The sun is out but a cold breeze is blowing. My friend the beekeeper stopped by to say the bees were out foraging in the warmth of the sun the other day. They were collecting pollen. An hour later, I’m sitting inside at the lunch table watching clouds of pollen blow off the hedge by the house window. Every little gust of wind picked a little more pollen from the evergreen branches. I had been thinking it was just dust from the highway.
Bees are always after the early flowers, such as willow. They also like the early crocus and tulip flowers. Once the nursery stock is laid out for spring, they are attracted to the red heather, the yellow forsythia and the bell-shaped flowers of the lily of the valley shrub. Butterflies are attracted to perennial plant flowers like yarrow, asters and echinacea. They like daphne and rose flowers, too. These last two smell pretty good to me too but that won’t be for a few months yet.
Well, as I mentioned, spring is here. The phone is ringing. I am working hard to get the whole operation organized and running smoothly. Folks are inquiring about fruit trees, dormant sprays and fertilizers. I hope to be open by the time you are reading this. In the meantime, I would say that it is a great time of year to improve your garden soil structure by adding plenty of organic matter to it. Compost, rotted manure and peat moss are all excellent sources of organic matter and will improve your soil’s moisture-holding capacity, making watering easier through the heat of summer.
We supposed to be in a super El Niño year, with the warmest February on record in many parts of the world. March here has been mild. Planting fruit trees is OK now; most of them are quite tolerant of cold nights when dormant, anyway.
If you have a few days of sun in a row and the nights are around or above freezing, it is safe enough to apply your dormant sprays. Remember to keep the sulphur component off your apricot trees. Some of them are damaged by it. Dormant sprays are applied to the orchard trees right up to when the blossoms open. Farmers that wait longer get a better bug kill from the oil component of the spray. I usually take care of it a little earlier because I run out of time later.
As for fertilizers, it is recommended that you use a split application of all purpose or fruit tree food with half now and half later on in June. This will help keep the trees from growing too much vegetatively (green growth) early in the season. This should help even out the fruit production too, one year over the next.
Evan Davies owns Beltane Nursery at 2915 Highway 3 in Erickson.