Apple Leaf Curl & Forcing Bulbs In Containers

Question:

My Apple tree was traumatized last year by Black Aphids. I kept cutting off the affected leaves, but the trees looked bad all summer long. I control the Aphids by putting a ring of the sticky stuff around the trunk in the past. This year it didn't help at all. Would dormant spray help in creating an Aphid-free season next year?  

Answer:

  • Aphids are a spring pest problem on Apple trees and other fruit trees and plants.
    • They come in different colors, with green and black as the most common. Aphids cause the leaves to curl up like one of those Italian cookies. The leaves then dry up and remain on the tree until the fall when they drop off.
  • Many gardeners confuse this curly leaf with Peach Leaf Curl, but they are not the same.
    • Peach Leaf Curl is a fungus that attacks only peaches and nectarine trees. Copper Spray applied in the fall and in January and February is the recommended control. Copper Spray and other types of dormant spray doesn't prevent the Aphids from returning. Aphids are mobile and are present year-round so the barrier alone will not prevent the problem. Your best method of controlling the Aphids is being diligent and checking trees for curly leaves in the spring as the leaves are emerging.
    • Once you see a few curly leaves, pick them off and spray with Insecticidal Soap, making three applications a week apart. That prevents the problem from continuing. I would still apply the sticky stuff, also know as Tanglefoot or Pest Barrier. Aphids are be ferried around by ants. The ants feed on off the clear sticky residue called 'Honey Dew.' The early detection and preventive action will keep the apple tree Aphid free. 

NOTE: A picture of Peach Leaf Curl is on the Weekend To-Do List for December 5-6

Question:

 How would I force bulbs in containers? Should a novice gardener attempt this?

Answer:

  •  Forcing bulbs in a container is a gardening project for people of all ages and skills. It's simple to do with a high degree of success.
    • Paperwhite Narcissus and Hyacinths are the best bulbs for forcing. Water is the primary medium, while commercial growers use sand.
    • You will need a shallow container, like a saucer, and polish rocks, pebbles, or gravel. The bulbs are set on the pebbles, and water is added. You need to be sure that the water level is just below the bulb's base to avoid rotting. The bulbs are placed next to one another. Although they're loose to begin with, roots will form quickly and anchor the bulbs in the container, and they can grow in direct or indirect light. You should see shoots developing within four to six weeks and flowers after that. 
  •  To extend the blooming period, stagger your planting by starting new ones every three weeks. Once they finish blooming, the bulbs are discarded. Bulbs are a storage chamber, so they recharge themselves for the following year by storing nutrients from the soil.  That's not possible in water or sand.