Saturday, June 04, 2005

"I found them mating on a tomato plant"

I am sitting on the back deck semi-intoxicated from the ripe smell of autumn olives in bloom. It is a smell I associate with Memorial Day, but this is yet further evidence of our late spring. The field has lost its dots of yellow flowers and is now spotted white with daisies. And it looks like beach weekend for rabbits out there tonight. I’ve lost count

The big event this week was the installation of the apple “orchard.” The retirement gift of an apple tree has been transformed into a 6 whip “orchard.” Because the island is a red cedar tree haven, apple trees do not do very well here due to the dreaded “cedar rust blight.” If only I were starting my orchard in Virginia, I could rely on a law brought to my attention by Jim Fechner known as The Cedar Rust Act of 1914 which in part reads as follows:

It shall hereafter be unlawful within this State for any person, firm or corporation to own, plant or keep alive and standing upon his or its premises, any red cedar tree, or trees (which are or may be) the source, harbor or host plant for the communicable plant disease commonly known as 'orange' or 'cedar rust' of the apple, and any such cedar trees, when growing within a radius of one mile of any apple orchard in this State, are hereby declared a public nuisance and shall be destroyed as hereinafter provided, and it shall be the duty of the owner or owners of any such cedar trees to destroy the same as soon as they are directed to do so by the State entomologist, as hereinafter provided.

So much for “sic semper tyrannis.”

So lacking the long arm of the law, I have had to rely on rust free or rust resistant varieties. I have two “Jonafree” , two “Liberty”, one “Freedom” and an experimental “Arkansas Black.” Tea Lane Nursery put them in and they agreed to add a handful of Azomite to the planting medium. It will be 3-5 years before I see fruit. Right now I’ll be happy just to see leaves.

Then, of course, there are the deer. I learned that deer do not like to walk on chicken wire. I also learned that in the fall when the deer are growing antlers they like to rub them on the base of saplings. So the trees are in little antler cages for now and when the fall comes I will have to build a fence around the orchard. But it’s great to have begun this adventure that I have wanted to embark on for over a decade.

The first Potato Beetle reared its ugly self today. I found them mating on a tomato plant. Luckily I had harvested some bamboo yesterday morning, so I hooped in the potatoes after carefully checking that no beetles had arrived there yet and covered the bed with summer weight cloth. It’s not terribly attractive, but it gets the job done.

No comments: