I like work that pays off – gardening pays off as you get more experience. Today I notice the work I did over the last couple of months has turned into something.
The thing you have to know about artichokes is, they come all at once. You just better get ready to eat them, unless you know some way to preserve them – if so, please clue me in. I don’t mind eating them every day until they’re gone. They’re not as big as the store-bought variety, but being very drought hardy, they cost very little to produce. So, you can have one all to yourself, and not feel guilty about it.
Strawberries are also one of my better pay-offs. They require water almost every day, but not alot. Putting them in containers, raised off the ground, has really helped to keep the pests off, but the ones I was not able to get out of the ground aren’t doing too bad either. I keep the pots and the bed around them clean, and I’ve put down rock to make that easier. In the pots I use a mix of perlite and peat moss – WalMart had a screaming deal on peat moss but I notice the other day they are plum out.
My husband has always wanted fruit trees. As soon as we bought our first home he planted fruit trees, but knowing nothing about them (except, pick and eat!), we’ve struggled. Some have died without ever producing, some have produced like crazy (cherries), and others have eventually begun to put out a steady little crop. Our peaches and apples have taken a while, but we’ve finally started to get good returns.
Peaches demand steady water and a clean bed, timely thinning, and pruning, and they will produce more than you can eat. That’s the problem with peaches – keeping them picked and eaten!
The biggest problem with the apples has been bugs – flies and moths that lay their eggs when the apples are forming, their larvae hatching out and destroying the apples from the inside. We’ve studied up on these bugs, learned their simple life cycle, and over the years, we’ve begun to get an edge. At first they just ate everything, we’d pitch every green apple in the trash. But now, with steady pressure on the bugs, at various stages in their life cycle, we’re starting to get an upper hand on the little bastards.
First thing is, cultivate around the base of the trees, just like the peaches. This kills a lot of the moths as they lay in their pupal sacks. This is a tough job, gloves and shovel, fighting Johnson and crab grass, but it also opens up the dirt for the tree’s roots and helps it get more water.
You can’t get them all this way. The moths or flies show up as soon as the tiny apples start forming on the trees. So, this year we tried something we read about online.
I had thought we had “coddling moths,” but I haven’t seen any yet. This trap we made with a 7-UP bottle really brought the fruit flies buzzing in, and most of them drown in the cocktail made with a quarter cup each apple cider vinegar and molasses, five cups of water, and just a few teaspoons of ammonia.
Last year we got a fairly good batch of apples, but many of them were rotten in the middle from fly maggots. We’ll see what happens this year.