Nursery Notes: Sunny fall brings out treats

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After another cool, wet spring it sure has been great to enjoy all the sunshine we’ve had lately. It is nice to see the fall colours creeping their way into the foliage.

As I’ve mentioned before a little short term drought stress at the end of summer encourages plants to go into their winter dormancy faster. Bright reds, yellows and oranges appear earlier on these plants. With no serious frosts to contend with the leaves of these trees will just hang on until the next big windstorm hits. This seems to happen every time the jet stream gets the valley lined up between north and south systems.

Speaking of early…when it comes to the harvest season of various fruit trees, we have an Early Italian prune plum that we just finished picking last week. We also have a Late Italian tree which we are just now starting to harvest. Two different cultivars, roughly ten days apart.

Redhaven peaches offer another example of this. The Early Redhaven is ready around Aug. 10th and while it is great eating the later Redhaven Peaches offer great eating as well as the usefulness of a freestone pit which makes canning them a lot easier. In addition to the varieties ripening date, the more sun the fruit tree receives the faster it will ripen the fruit. If you have a very light crop of fruit the lack of volume would speed the process up as well.

For a cucumber plant each and every fruit will take the same amount of energy out of the plant regardless of fruit size. The fruit is basically an energy sink. For plants like the tomato, more sunlight exposure means more fruit and this is directly proportional. That is to say ten per cent more sunlight should yield you ten per cent more fruit in a given season if all else is the same.

While writing of harvests and just recently having celebrated Thanksgiving I was going to mention the pumpkin plant that grew out of the nursery’s compost pile. No fewer than 45 pumpkins ranging from 4 to 20 pounds off one enormous volunteer plant. It’s ironic that with the late start to the gardening season this year this one just popped up on it’s own and presto. That’s one of the great joys of gardening! There’s always another pleasant surprise.