Babies Born in Ben Nobleman Orchard

 

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.

 


Poppies Pop and Cherries Drop In Ben Nobleman Park

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.


Mulching with Mihevc

Toronto City Councillor Joe Mihevc helps the volunteers of the Ben Nobleman Park Community Orchard amend the soil around the parks's fruit trees.

It’s late spring and the time to amend the soil is now, as our fruit trees need a boost of energy to grow well and produce a wonderful harvest for us during the growing season. And who better to mulch with than our fantastic city councillor, Joe Mihevc?

Earlier in the season, we called City of Toronto Parks Forestry and Recreation to find out if they could deliver some compost to Ben Nobleman Park for our fruit trees. We discovered that they no longer drop off compost to community groups for park use.

When Joe heard that we needed compost and a way to get it to our park,  he hooked a trailer onto his car and helped us fill it up at one of the Free Compost Days in our community. Then he helped the Ben Nobleman Park Community Orchard volunteers spread it around our beautiful fruit trees. Now that’s a city councillor who doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty!

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