It is always confusing to say that March 20th is the first day of spring when March 21st gets a lot of press under that same title but of course the difference is that March 21st is the first FULL day of spring. We are so desperate for Spring to arrive around here that we welcomed today and the mild spring weather that went along with it. Despite the light frost that covered the ground early this morning, we had a sunny, breezy, 70 degree day which was perfect for our outdoor activities. Our hawks have been watching all the activity as well. Here is a young one, getting the lay of the land.
We’ve been watching carefully for a day just like this one to spray the orchard with a dormant oil mixture. They say if you are only going to spray your orchard with one item, this would be the most important one to apply since it suppresses insect infestation by smothering the overwintering adult insects and the eggs they’ve laid. It is considered a natural product which is why we use it and although applying it doesn’t insure we won’t have insects, we should be ahead of the game when it comes to controlling red mites and scale. The reason it is called dormant oil is because you spray it when the trees are still in a dormant stage, meaning the buds have not burst out with visible new growth. The timing is tricky because you also need to apply it when it won’t rain or freeze for 24 hours after spraying but if done too late, it will kill the new growth. So despite the light breeze, today was the chosen day to spray. I had a bit of the oil leftover from last year’s spraying but needed more and had some difficulty finding it locally at first.
Its not hard to mix up a sprayer full and get started. The worst part about this today was the blow back in my face as I circled the tree with my spray canister. It didn’t take long to figure out that jabbering to Dave while on the east side of the tree was a mistake; a mouthful of the oily mess was a quick lesson but the need to spray on that side was still necessary so I managed to shield my face while still watching where the spray was going. Not unlike the day of pruning, this is a once a year chore that is fun because it is finished in short order but has a big impact on the success of the orchard.
The other feature of the farm that will soon have great impact for the orchard is the coming of the bee hives. J&H, our bee mentors, dropped off materials to build a nice, large hive stand last week and they came over late Saturday afternoon to put it in place. It could hold 5 hives, but we will most likely be starting out with 3 this year. J is doing a split on some of his hives to accommodate these new ones so we will see how many are actually going to arrive after he does the split. Here is the stand, (installed on the south side – just inside the fence line), ready and waiting for the hives. More on the bees and hive placement details after they arrive!
Since the last post when the new fencing went up, we worked hard on getting the deer fencing in place and the wire installed. We broke this into several days worth of chores since the weather was chilly and the hands need to be bare to work with the wire.
Dave was able to continue to remove the old steel fence posts. This time there were eleven posts to remove, some harder to get out than others so the tractor became an important aid in the process. We wanted to get this finished before the bees arrive since they probably wouldn’t take kindly to their new digs if we were making a commotion while they were trying to settle in.
These efforts produced another pile of posts and old, rotting rail road ties.Which Dave has been cutting up into reasonable sizes…In order to haul them away in the truck to the recycling center. The last truck load was between 1,000 – 2,000 lbs of concrete which was pulled from the fence post holes and dropped at a construction dumping spot. These were good winter chores that make us feel as if we are making progress with the land.
We have also been working in the front around the area of the new trident maples. Our arborist, Jon, is helping us to reset the mowing stones which were completely buried beneath the overgrowth of the old tree beds and are now nicely exposed and re-aligned. Boy, what an improvement! Can you spot the new tree guards? Lets hope they keep the deer from scratching away at the trunks!
We are also getting his help with forming new beds with stone edging behind the terrace wall in back. As soon as the weather allows, these beds will be planted with a couple of layers of green matter with crepe myrtles being the main component.
Finally, a shout out to our daughter, Kate, who celebrated her 30th birthday yesterday! She and Jason celebrated with cousins Sarah and Henry over a cozy dinner that Kate cooked for all. Happy Birthday to the bride to be!