Friday, April 22, 2016

Happy Earth Day! (and, A Fun and Exciting Citizen Science Project!)

Happy Earth Day everyone!  Hope you're planning to get out and enjoy yourself some nature, make your little corner of the environment a better place, and maybe, save some frickin' trees like Tenacious D.

Along those lines, last weekend, we found ourselves trying to save some trees.  More specifically, trying to save our fruit tree blossoms, many of which decided to burst forth in glory right before an epic April Colorado blizzard. (Higher elevations saw close to 50" of snow, but we barely got a foot.)  In fact, every spring, we find ourselves wishing our fruit trees would bloom later so we wouldn't have to worry so much about fruitless years.

Chicken feed bags on peach tree
Yet another use for chicken feed bags. Not sure if it saved the flowers, but it definitely made the trees look ridiculous..

It turns out, we're not alone.  One of our favorite homestead bloggers has similar annual lamentations on her southwest Virginia homestead, and has been researching apple varieties that bloom later.  (It turns out that the bloom time is a function of the cultivar and depends on the number of hours the tree spends above 40 °F, after a chill period.)  Unable to find the necessary data from researchers in the ivory tower of academia (this paper has a good list, but features mainly commercial cultivars), Anna has started a Google spreadsheet to crowdsource the information.

Spreadsheet Screen Shot
Anna's Google spreadsheet: enter your fruit tree bloom times this spring!

This is where you, dear readers, can help.

Here's how it works, and it's super simple: click on the link above, and enter in your USDA growing zone (make sure to get the right one; some have changed in the last few years to reflect less frigid minimum winter temperatures), apple variety, and the date it reached full bloom.  Then, read through the other varieties and see which ones bloom after your last local frost or freeze date.  After that, you might want to get distracted for several hours reading about heirloom apple cultivars.

It's a short list so far, but together, we can help Anna make it the ultimate guide to frost-wise apple variety selection!  Thanks for organizing it, Anna!

No comments:

Post a Comment