Thursday, November 29, 2012

R.I.P. Bramulator

Nature can be cruel, very cruel. And survival of the fittest is often replaced by the random lottery of disease and death. Such was the fate of my most promising Bramley apple, the Bramulator. After a day of record temperatures for November, apparently, I was watering in the evening only to find that the Bramulator had had its ass handed to it by a strange and disfiguring wound developing on its side. My heart sank, I had become very attached to this little guy and was looking forward to pulverising him in a blender and making apple sauce. As of yet I haven't identified the condition however it looks quite distinctive and I went to the effort of documenting it scientifically before I laid the Bramulator to rest. In years to come there will be so many apples (I hope) that this level of individual coveting will be impractical. But for now I will continue to honor this apple that gave its life to further the cause of apple disease research. Your death will not have been in vain, you would have been delicious.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Codling Larvae Sighted.

Careful probing of one of the Summer Strawberry apples today confirmed my suspicions and dampened my spirits about getting a good crop this year. This is the Codling Moth larvae, alive and well and starting is journey to the center of the apple. This sighting was enough to send me to Bunnings, as if i needed an excuse, to seek protecting for the remaining unmolested fruit. I went with Yates Dipel which is a less toxic bacteria based insecticide. It may be too little too late but at least I can say I tried damn it!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

What Now!?!?!?

As far as graden maladies go I've been fairly blessed really, but this season has delivered some unique first-time challenges. Just as I'm reeling from the recent outbreak of the Apple Mosaic Virus, today I've discovered something just as unsightly and potentially much more destructive. My best guess so far is that I'm dealing with the Codling Moth. So far the only activity is on the Summer Strawberry which is bad enough but I am dreading the appearance of these onomous wounds on my other trees, particularly my coveted Bramley. As with the Mosaic virus I'm trying to be philosophical about the whole thing. An early crop lost means supsequent, larger crops will be better protected. I'm also finding that changes in weather from season to season seem to be influential in which pests are active. Last year was constantly wet and swarming with aphids, this year is substantially drier and who knows what horrors will come next. Anyway, let the power of macro photography take you into the perverted world of the Codling Moth.

 The first sign is this wierd saw dust stuff or 'frass' that activates disappointment.

 Once cleared away there is a shallow crater with a tiny hole.

 Sectioning this apple revealled a similarly shallow cavern. I couldn't find any kind of grub after poking around suggesting these might be Codling Moth 'stings'. That's where the grub starts eating and then stops for some reason and hopefully dies.

So many of the Summer Strawberry apples are affected I lost count!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Propagation Progress

When I first set up this air layering experiment, basically ring-barking the chosen stem of the rose, I was unsure how on earth the stem was going to stay alive without its 'Cambium' growth layer. I'd always though that all the action, particularly water transport, took part there. Shows what I knew! Not only is the stem alive and healthy but flourishing with new growth like mad.It seems the inner structure of the stem is quite capable of carrying water and nutrients on its own. I assume this is only the case with the young, green, canes and will not start carelessly ring-barking roses with the whipper snipper when clearing weeds.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Apple Progress Report

A post only really suited to the extreme apple nerds. As I've got at least five varieties fruiting for the first time this year, I thought it necessary to chart their progress with excruciating detail. Every variety flowers and fruits its own way. Some varieties bloom profusely while others struggle to flower at all. Some bolt out of the gate with spring while others are compelled to get up late, like me. They also all start to show of their unique appearances from day one with some red ripe while only the size of marbles. The following is an early snapshot of all the fruits that will appear this year.

This is the Bramley. Only a couple of fruits this year, maybe just one. A very characteristic shape, kind of looks like a naval mine. These emerge from huge, bold flowers, quite late in spring.

First fruiting year for the Calville Blanc. Like the Bramley it is a triploid so at least two other varieties are necessary for pollination. I have oodles. Really measly little flowers which appear late like the Bramley.

First fruit from the Corryong Pippin. No surprise as this is the infamous 'mop-graft' with its body builders root system. The fruit are a perfect bright green and will ripen to deep yellow with a slight red blush.

The Snow Apple has some nice clusters of fruit this year, even if it does have an apple STD.

Summer Strawberry way the star performer last year and the only tree to produce respectable, edible fruit. This year is shaping up to be even better.

The Crofton is the earliest apple I've got. It has the first blossom and its fruit is already almost twenty cent piece size.

The Sturmer is another late bloomer but a respectable first crop.

This is the Bonza graft growing like mad on the Sturmer. Amazingly it hast two fruit that I can't bring myself to remove. Their weight may become a problem for the integrity of the graft so I'm cooking up a way to support them, probably something excessive.

Friday, November 2, 2012

We have a winner.

Finally it looks like I've found the cause of the unusual chlorosis on the apple leaves. It turns out not to be a nutrient deficiency, it's a virus, the Apple Mosaic virus to be exact. It could have been worse, it's not technically contagious. That is, without human intervention. When humans and their strange interest in cutting bits off things and attaching them to other things gets going, the problems start. IE, grafting. Infected scion wood will transfer the virus to the parent tree and thus the disease spreads. You'd think it would be easy enough to eradicate then right? Seems not. My first case of the virus was on the Snow Apple bought from a nursery in Tasmania that will remain nameless, for the time being. The second appearance is on the piece of scion wood given to me recently by a generous member of a community of like-minded people which will also remain nameless for a bit. Not good for business! A concern I have now is whether or not the disease can be spread by pruning through secateur blades! In future I think I'll have a separate pair to prune my sick trees.
All this aside, I'm trying to be philosophical about the whole thing. The point of my current apple orchard it to learn how to grow apples. Some things will work, some will fail, others will get strange apple STD's. The important thing at the moment is the knowledge, not necessarily the biggest or best apples in the world.

One of the leaves on the Snow Apple. It'd a dead ringer.
The Bonza graft is growing like mad but the yellow mottling is unmistakable.