Patten Pear

Patten pears are larger and ripen a little later in the year

Summer is not gone yet! What can you start to do for garden cleanup? Weed removal is always on the list.

Any perennials with leaf issues or die back can be safely cut back. The later you can wait to cut back the better. But if you have a large perennial garden like mine, it takes nearly two weeks of work to get it all cut back and raked off. Every year I start earlier, with no suffrage to the garden.

You can also start pruning trees and shrubs. Excessive sucker growth is seen on trees this time of year. In the early stages it appears at the base or very near the base of a tree. The main tree can be young or old, but it happens more often with younger trees.

Suckers are off shoot stems of the tree and will typically be growing upright and straight with no side branches (unless 10 years old). Cut them off as low as you can when you see them appear. They are not a replacement for your main tree when it dies.

If you have overlooked this task for years, no worries — cut them off anyway. This may not be a one and done project, and suckers can be pruned any time of year. Tree damage from a storm or regular pruning of the tree can initiate sucker growth as the tree fights back to survive. As trees mature over the years it occurs less often.

Finally! The first pears in my orchard are ready to pick.

I tried one over the weekend and it was deeelicious! The two trees in my pear ‘orchard’ are Patten and Summercrisp. There aren’t many varieties of pear that are hardy to Minnesota.

Summercrisp is sweet and crispy — more apple like in texture. The Summer Crisp pear was developed at the University of Minnesota. This pear is picked when it is green with a red blush starting in mid-August. The texture is crisp like and apple — very sweet and juicy. These pears will store in your fridge for six to eight weeks.

Patten is a larger pear, ripening slightly later. Most pear trees need a cross pollinator, so check before you buy. Give pear trees about 25 feet of space from other trees for adequate airflow. I had noticed that wasps had dug a hole in some of the pears and were feasting away. But other than Fireblight, pears are relatively insect and disease free as compared to the many issues that apple trees have. Like any other tree, the planting hole is critical.

Plants should be installed at the same level they are in the container. Or if it is bare root woody plant, then the soil line should be at the crown — the junction where the roots and top growth meet. Planting too deep can cause the crown to rot, and planting too shallow can cause the root to dry out or freeze out over winter. Do not be confused by a bareroot tree that has been grafted – the graft union is not the crown.

Normally there will be some paint marks on the graft union, this is normal. The planting hole should be dug twice the size of the container or visual space of a bareroot plant. In this region many gardens and lawns have soil high in clay. Clay is even more difficult for roots to grow into, so mixing in some amendments like compost to the planting hole is beneficial. The plant will appreciate all the loose soil around the root ball to grow into.

Fall clean-up is critical to keep insect and disease issues at a minimum. All the fruit and leaves should be raked up and taken to the city compost site. As with your vegetable debris, the fruits and foliage will harbor these issues if left on site.

The Mankato Farmers’ Market is open for the season at the Best Buy parking lot on Adams Street on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon. You can also follow the Mankato Farmers’ Market information on our Facebook page, as well as my Facebook page – Market Bakery.

To respect everyone’s health, and ensure that the market can stay open, please do the following if you plan to shop.

• Stay home if you are sick

• Send only one healthy family member to shop

• Keep a 6 foot distance from others — don’t mingle

• Make a list to expedite your shopping trip

• Wash your hands often, stations will be set up

• No onsite consumption of food

-Shop with your eyes, vendors will handle items

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