I had no particular plan yesterday to deal with my fruit trees, but as I was walking I noticed that the pile of mulch was still by Waldo park. The neighborhood has a work day and cleans and puts mulch around the bushes and trees in the park every spring. They get a huge pile of mulch for this. It is always more than the park needs. The remaining bits of the pile sits outside the park fence rotting. Any of the neighbors can come and take it as it is no longer needed. The park is a few blocks from my house. I figured I ought to bring some to a spot or two that still needs mulch. I brought out my wheelbarrow and got one load. It was enough to cover the spot under my weeping plum tree. I used to let this bed grow volunteer sunflowers, cilantro, and sweet alyssum, but with the tree there I've been having trouble keeping those volunteers down. The mulch ought to help.
Then in the afternoon I noticed that my apple tree had some half inch long baby apples on it. I hadn't really been looking as it also still has blooms on it. It has been setting apples over a long period this year. I always use protection - well for my apple trees. I don't spray pesticides. Instead I put on little footies when the apples are tiny to keep all those apple pests out of my apples.
I pick the best and biggest apples on the tree. Some I can see are already damaged as they have indentations on them. But the perfect bigger ones are wrapped in the footies and tied on with twist ties. I don't cover them all as the tree can only support an apple about every eight inches or so. I don't even do that many. Though I'm not particularly even about picking my best baby apples on a branch. I used 85 little footies then ran out. But that is fine. I'm a little worried that it may be too much even though I wasn't particularly dense in picking my apples. 85 seems like a lot of apples for a tree that is only 8' tall and not particularly thick in foliage.
Over the next few days I'll go out and take off any baby apples that aren't in footies. Two years ago we had a great flush of apples and then the next year the tree barely bloomed. It isn't supposed to be a biennial bearer, but I've heard that if the tree sets too many one year, it won't the next. So hopefully my thinning will work. If not I'll have to thin more vigorously in future years.
I have another apple tree, but it was attacked by some kind of caterpillar. I'm thinking the winter moths that invaded our state (I think from China), but I'm not sure as I didn't notice when they were feeding and they seem to be gone now. It bloomed later too. So the baby apples it does have are small. The biggest ones of those are damaged. I'll come back in a week or so and see if there is enough worth saving to protect the tree. A few really aren't worth it as I have to net the whole tree later to keep the squirrels away. And netitng the whole tree is not worth a few apples.
I also noticed some stress on the Ginger Gold apple tree. So I watered that one and the smaller Honey Crisp. I watched the forecast yesterday and they said we were in a mild drought right now. We have only had about a third of an inch of rain in May. And we are down 4 to 6 inches since March. All my other fruit trees have been getting watered regularly, but these two apple trees are landscape plants and I don't water my landscape on a regular basis.