Winter Chores

I've been wanting to write about the many things waiting to be done, but I've just been too busy out in the garden. That's right, we have no snow, it's wet and pleasant for the weeds, so we'd better roll up our sleeves.



One of the fun -- if a little scary -- tasks is pruning the fruit trees. I have a triple plum, two peach trees, a nectarine, and two baby apple trees. I'm trying to keep them at a manageable size, so I prune in winter for shape and in summer to reduce vigor. It's an interesting challenge, especially with the plum. The multigraft trees never look like the tree in the pruning book.

A fun but smelly task is the lime-sulfur spraying of the fruit trees. This needs to happen on a day without rain, and without rain forecast, and I must have a stretch of time for it. The challenging job is to hook up the contraption to the garden hose, spraying doesn't take that long because the trees are small. I use these nasty chemicals because it's really the only way to avoid peach leaf curl. And as long as I'm spraying before the tree buds out, the fruit is still considered organic. How does it smell? Like rotten eggs.





I also spent some time anchoring to the fence what's supposed to be anchored. That includes the espalier of the Toyon, and tying vines to their trellises. The Aristolochia out front badly needed to be pruned, and I caught it just before it started setting buds. And that's one danger here in our mild climate. Sometimes the leaves haven't fallen yet and the plant already buds out again.



And finally, there are the weeds. Above, the spurge, looking pretty and very harmless amongst the poppies. But if you miss just one plant, and it flowers, you'll have thousands of little spurges to look forward to in the next rainy season. I still don't know where I missed one last year, but there surely are a lot of seeds in the back. Interestingly, this is actually a pleasant weed to pull, it comes out easily and with all its roots. Much better than the dreaded Oxalis pes-caprae poor Country Mouse is battling. The only problem is that the days are short and the winter garden tasks are many.

Comments

Town Mouse said…
I have plenty of leafy spurge or petty spurge whatever it is called. Galaxies of it in fact. Get on top of one thing and another thing crops up. I wonder if it's something to do with the weather, that we both have an invasion of this one?
Country Mouse said…
(Oops. I was logged on as Town Mouse when I made that comment - Unfortunately you can have only one co-blogger with administrative privileges, so sometimes I hijack Town Mouse's identity to do a little administration)
Christine said…
Clare at Curbstone mentioned that she has the dreaded Scotch Broom. Made me feel loads better about my battle with Oxalis. Your toyon is going to be so lovely when it's all grown up! Glad you're enjoying this moment of sunshine!
Teresa said…
Nice that you can be outside this time of year in your garden. It is so nice to see green leaves in your photos. ...Just a few more months.
Kelly said…
Oh the weeds! We are on our third round of torching the oxalis. I am hopeful that if I continue to be vigilant, I will win this war over the long term. Hope. It is a wonderful thing...
debsgarden said…
Well, i spent a portion of my morning today pulling weeds, the chief among them being spurge! Seems it must cover the entire continent.
Oh my, poor Country Mouse. I just posted yesterday that I was concerned a couple of years ago we may have the dreaded Oxalis pes-caprae...but was so releived when it turned out to be Redwood Sorrel.

That said...still think I'd rather battle the Oxalis pes-caprae...the French Broom we have is relentless, and we need to go two or three rounds with that this weekend while the soils are wet. I'm quite jealous you've managed to get so much done already.

Don't feel bad about your multigraft fruit tree. Your trees look lovely. Just achieving balance with a mulitgraft is challenge enough!
AnneTanne said…
Over here, the only chore that can be done at this moment is a little pruning. Winter is rather cold this year in Belgium, with temperatures that have been around freezing the whole month.
(But I like it, when it's winter in winter... Some more snow is promised for tomorrow in the early morning.)

The oxalis I don't like here, is Oxalis corniculata. It's such a little pretty one... but one you can't control, too...
Oh the dreaded spurge. Looks like my garden--gosh we have so many plants in common... I suspect the seed can sit dormant in the soil for a few years, as well, and then pop up when you least expect it--surprise!
Brad said…
I've been weeding spurge all winter, much like last. Fortunately, this year there was a lot less. And it does come out easily.
Barbara said…
Count me in with the petty spurge - I pull it on my way in and out of the house... swinecress too. STill I always felt way more overwhelmed with weeds when I gardened in NJ. The season there is only a bit over half the year, but when the weeds come they really come in force.