We're into the deeper green of a well-watered spring now. The grass is growing inches a day and the sheep are down in the lower field. They can hardly keep up with the rotation. It's taken me a good amount of time to get the mower going. I use it around the house and the blueberries. It's a real work horse, but the ethanol in gasoline gunks it up, and it takes awhile to get the kinks out in the spring. I still need to look at the manual and see what needs to be tightened to improve the traction of the wheels. The engine is working fine now, but there is a belt loose running to the wheels. On the apple front, have finally figured out this year the little pest that wreaks havoc right at petal fall, the tarnished plant bug it's called, and I finally identified the tell-tale browning at the midrib of the leaves and frizzling of the flower buds. One spray of pyrethrum and it looks like it's taken care of. I can take a look at my first Northern Spy. If if it gives off a healthy vibration from the back door I know things are good. Today I gave the trees with substantial blossoms a spray of Surround, which is a fine clay that coats the fruit buds to protect against plum curculio. The curculio lays eggs in the small fruitlets and it has been a problem these last few years. The Surround spray is the only organic option, and it has been only partially effective, due I think to the small numbers of fruit bearing trees we have so far. This year we have double the number, which should reduce the pest pressure. Also I am leaving a trap tree unsprayed to see if that works.
There is no question that apples are a labor intensive crop in this part of the world. In the old days, they used to handle curculio, all hands on deck, going out at dawn and placing a sheet around a tree, then thumping it with a club hammer. The vibrations would send the bug to ground, where they could be rolled up and dispensed with before moving on to the next tree in the row. That might be us if the Surround doesn't fly and I can convince the kids that bushels of apples are worth getting up early for.
But forget the musings on future harvests. The fresh faced trees and the bright sun and cool days, the promise of renewal and future bliss, this is the best of New England -- aside from the bounty of falling leaves in the fall.