What is your Tip OF The Day?


Oh around this area they’re common. I probably got the last ones at the local hardware. Some of us still do hang clothes out! Well, not yet - we still have snow. But soon and i love hanging clothes outside. Like trees I guess, it depends on your location. Sue


I often see folks here talking about having low/wet spots on their property or low quality dirt. Or perhaps you’d just like to build some tree mounds or planting boxes but can’t/don’t want to spend a fortune on dirt. You might want to go to your local city hall and speak to the director of the water, gas, and public work’s department. You would be surprised how often city governments (and perhaps state DOT’s) have projects with lots of left-over top soil that they just need a place to put. They aren’t going to haul it across town for you, but if you tell the department head’s where you live and that you would really like to get some good top soil the next time they have some in your area, there is a pretty good likelihood that you will end up with some really nice free soil. You might have to accept some broken concrete or old pipes with it, but you can pull that stuff out pretty easy. You also will have to spread and relocate it yourself, but if you only get 1-2 loads you can do that with a wheel barrow and shovel.

As a City Manager, I’ve given away probably 25 loads of dirt in the last year (and we are a small town), and a lot of it has gone to people just like you all who just asked for it. One good source is when cities clean out ditches that have filled in over time. The is usually the highest quality top soil since it is mostly black, rich silt that has settled into ditch bottoms over time. It won’t have anything but high quality, rich dirt. Another source is when a city extends water, sewer, and gas lines to a new area. You see, not only does dirt “fluff up” so that it takes less to fill a hole back in than what came out (of course over time it settles but they won’t leave all the extra dirt needed for that). Also, they almost always back fill with some percentage of gravel, and if it is under a street they will use all gravel, leaving all the dirt left over. There are also building sites and other projects that produce dirt. It is true that sometimes it will be low quality “fill” dirt, but most often it will be good top soil. They have to take it somewhere, and they are usually very happy to have a place near the job site to dump it. Saves time, fuel, etc. Some cities have big dump areas they are trying to fill in and require all dirt go there, but most will give a load or two to people in the area. Just make sure you ask BEFORE you see a construction crew in your area. Its too late then. By then they have already formed a plan for where it will go, and/or someone else has already asked for it. There is always a chance that if you take coffee and donuts to the crew they will still give you a load or two, and it is certainly worth trying that, too.

Anyway, we gave a local farmer 3 really nice dump truck loads of super nice dirt today simply because he had told me he’d like some next time we had some in his area. So that got me thinking maybe some of you never thought about this, or figured the city sold it all or usd it else where or whatever. Sometimes that is true, but I’ve worked for 7 different city governments and 6 of them gave free dirt to people who asked for it. SO you might give it a try. Like most things, it is free to ask and the worst they can do is say no. Good luck.


The kind with the spring?
I get those at the grocery


That would be nice but in my town the city has a a wareyard where they have stockpiles of topsoil, tree mulch/cuttings, and gravel. If they have leftover material it goes into the stockpiles and is used by the city for other projects or when the need arise. It’s generally clay-based soil here so topsoil is somewhat of a commodity. It’s easier to find tree mulch than it is top soil for giveaway here. Most sellers of topsoil around here charge about $30 / scoop from a skid-steer bucket. Which is probably only 1/2 yard. IT’s cheaper to buy it by the tri-axle.


That’s too bad, but not unheard of. I mentioned that 6 of the 7 cities I’ve worked for gave away top soil at least part of the time. The one that didn’t had a large piece of land that was basically a 2 acre hole in the ground (a low place between 2 hills. For many, many years they told all departments to take any and all fill material there to dump it so they could make that property level. It always pained me to see them dump loads of beautiful, rich, black topsoil in the same hole with big chunks of concrete and other construction trash, then cover it all up with more of the same. It also seemed wasteful because- just as you mentioned, they could have sold those dump truck loads of top soil for a lot of money. Oh well…governments aren’t exactly known for making wise financial decisions-if I do say so myself. ha BTW, a 25 ton dump truck full of top soil around here sells for about $300. Is that comparable to your area?


