed. I have Sweeney plunger traps, Victor out-of-site traps, and the good old black bucket with peanut butter going on as we speak. I guess it’s a good sign that I have a lot of worms in my soil however the moles don’t care whats in their path. They have tunneled into my trees and I don’t want them around the roots. Not only will they create air voids but voles can use those tunnels to access the roots. I’ve not seen any voles or signs of them but I’m sure they are there.

By the way, I killed 5 times more moles with a black 5 gallon bucket and peanut butter mousetrap than I do the victor and sweeney traps.

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Tony, I see that you plant peony trees. Are they young trees or mature trees? Do you have lot of experience dealing with them?

I have two tree peony in ground for about 15 years. One is only about 1/2 size of another, I am wondering if I can move it to a sunnier spot.

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Muddy,

I usually hand pollinated the Mango pawpaw to the Shenandoah, and the rest of the pawpaws. I planted 20 Shenandoah seeds last Spring and Kept the ten strongest seedlings to grow out. This Spring, I am going to cross the Halvin (Aka Gardenweb:“Treebird” a real large and tasty wild pawpaw that Treebird found in Iowa. I swapped this Halvin scion with him several years back) to the Mango, Shenandoah, Susquehanna, and my own wild pawpaw finding in Nebraska which I called Pawmoya (taste a little bit like a Cherimoya). I will try to get all the good pawpaw genes into One super pawpaw.

Tony

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For me this is the best time of the year. My small orchard is mostly planted and all but a few of my winter grafts have been added. I’m like an excited kid going out to check to see if the grafting buds are growing. While I’m there I carefully look around trying to determine if this is the spring that I have fruit buds where none have been before.

Muddy. Last year I had this tiny rabbit around my fruit trees and over the summer it became less scared of me to the point of letting me work around 10’ feet of it. I did not see it much over the winter and to my surprise it showed up again and is still unafraid of me. I now have a new orchard friend named Bug’s. Yes I know I should get rid of it ASAP. Bill

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Sara,

This is my first time planting tree peonies. I planted them in front of my house (West) with plenty of sun. I think more sun will benefit them. If your tree peonies still dormant then you should have no problem moving them. BTW, Tom from IL grown them. You can PM him for more infos.

Tony

Mango x Shenandoah could be a great cross, please report when you have fruit.

I had peonies at my former house and while gorgeous for a week or so they were an eyesore afterwards.

Speedster, I’m familiar with this trap for mice. How do you modify it to catch moles? I’ve caught 7 moles in the last 2 weeks with a scissors-type underground trap and have caught mice before but I thought (1) moles don’t come above ground, and, (2) moles are not attracted to peanut butter.
Please tell all, spare none on mole traps.

Bill, I think rabbits might not go after fruit tree bark as badly in the southeast. After all, Nature keeps a buffet of dandelions, clovers, and other tasty tender morsels growing for them all winter long. :smile: :rabbit2:

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As far as spring is concerned, I love it because I prepare for it all winter. I just bundle up, go out and do everything I can think of to prep - clear brush/unwanted trees & limbs, dig holes for new trees and prep them w/remediants, apply lots of mulch, set up trellises, prune, etc. For me, when the planting time comes I want to enjoy it, :slightly_smiling:

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We work throughout winter, too, but that’s on and off. I prefer to get tree and large limb removal done in January and early February, during that time when the leaves have finally fallen and have not yet started growing back. This year the trees in our wooded areas started to show life at the end of December. :smile: I’m like the honeybees; if it’s under 55 degrees and cloudy, I’m working inside. If it’s windy, forget it. It’s too risky. We do usually have many nice days in the 60’s to 80 during winter. I take as much advantage of them as I can, but daylight doesn’t last as long.

There’s plenty of rush indoor work as holidays approach, but for me, outdoor preps in the winter seldom have that urgent feeling to them. I’m just happy with each thing that gets accomplished then, because it’s a bit less to do in the spring.

Mild spring weather can be short lived here. Summer soon declares victory over winter, and becomes an oppressive ruler. Then I am nearly useless until autumn brings relief. That brings a new round of frenzied outdoor work.

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Anne, it’s really quite simple but very effective. My brother in law killed 34 moles on his 2 acre lot last fall.

You’ll need a black 5 gallon bucket along with some standard sized mouse traps. I prefer the Victor traps with copper release over the tomcat traps with the yellow plastic releases. Next you’ll need to either find the mole tunnel or a mound of dirt from a mole excavation. For a tunnel remove a portion of the tunnel about 4 inches long so that the mole travels above the ground as it runs by. The key is to have the black bucket turned upside down covering the excavation. The reason black is necessary is that it does not allow light in and the mole still thinks it is underground. I like to place a brick or cinder block on top of the bucket to keep it firmly planted on the ground and avoid light penatrating at the base. You can simply position the mouse trap right next to the excavation or if you excavate enough you can place the mousetrap in the tunnel. Even though moles like to eat worms and grubs I think peanut butter has enough protein in it to make the mole stop and check it out.

Check the trap several times a day. I’ve killed 4 moles on the same run in a single day. If you don’t kill one or see any action after a day the mole has probably abandoned the tunnel. Last year I had 4 buckets out at one time. They were buckets left over from sealing my asphalt driveway.

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I bought some mixed Pawpaw seeds. I’m going to plant them in tubes in a box and grow them for a year before putting them out.