May is coming to a close and what a month it has been. Last year at this time we were talking about drought conditions. This year we are begging the rain Gods to grant us some sort of reprieve from the deluge. One good aspect of the recent rain is that our orchards are springing to life. With the grass already at two feet high (and weeds catching up quickly) we made a late start this year with weeding. Our work is now cut out for us!
Our apple trees are now also in bloom. We have discovered that we may have a slight eastern tent caterpillar problem in the orchard which will require the use of Bacillus thuringiensis (B.t.) which is a natural spore-forming bacterium that occurs in soils everywhere and can be used to tackle caterpillar problems. As the spore matures, it produces a protein crystal that is toxic to certain insects. The use of Bacillus thuringiensis is non-toxic to bees and certain plant varieties that are accustomed to this bacterium already. We are always hesitant to use chemicals at the farm, but caterpillar colonies can infest an area for a decade or more.
The walnut trees are shade intolerant so there is a constant need for us to remove the weeds which can grow much faster than our trees. Last year’s drought means the walnuts will grow a little slower this year, so they need all the help we can give them. Here are some photos from the farm for the month of May. Enjoy!