Hey, & (Ampersand) . . . I have found that if I keep enough ‘irons in the fire’ - maintaining an attitude of patience is much easier. It becomes so difficult when there is only one pot boiling at a time. Your tip is always a welcome reminder, tho.


Auburn and Mamuang . . . I love frozen grapes, too! Such a great substitute for Haagen Daaz!


About the clothes pins to mark pruning . . . I love this idea. I’ve had them snap - and break, tho. Does that happen to yours?
I like the plan of marking your ‘thoughts’ on pruning, as the season progresses. Sometimes I have to repeat that long, involved process over and over - and would rather just be able to ‘get to it’ when I have my pruners in my hand!
I think I will try some of that vinyl tape, instead. Not sticky - but the kind I’ll have to tie. Thanks.


The clothespins. Didn’t someone mention using them as branch spreaders?


A great article about Fruit Tree Pruning - and the actual science explaining ‘why’ and ‘how’. What each type of cut actually does to a tree - and why it stimulates it to grow in a different way, etc.
I’ll have to read and re-read it many times for it to ‘stick’ . . . but I think it is so informative.


Apple trees have "four general growth and flowering habits’

I was excited when the article mentioned this, but they failed to elaborate and fell back on the simplistic explanation- dividing only twice into spur- type varieties and the rest. I searched for a more thorough explanation because I’ve never heard of a clean 4 type organization, and google apparently hasn’t either. I manage many varieties that bear most consistently and best fruit on the second year wood of 2 year shoots. With such varieties you thin one year shoots to what’s needed to carry the crop the next year and leave most of the 2 year shoots that are loaded with flower buds at their bases (the 2 year wood).

After setting fruit, the 2 year shoots are removed the next winter.

I realize this is confusing to someone starting out, but don’t worry, it won’t be important knowledge until trees start fruiting and if you are observant you will probably notice what I’m talking about. My heads up may make it more noticeable. The worst mistake is to cut off all upright one-year growth, although you can still get fruit from varieties that already have a lot of old spur wood on them, but your cropping may be biennial and fruit smaller than it could be.


This is a great tip and one that I’m attempting to learn.


Just bought a pack at a local Dollar store. I’m finding more uses for them each year.


Does your pear tree grow like a run away train when all the fruit is lost from inclement early weather? Grafting in a few additional varieties that bloom later can improve your odds of not being fruitless. Last year my early bloomers carried the day but this time the later ones are the most fruitful. If you add both together my one standard pear tree is under utilized. Then along comes all the later blooming apples that I grafted in and looks like the tree will have a good load of fruit. This tree is much better behaved when it is carrying a load.


It’s funny but I’ve found the same thing with peaches over the years. Small fruit is not supposed to be less vulnerable than flowers (as I recall the lit), but I’ve had years when only early bloomers got fruit and later were burned by frost.

Here, if I want pears every year the trick for me has been to grow Harrow Sweet. Never failed yet- although a lot of last year’s were not of good quality. A lot of fruit was off for many varieties and species last year.


My tip of the day is to never purchase a black light. I thought my house was clean until I walked around with a new black light I purchase for hardening UV Resin. Quite frankly it’s bit startling.


So here is a handy idea . I use 3 gallon sprayers a lot . The hand pump type . Age convinced to get creative . I bought tire valves the type with a threaded nut . Drilled a 7/8 hole and installed the valve . So now I just air it up to spray . I watch the stream of spray while airing as you could blow it up I think . Anyway once I have a strong spray that is enough . I use about half then give it more air . Got tired of all that pumping from half empty on .


Never heard of that method. Great tip


Some photos of the sprayer upgrade .


What ever you do, Dave, DO NOT take that light on your next overnight stay in a hotel room! You’ll never stay in a hotel again, and you won’t want to know what the stain it is making those areas glow!! haha