Agincourt Community Services Volunteer painting fruit tree trunks white in Ben Nobleman Park Community Orchard in Toronto
Ben Nobleman Park Community Orchard became just a little bit more beautiful last Sunday, July 27th. Our fruit trees got a little extra tender loving care as 14 fantastic volunteers from Agincourt Community Services Association (ACSA) came to help paint the trunks of Ben Nobleman’s fruit trees with white latex paint.
As Orchard Coordinator and fruit tree care book author Susan Poizner explained to the Mandarin-speaking group through two translators, painting the trees white doesn’t just look nice – it’s one way that organic orchardists protect their trees from insect damage because insects have trouble crawling up the shiny surface of the painted trunk and the reflective glare of the white surface also discourages them from approaching.
Ben Nobleman Park Community Orchard volunteer Lynn Nicholas prepares diluted paint for the fruit tree trunks
Using ordinary white latex paint from the local paint store, Ben Nobleman’s Volunteer and Administrative Coordinator, Lynn Nicholas, helped the volunteers dilute the paint – with 50 percent paint and 50 percent water, and sent them off into the orchard to paint the tree trunks from the ground up to each tree’s lowest branches.
The volunteers were fantastic! They bounded out into the orchard and meticulously painted each tree finishing the job in less than 20 minutes. Then Susan gave them a tour of the orchard and taught them about the hands-on aspect of fruit tree care and how important it is to choose the right tree if your orchard is to be successful – amongst the topics that she teaches about in her online workshops at www.urbanfruittree.com.
Susan ended the tour in Ben Nobleman Park Community Orchard’s beautiful pollinator garden and she gave each volunteers some fresh sage to take home as a way of remembering their visit. It was a wonderful day and we look forward to welcoming them back into our orchard next year! Or who knows, maybe next year the Ben Nobleman gang will come to visit them in their own orchard in Scarborough as the group is considering planting a community orchard there.
Thanks for coming to help us!
Agincourt Community Services Association volunteers pose with Susan Poizner (front row) and Lynn Nicholas (back row – both in blue BNPCO t-shirts) in the Ben Nobleman Park Community Orchard in Toronto.
Many organic orchards install birdhouses to attract insect-eating birds like Eastern Bluebirds or Tree Swallows
Last year, we installed a reclaimed orchard birdhouse in Ben Nobleman Park. Our goal was to attract insect-eating birds to our orchard like Eastern Bluebirds or Tree Swallows. These birds eat thousands of insects each year, preventing the pesky ones from nibbling on the leaves and fruit of our fruit trees. Having a birdhouse in our orchard park seemed like a win-win situation. These birds get a safe home where they can lay their eggs and wait for them to hatch. And we get a free pest control team in our orchard!
Baby birds in their nest in Ben Nobleman Park Community Orchard
This year we finally have a new bird family in our orchard, but funnily enough, these little creatures were not born in our new birdhouse. They are baby Robins, born in a nest in one of Ben Nobleman Park Community Orchard’s plum trees and their mother chirps warnings from a nearby tree as curious visitors approach the nest. The baby birds are still in a vulnerable phase. They can’t yet fly and they rely on their mother to bring them worms to eat. Anyway, it’s a pleasure to peek at them from a distance until the little birds are old enough to fly out of their nest.
Mother bird chirps as we get closer to her babies. She built her nest in one of Ben Nobleman Park Community Orchard’s plum trees.
Other updates from the orchard? Our apple trees are doing well this year. Some of the younger ones are growing in leaps and bounds, showing that they are getting enough nutrition from the soil they are planted in. The cherries from our cherry trees disappeared again this year. The trees were stripped clean. There is a new walking path through our orchard park due to construction on the busy street to the north of the park and the path passes by our cherry trees, so we hope that passers by nibbled on the cherries as they ripened. We’re keeping an eye on our plum trees as one of them has shown signed of gummosis. This disease can be a big problem as you will learn from UrbanFruitTree.com’s soon to be posted “Preventing Pests and Disease in Your Fruit Trees” workshop.
In the meantime, let’s hope our new bird family stays safe and we also hope that next year a family of Eastern Bluebirds or Tree Swallows find our birdhouse! To make sure you stay updated, sign up for our joint mailing list with urbanfruittree.com by clicking here.
Red Poppy in Ben Nobleman Park Community Orchard’s Pollinator Garden
Blink…and it’s almost over. Poppies bloom for just a week or two in the late spring but when they do, they put on a spectacular show. And in Ben Nobleman Park Community Orchard, our beautiful red poppies signal the beginning of the busiest time in our orchard.
Now that the weather is getting warmer we’ll be out in the park at least twice a month, weeding in the pollinator garden and around our fruit trees, inspecting our trees for pests and disease and much more. Want to join our small group of volunteers? Just email Lynn and she will notify you when stewardship days are scheduled.
As for inspecting our trees for pest and disease problems, we have noticed something new (and we don’t much like it). Something is wrong with our cherry trees this year.
Problem in Cherry Tree.. Could it be a sign of bacterial canker? Photocredit: urbanfruittree.com
Some of the immature cherries are turning reddish and they’re not growing any longer. Others look like they’ve been eaten from the inside. And others look perfect. We are currently investigating and when we know, you can find out too by visiting The Urban Fruit Tree Online Education on the Fruit Tree Q&A page. Are you experiencing similar problems? Contact the team at urbanfruittree.com and they may feature your problem in an upcoming blog.