Pruning An Overgrown Fruit Tree & Controlling Ants On Artichokes

Question:

We have a massive, overgrown peach tree that has been ignored for years but it continues to produce. Its branches are twisted and falling into the neighbor's yards. We want to get it back in shape.  When is a good time to trim and fertilize the tree?

Answer:

The traditional time to prune fruit trees is during the winter months when they’re dormant. However, pruning during the late summer and fall is also being recommended.
  • The advantages of pruning in the summer and fall are comfortable temperatures and no mud. The biggest disadvantage, is the leaves get in the way of viewing the structure of the tree.
    • At this time, the trees are in the beginning stage of dormancy as the fruit has been harvested and they’ve stopped growing.
  • With overgrown fruit trees, the first priority is re-establishing the scaffolding and then the secondary branches within the canopy. Hence, fruit production is sacrificed.
    • I’d first remove all the dead wood and all the crossing and rubbing branches, keeping those that add to the overall shape to the tree. With the flush of new growth next year, the process of reestablishing the tree structure begins.
    • I wouldn’t be afraid to remove or thin out any growth once you determine that they aren’t going be adding to the shape. It will take several growing season to accomplish this.
    • The severe pruning will eliminate the fruiting spurs but they’ll return in a couple of years
  •  Peaches produce their fruit on the second year wood.  EB Stone Organics and Dr. Earth are two excellent granular organic fertilizers for fruit and nut trees.
    • I’d make two applications starting in March/April and again in May/June.  The fertilizer should be evenly spread around the canopy and not piled at the trunk.
  • Overgrown fruit trees can be fixed but it will take time.

Question:

What can I do to keep the ants away from my Artichoke plants? The leaves are covered with a sticky-looking substance and scores of dead ants.

  • The dead bugs you’re observing are not likely ants but Aphids.
    • Aphids produce the clear, sticky residue as they feed on the plants. Also, it’s not unusual to find a black mold growing on it. The residue from the Aphids is a food source for the ants
    • Although Aphids move about on their own, ants have been known to ferry them around. Hence, when the Aphids are active, you'll find ants. The Ants are not harmful to the Artichokes
  • You'll control the Aphids with Insecticidal Soap, one of many organic solutions used on edibles.
    • You'll make repeat applications as necessary as the probability of them returning several times each year is very high. I’d inspect the plants regularly for ants and or aphids.
    • The Ants disappear on their own once the food source is no longer available.
  • To successfully grow Artichokes, you'll need to feed them, give them plenty of moisture and keep the Aphids under control.

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