April 25. Temps are supposed to hit near 80 today -- the first time this year we've seen such weather. I have a whole day of nothing ahead of me, which translates into a whole day of poking around the yard -- if that's what I feel like doing. And somehow, I think what I feel like doing may involve pansies.
So what's happening out back? I sprayed my apple tree yesterday with horticultural oil with the intent of killing off any scale on the tree (see above). I didn't really find scale on the apple tree, but I did find some (I think) on it's pollinator, a crab apple tree. I've lived on our homestead for nearly six years and have never sprayed the gnarly old Cortland tree. But neither have I eaten a nice apple from it. So this year, I got off my "organic apple" horse with the intent of enjoying the tree's fruits. It's just one of those things that needs a little help, I guess. From what I've heard at the greenhouse, no apple grower worth his/her salt can grow an edible apple in Vermont without some level of spraying.
So yesterday, on went the dormant oil -- to be applied before the buds pop. I thought I would be overcome by the fumes and toxicity of it, of course, so I armed myself with long clothes, sunglasses, and a bandanna around my mouth. But the spray didn't smell or kill me. It's just an oil, after all. Think of spray-on sunscreen.
The next application -- of a more organic pesticide (pyrethrum) that I think is derived from chrysanthemums -- gets sprayed on the day the tree drops its blossoms. I've heard that you can apply this spray every month or so, but I'm not sure I'm going to take it that far yet. Baby steps for me and this spraying business.
In other news: The garlic is about six inches high. The asparagus hasn't poked up yet. New shoots on my three roses. I wasn't able to save but two pepper plants from the Attack of the Family. And a few tomatoes have re-sprouted. I'm definitely going to be visiting a greenhouse for plants this year.
Question of the Day: To mulch or not to mulch yet? Is the ground warm enough? I read an advice column this morning that suggested you need to give the ground enough time to really thaw out before you mulch, or the mulch will insulate the cold. So I'm going to wait a few weeks. I still have plenty of beds to clean out anyway.
Question of the Day #2: When should I plant potatoes? I've acquired the seed potatoes and split them up. They're staying warm in the greenhouse, but I'm not sure when they should go in the ground. I've heard when the soil hits 50 degrees. How do you test that? A meat thermometer in the ground?
Funny how I've been experimenting in a garden for more than half my life, and I still have a ton of questions about it all. Maybe that's part of the appeal of it all. It's never boring and always challenging.
With that, out with this blog today and in with some warm and windy sunshine...