October 2018 Newsletter: Gardening Tips | Citrus & Fruit

October Gardening Tips:

The first thing to do is evaluate, clean up and remedy any disease or pest related problems on existing landscape. It was a long, hot summer and with an abundance of rain that may have created some fungus and disease problems Check your plants and treat if needed with Mancozed or Liquid Systemic Fungicide II. Remember, fungicides are “preventative” and will not change existing- just reduce the spread of disease. If you have plants that are particularly susceptible, plan on starting fungicide spray early in the spring, before the summer rains.

Scale and aphids can be especially bad in the summer and these sucking insects will suck the life right out of your plants. Check the undersides of leaves, branches and new growth tips. These insects go after almost ALL plants and spread quickly all over the plant and then surrounding plants. Aphids can be light green, orange or yellow and most often can be controlled with Horticulture Oil and scale with Spinosad.

Weed beds, and if you didn’t fertilize your plants in September do so before mid month so plants have time to harden off before winter. This last application to plants, palms, citrus, fruit and shrubs are especially important. We recommend the Nurserymen’s Sure Gro slow release 8-4-12 Palm for palms and most basic shrubs and trees, the 8-4-8 Citrus for citrus and fruit bearing trees and the 6-8-10 Bloomer for flowering shrubs and trees. However, one plant you should NOT fertilize is your Bougainvillea…this plant will bloom better if left alone now until spring!

Freshen mulch, if needed to control weeds and reduce watering needs. Mulches come in a variety of choices from pine barks, cypress, colored red, and black. Stone is another option whether it’s red rock, lava rock or river rock. Weed mat should be laid before stone is spread to keep it from disappearing in the dirt. Our Palm Coast location offers many varieties of mulch in the bags.

Citrus & Fruit

You may also be experiencing fruit drop on citrus. This is common as citrus have three times per year when they may shed a few fruit early. Once, immediately after flowering in spring, June and again in fall. The tree will sometimes shed a few fruit if it has too many to support. With a lot of rain, you may also have some fruit splitting – this is caused by more water than the fruit can hold.

We often get asked this time of year whether citrus trees should be pruned. Citrus does not need to be pruned however, pruning mature trees will reduce the fruit yield proportional to the amount of foliage removed and can delay fruiting of young, nonbearing trees. Peach, plum and nectarine trees should be pruned however. Pruning allows for more annual vegetative growth to maintain vigor and maintain fruit production. Peach trees should be “bowl” shaped with no main leader. All fruit trees should be trimmed early- 4 weeks after petal drop when the fruit is the size of marbles.

We also get asked why some of the peel on the fruit has turned brown. In many cases it is caused by rust mites feeding on the peel in the summer causing a russeting of the peel. The interior of the fruit is not affected. Likewise, if your fruit has black sooty mold on it as a result of aphids or scale- simply wash the fruit and enjoy!

Do not let grass and weeds grow close to the trunk of citrus or any fruit tree. This will hold moisture around the trunk and encourage the attack of a fungus called “foot rot”. It can kill a tree. In addition, weed trimmers around trunks of any tree (especially fruit) will cause irreparable damage. Best to give fruit trees a nice wide area around them free of mulch, grass and vegetation.

Bananas: The best strategy for growing bananas in this part of the world so the plant will grow and produce faster is to religiously remove all suckers. Concentrate all energy into one stem. Cut the suckers off or dig them up. Let one stalk grow and it will produce better quality and larger bananas. When this stalk produces it will be the end of it and next year do the same with a new stalk that forms. Bananas have zero frost tolerance and don’t fare well in high wind either.

Decidious Fruit: Prune your deciduous fruit trees.

Peaches & Nectarines: The best fruiting wood is pencil width and one year old so prune to keep wood small and young. Peaches and nectarines require heavier annual pruning than other stone fruit as they bear solely on the previous season’s growth. Once a lateral has borne fruit it will never fruit again. Each year old growth needs to be replaced with new growth to prevent branches from becoming long, willowy and productive on the tips only. New growth should be pruned in early to mid-summer and the remaining pruning- right after harvest.
Plums: Plums fruit on semi-permanent branches as well as on old wood so only prune plum trees after harvest to shape- if desired.

Apples: Prune young trees (up to 10 years) lightly. Prune older trees more vigorously. Thinning-out cutting is associated with increased apple flower bud production.

Vegetables and Herbs

Vegetable gardeners LOVE the fall planting season with the cooler weather. ‘Up North’ you have one season, spring to fall when you plant everything. Here in Florida we have two main seasons with spring being the warm season vegetables like Summer Squash, Zucchini Squash, Watermelon, Cantaloupe, Tomatoes, Corn, Bell Peppers, Egg Plant and more. By the time July and August arrives most have had it with the heat and extreme sun and begin to decline. July and August are good for Okra, Field Peas, and Pumpkins. Vegetables that prefer the mild Florida winter growing season are Cabbage, Lettuce, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cauliflower, Beets, Radish, Collard Greens, Mustard Greens and Spinach.

If you get an early start by September or early October many vegetable gardeners can get in another crop of Tomato, Pepper, Squash and Eggplant before the cold weather arrives. Earthboxes are in stock and the BEST vegetable growing planter we’ve seen. You don’t even have to be an avid gardener to have great success with growing and producing delicious fresh vegetables. Whether it’s tomatoes spring and fall or mixed lettuce in winter, an Earth Box will provide all you need!

Herbs will be arriving in the Garden Center too and fall is the perfect time for them! Consider planting them in pots if ground planting is not an option. Group pots of parsley, thyme, rosemary, oregano and basil together close to your door for easy access! Herbs love the colder weather too. If any of your herbs survived the summer heat, groom them and feed them. Then add herbs like basil, chives, dill, fennel, oregano, sage, parsley and thyme.

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