apple blossoms

Our Master Gardener help desk gets emails mid-summer when apple trees drop many of their leaves, except for the outer 12 inches or so. The same thing can happen to our ornamental flowering crabapples. In both cases, the cause is the same – a fungal disease that infects the foliage and fruits.

January begins the annual flight of vegetable, flower, and fruit tree catalogs to your mailbox (or your email inbox). Depending on your level of gardening, the catalogs may arrive frequently and in mass.

Given our milder winter, gardeners may be surprised with the need to do some pruning on shrubs that are typically considered hardy in our area. It is not uncommon to find a bit of winter dieback where last years’ growth was actively growing late in the summer or where we got a bit carried away and fertilized too late in the season. The tips and ends of those branches were not able to harden off in time to survive the winter.

Seems fitting to give a nod to cranberries in this week’s column, given the time of year. Whether strung with popcorn on Christmas trees, or as dishes at Thanksgiving and Christmas meals, cranberries are a seasonal favorite. Once eaten only a couple times a year, they now can be found in the grocery aisles, canned or dried, just about any time of the year.