The Gardener’s Corner

The Gardener’s Corner

To pesticide or not to pesticide?

Erik deals with an aphid problem on one of his plum trees

Why is it called a Fall Fair?

That was the question I asked myself after I had moved up from Victoria. When I experienced my first Fall Fair, I was no longer in doubt.

Moving to the valley gave me an eye-opener to something altogether new. I used to mow lawns from March until November. I was able to plant potatoes in the middle of March.

I like it a lot better here.

Today, I picked two five-gallon pails of apples from thinning the two overloaded trees. I was able to make two and a half gallons of apple juice.

It will be necessary to do more thinning out, but that has to wait until the raspberries have been picked.

While speaking to a friend who also mentioned when the orchards are thinning apples, they allow six inches between each one.

My one plum tree has had a setback over the last two years due to an infestation of aphids. I have attempted to use an alternative method, such as soap and water and safer insecticide soap; none of them could control aphids but I have the situation finally under control.

Unless an infestation of aphids is brought completely under control one year, they will return the next.

I’d like to insert a comment here relating to the use of any pesticide. So many people are opposed to any kind of its use. Perhaps rightly so.

Therefore, to save my plum tree, an insecticide was needed. Because each adult aphid can produce up to eighty offspring in a matter of a week, aphid populations can increase with great speed. In those cases, aphids lay these eggs on an alternative host, usually a perennial plant, for winter survival.

When I get time, I plan to remove the affected branches. Perhaps the plum tree will be able to regain some strength. This has been my experience with gardening. Some jobs are straightforward; others can be an experiment or guessing game.

Pruning and getting the fruit from an apple or pear tree can be a headache. One way to make this somewhat easier is to grow the trees as espalier.

The word espalier is French, and it comes from the Italian spalliera, meaning “something to rest the shoulder (spalla) against.”

My parents in Denmark had their garden landscaped in the late 1930s. They used the espalier method. They were, therefore, able to have four apple trees and two pear trees in a relatively small garden.

Most people are not able to process all the fruit from a regular fruit tree. One way to accomplish this is to set round posts in concrete every ten feet and eight feet in height. Then string a heavy wire between posts two feet apart. You will plant an apple or pear tree against each post, then train the branches to grow along each wire.

I finally got a chance to pick the currant berries. They make excellent jams, syrups, or just to eat. They also freeze well.

If you have questions or suggestions for topics, please email me at