Gardentalk – How to thin out apples and veggies, and when to pick peonies

Apples
This locally grown apple tree has already been thinned of extra fruit. (Photo courtesy Ed Buyarski)

It may seem a little counter-intuitive at first. But you have to get rid of some apples now to get bigger and better tasting ones at the end of the season.

Master Gardener Ed Buyarski says gardeners should thin out clusters of four or five apples to a reasonable leaf-to-apple ratio.

“Somebody who’s being really obsessive, they say forty leaves to one fruit,’ Buyarski said.

He prefers leaving one per cluster so that the remaining apples are spaced out along a branch.

Thinning apples will allow more color and sugars to develop in the remaining fruit. It will also extend the life of the tree because it removes extra weight that could break limbs and branches.

Any scabby or wormy apples should be thrown in the garbage, not in the compost.

Buyarski is also thinning out beets and carrots to about an inch apart before starting with mid-season planting. It’s also time to start planting  lettuce, radish and turnips seeds.

Peony flowers and stems should be picked before they bloom. For proper timing, Buyarski says buds should feel like a marshmallow just before all the flower petals open up. This way, peonies will last much longer than if you waited for the flowers to fully open before picking them.

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