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Hodges nursery workshop notes on caring for fruit trees and vines

Mr. Hodges. Notes by Gayle Kimball.


For large cuts, don’t use the black goop, can use whitewash like you see on walnut trees. It keeps sunburn and bores out.

To prune, cut straight, as an angle is a bigger wound. It will die back so cut about 1.8 inch away from the stem. Leave an outward bud. Prune fruit trees in May and September, think Memorial Day and Labor Day. Anvil loppers are not for pruning but for cutting big suckers that come up from the ground.

Grapes and kiwis bloom on new wood

Cut suckers from citrus. They grow from below the graft.

Prune grapes and kiwis to just 2 buds, or can do 4 buds before frost in case of damage.



Good soil additive: Dr Earth fertilizer and soil additive. Fertilize once a month in the spring. Citrus needs potassium and phosphorous, as in Epsom salts. Yellow leaves show nitrogen or iron deficiency.

Mulch is useful.

Dwarf peach trees don’t taste good. Plant semi-dwarf or regular and keep them pruned no higher than your ladder.

Black walnut leaves and nuts are toxic.

Plant trees so about 2 inches below the graft is showing. Plant major roots north and south to be stronger in winds. Prune so tree is about the length of roots or less. Water right away to get out air pockets. Add more dirt as it settles. Water 2-3 times a week until established, then at least 1 a week. Can plant 5 feet apart.

He keeps his fruit trees small, even plants 4 in the same hole, like different varieties of figs.

The hardiest avocado trees he’s found are Mexicola Stuart.

New berry is bababerry, like a big raspberry.

Can plant vines on a tall rebar.


Pest Control

Spray with copper in December and when blooms before buds push out. Spray seaweed extract and compost tea in the spring.

For peach leaf curl, and fire blight (a bacteria), spray Nature’s Solution copper and oil mixed. Cut back the black blight 2 inches below the damage and sterilize clippers with rubbing alcohol or bleach.

Scale and leaf hoppers: use canola oil

White flies and aphids: “Year Round” canola oil coats the insects and hang a sticky trap on the tree or grape vine.

Caterpillars, worms, and coddling moth: Captain Jack

Gophers: plant in cages made of 1-inch chicken wire, a 10-foot roll. There’s also “Gopher Scram” that you put on the soil to drive them away.



Cover with a blanket or garbage bag, water

Even if the leaves die, if the stems are green the tree is alive.


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