Edible Landscaping

Q & A

Question: I live in Iowa and this year my peach fruits had little black spots on the outside of the skin, but not on the inside. What is this and how can I prevent it next year?

Answer: It sounds like your peaches had bacterial spot. This bacteria infects peaches, nectarines, cherries, and plums and is found on the leaves, stems, and fruits. The small black spots on the leaves and fruits and can be so severe that the leaves drop and the fruits are ruined. The spots are more pronounced on the sunny side of the fruits. Warm temperatures, rain, and wind encourage the disease's spread.

To control bacterial spot, prune peaches annually to promote good airflow through the trees, clean up all dropped fruits and leaves in fall, avoid excessive nitrogen fertilization, and grow disease-resistant varieties such as 'Redhaven'.

Question: I have nine different fig trees growing in pots in my yard. How do I over-winter them? I'm in North Carolina, USDA zone 7.

Answer: First of all, many fig varieties are hardy in zone 7, so if you can plant these trees in a sheltered location they should be okay. You can protect the newly planted fig trees by wrapping the tops with burlap and mulching the bases with bark mulch.

If you keep them in their pots, you'll have to move your figs to a warmer location in winter because container-grown plants are more sensitive to the cold than those planted in the ground. Allow the trees to go dormant by reducing the frequency of watering before the first expected frost for your area. It's okay to expose the trees to a few light frosts — cool weather will cause the leaves to drop and sap to move to the roots — but protect them from temperatures colder than the mid 20s. Then remove any remaining leaves. Move the trees into a dark, unheated garage or shed where the temperatures will stay above 20 degrees F. Don't expose them to too much light or they will sprout prematurely in winter. Keep the soil almost completely dry. Move the containerized fig back outside two weeks before your last frost in spring.

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