Spraying fruit trees? Follow label instructions

March 20, 2012 01:56 pm

If your fruiting trees do not have blossoms open yet, and most don’t in our area of Northeast Oregon, it’s not too late to apply the last dose of dormant oil spray.

A few trees in very sheltered locations may be starting to open, if so, please don’t spray them now! With our spring winds upon us, the early morning hours are really the only time during the day that sprays can safely be used. It’s better to not use them then to use them improperly or risk the chance of drift.

I had a brief conversation with a gentleman at a local retail store a few weeks ago while I was looking for dormant oil spray for our peach trees. He was purchasing concentrated spray to kill ants that might someday come inside a rental property he owns. He seemed quite delighted to inform me that he uses it double-strength to make it “really work”. I had decided that in the store was not the time, after my off-handed remark that this stuff can kill you, for a lecture but it did make me wonder how many others have this same uneducated philosophy regarding the use of chemical sprays. If you are going to use these kinds of products, the wisest thing you can do is follow the label instructions. They are there for a reason. So are the precautions to use gloves and wear a mask to protect your airway and eyesight. The masks and rubber gloves are cheap and provide easy, but necessary, protection. Years, sometimes decades, of research have gone into the safe and responsible retail application process for using these chemical products.  And while regular readers of this column know that I advocate organic methods whenever and wherever possible, I also realize there are times when even natural methods of disease or pest control need assistance.  These times, however, should be few and far between.

I have used, for decades, a highly effective yet organic method for ridding my interior spaces of ants. Simply mix equal parts of boric acid, in powder form, with table sugar and place spoonful or smaller amounts in strategic places. Under the kitchen sink, along a countertop where you see them crawling, or inside lower cabinets are all good choices. Be certain you do not place them where pets or children can access the mixture. After all, even though arsenic is natural and organic, I am not going to sprinkle it on my cereal! Using boric acid/sugar mixture will almost always show a 75 percent reduction in ant numbers within three days with a complete eradication of your problem within one week. From time to time a scout or two may show up, simply place another amount of the boric acid/sugar mixture in another strategic area and your problem should be solved.

In the last column of the Garden Guide I had said I would be reviewing one of our local retail nursery outlets for this week. As is with many good intentions, sometimes life and family make planning ahead difficult, so it is my intent to preview local nurseries with the next column. We are fortunate to have so many fine choices for plant and information selections in our area. The latest one added to our community, GrandeScapes (on Island Avenue), is now open on Friday and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with full hours of operation beginning April 1st that are Monday through Saturday, same hours. Stargazer Perennials, just north of Summerville, and Eastern Oregon Nursery and Landscaping on Walton Road in Island City, will all be on my list of facilities to review. I have already purchased asparagus plants from D&B Supply who, although their greenhouse is not open yet, have begun to make available trees and shrubs in their outdoor area.

When purchasing nursery stock, try to buy plants that match the growth of local stock. Are our fruit trees leafed out yet? Do flowering shrubs have new growth? Think of what is already established in our area when purchasing new plants. If our shrubs are dormant, buying shrubs that are also dormant will enhance their survival rate. Are yours leafed out? Then purchasing plants that are in full growth is also a good idea. Observe what is growing well locally and make your purchases smart. If you buy plants that are in active growth, and our local plants are still dormant, just remember to place your new plants in a protected area until it is safe to put them into the open.


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758 words. Jennie Lu Hagen, March 19, 2012