« Continue Browsing

e-mail article Print     e-mail article E-mail

Don Kinzler, Published January 24 2014

Fielding questions

Q I’ve grafted seven apple varieties onto one tree. The tree now has honeygold, honeycrisp, Haralred, pink crab, red crab, Braeburn and sweet sixteen.

Some of my apple trees have blossomed a second time in the fall and then put out small fruits. How common is this?

– Butch Fangsrud, Moorhead

A Grafting is fun, especially when you see your grafts “take.” It sounds like you’ve got the procedure down to a fine art.

Fruit trees blooming in fall are rare, but it does happen occasionally. This phenomenon generally follows a stress period, such as damage from insects or disease, or environmental factors such as drought.

Flower buds are formed during summer for next spring’s bloom. If stress triggers these buds to open in the fall, they will be “spent” and won’t bloom next spring. But hopefully there will be unopened flower buds that will bloom during the normal spring season. Spring bloom might be decreased or absent from the branches that flowered in autumn.

Hopefully the tree will overcome the stress that caused the situation and get back into its normal growth cycle.

Q Would large laundry baskets (with a paver/rock) on top of small shrubs work to protect from rabbit damage? Could rabbits chew through plastic? What’s your experience with pepper spray to deter rabbit damage?

– Sherry Zueger, Moorhead

A I’m not sure if it’s just our situation, but our yard is being overrun by rabbits this winter. Maybe they realize we are residing in an apartment while our house is made livable post-fire, and I’m not hovering with slingshot in hand.

It’s wise for all of us to check our shrubbery to monitor damage. I’m not worried about deciduous shrubs, because they can grow back nicely from the base following pruning by rabbits. But evergreens, particularly arborvitae, can be permanently ruined as rabbits defoliate lower branches or gnaw branches inside the shrub.

I’ve never had much success with repellents. Most usually work in certain circumstances for a limited time length. Other gardeners have experienced success.

My best results have been with low wire fencing or chicken wire circled around rabbit-prone shrubs. The fencing usually needs to be raised as snow depth increases.

I like your plastic basket idea for small shrubs, and unless someone has other experience, I don’t think rabbits will chew through plastic.

If you have a gardening or lawn care question, email Don Kinzler at ForumGrowingTogether@hotmail.com. Questions with broad appeal may be published, so please include your name, city, and state for appropriate advice.