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Grassroots Graton - Autumn 2015


Grassroots Graton - Autumn 2015

by Heather Granahan

Fire Blight in the ‘hood!

Warm enough for you lately? Even a bit humid, hmmm? In fact, think back – it wasn’t the coldest winter, none of our famous Graton low temperatures. Although easy on the pipes, it all has added up to a perfect storm for some of our trees. Like my pear tree. And my neighbor’s – and quite a few across town.

If you have seen brown, dried spurs of leaves on your pear, apple, quince, crabapple, ash and a few other varieties, do not assume that it’s just dried up from our terrible drought conditions. Graton is now sadly sharing in an epidemic that has been sweeping Northern California since Spring: fire blight. It’s a pretty horrible wave of destruction in Napa and Sonoma counties, according to some arborists. This is a nasty beast that can destroy branches and entire trees – especially flowering pears (which are in the Rosaceae family). Like a fish going bad, this disease moves from the branches down.

Far from an X-Men superpower that it sounds like (or X-Woman or X- Tribe – why the gender label when some of the coolest powers are wielded by hotties like Storm? But I digress). Fire blight is common but requires a perfect mix of 1. vulnerable plant varieties, 2. frost-free winters followed by a humid spring with 65- to 70-degree temperatures during bloom and bud-set, with a few light rains sprinkled in. Sound familiar? Think back a couple of months. The final ingredient in this mean mix is the bacterium Erwinia amylovora, and yes, trees are more susceptible when stressed by drought.

So what to do? As the bacteria percolate in lesions on the branches and even healthy leaves and branches, you can battle by scraping of the blisters and pruning off all affected branches with a 9-12” margin. This can really be a radical haircut for a tree – and it is less likely to kill an apple tree – but it can really spread. Some people say to sterilize the tools you use, others say you don’t need to in the dormant phase, and other researchers have been unable to make cause infection with repeated use of unsterilized tools. There is a whole retinue of other treatments to keep at bay; dormant copper sprays and a lot more. An arborist would be a great ally. Or take the poor ill trees out if you have to. A resistant replacement might be a Shinko Asian pear. Something to think about. UC Davis is a great resource.

And We Nominate:

For Best New Photo Op/posing spot in Graton: the new Purple Wine and Spirit sign, flanked by a magnificent statue of a pirate with treasure chest and parrot that has the signature handiwork of Patrick Amiot and Brigitte Laurent, our local found-object sculptors. Go check this big installation out, it’s a beaut! 

Box it!

Lest you think that the Graton art scene is all highbrow and seriousness – I heard a rumor that the Graton Gallery is having a cigar box show thus month. If you are very inspired (and rapidly productive), you can still submit a work based on a cigar box by August 10th. Entry fee for this juried show is $15. And if you need one, they may still have a box for you to base a creation on/in. 

Don’t Sink Graton

...under the weight of all your saved receipts and files. My experiments with dissolving these unwanted but sensitive docs in water didn’t process enough quickly enough, but led to a weird soup that turned out to be a really great snail trap. Who knew.

If you are a dedicated reader and picked this up on August 1st, it’s not too late to get down today to the annual Shred-a-thon at the Redwood Credit Union HQ on Cleveland Ave in Santa Rosa with three bankers boxes and get shredded. Its 9:00-12:30, and any fivers or food staples collected will be donated to the Redwood Empire Food Bank. If you miss this one, well, you’ll have to wait until October and drive to Ukiah – or use the docs to make some great soupy snail traps to set out under those browning trees, between the mounds of gophers ferociously seeking any patch of damp earth.