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Wednesday, June 26, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Gardening: Spokane Edible Tree Project’s workshop series gets tree owners ready for annual gleaning

Julia Furlong, Kate Burke, Pat Munts and Kendra Dean helped glean apples from an old orchard at Episcopal Church of the Resurrection to feed the hungry in Spokane Valley, shown  Oct. 10, 2016. Registration is underway for the Spokane Edible Tree Project which helps glean berry bushes and fruit trees in local gardens to help supply food banks with fresh fruit. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
Julia Furlong, Kate Burke, Pat Munts and Kendra Dean helped glean apples from an old orchard at Episcopal Church of the Resurrection to feed the hungry in Spokane Valley, shown Oct. 10, 2016. Registration is underway for the Spokane Edible Tree Project which helps glean berry bushes and fruit trees in local gardens to help supply food banks with fresh fruit. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

The Spokane Edible Tree Project has gleaned over 100,000 pounds of apples, pears, plums, peaches, raspberries and blueberries from Spokane backyard trees since its inception in 2013. The fruit is donated to local food banks where it goes to people who couldn’t afford it otherwise. The group does this by registering home fruit trees and berry crops and then educating the tree owners how to care for their plants and harvest them at the right time.

Do you have a fruit tree you’d like to register? Would you like to learn more about caring for fruit trees? Now is the best time to get your trees registered and to get involved in the Edible Tree Project’s annual series of workshops, starting Feb. 24 with a fruit tree selection workshop, followed March 2 with a hands-on fruit tree pruning class at Resurrection Orchard in Spokane Valley.

The fruit tree selection class will help you identify the best type of tree for your yard including pollination needs of many trees. At the pruning workshop, certified arborists will train you to properly prune apple and pear trees including lots of hands-on practice. These two workshops will be followed in March and April with workshops on small fruit and berry selection, home orchard design, native pollinators and organic pest management.

Tree registration and a list of workshops and registration information are available at the Edible Tree Project’s website: https://bit.ly/2DxwaNc.

To produce well, fruit trees need to be pruned while they are dormant. Pruning removes broken, dead and crowded branches and opens the tree to light. Different trees need different styles of pruning, so you don’t cut off the fruit producing branches by mistake. Some trees grow fruit on new wood, others on second-year wood or fruit spurs. The hands-on pruning workshop will teach you the differences and give you a chance to practice under some professional arborists.

Fruit that is donated to food banks needs to be free of insect damage. This includes damage from codling moth and apple maggot in apples, cherry fruit fly in cherries and peach leaf curl in peaches. The organic pest management workshop on April 14 will go over identification of fruit tree pests and methods to control them. Some of the organic techniques include using mating disruptors to confuse the insects enough to reduce mating, using sticky traps to catch insects so you can determine when to spray and ways to track temperatures called degree days to determine when pests will hatch.

On March 16, the Edible Tree Project , the Lost Apple Project, WSU Extension and Resurrection Episcopal Church are partnering on a scion wood exchange and grafting workshop. Preregistration for the grafting workshop is required. Registration is available at https://bit.ly/2Ink4fp.

Winter is the best time to take cuttings, called scions, from desirable fruit trees and graft them onto new rootstocks to create new trees. The scion exchange on March 16 will have over 100 varieties of apple to choose from, and the grafting workshop will teach you how to put them together.

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