2018-03-27 / Columns

Looking At Spring Chores

Garden Scene
with Peggy Bolton

Most gardeners have finished the yearly pruning on fruit trees, blueberry bushes, and many shrubs. If you’ve been putting off the chore, there is still time. You will want to be finished with it before the sap moves up the branches. In most cases, one cannot over prune. Pruning stimulates new growth, helps keep growth habit under control, and is the best way to remove dead or damaged branches. Always prune just above a leaf bud, so that you don’t end up with a leafless branch tip. Keep sod and grass back from the trunks of fruit trees. Do not put wood chips or mulch up to the trunk. This can cause disease and borer problems. At least a foot of bare soil around the trunk base will be beneficial to the fruit tree.

Make sure to have dormant oil on hand to spray on fruit trees and ornamental flowering crabapples. It is a benign oil, sometimes referred to as summer oil or horticultural oil. It is applied before trees bloom on a day when there will not be frost. Dormant oil helps suffocate pests that have wintered over on trees. Never spray anything when trees are in bloom. This could jeopardize the lives of pollinating insects.

Early spring is an excellent time to add additional wood chips to the base of blueberry bushes. Wood chips will help keep moisture around the shrub and make it hard for weeds to establish close to the trunks. Blueberry are dependent on a consistently moist soil and do not like to have to compete with weeds for water. Blueberry bushes are one of the few plants that can have chips heaped up over the crowns.

Send specific questions to: Country Grown Perennials LLC, Peggy Bolton, 4801 Pines Brook Road, Walton, NY 13856. Enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope if you wish to receive a personal reply. Visit us on the web at

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