What Is Sooty Blotch?
So what is sooty blotch?
It’s a fungus that grows on apples and other fruit trees. It causes red spots or “blots” on the skin of the apple tree, which are not visible from outside. Sometimes it affects only one side of the apple tree, sometimes it spreads over all sides of the tree.
The fungus is usually found on older trees with many branches. So if you have a large apple tree, chances are there will be lots of old, diseased branches. If the disease is severe enough, it may affect the whole tree and even kill it. There are two main types of sooty blotch: white and black. White sooty blotches appear when the spores mature inside the fruit.
Black sooty blotches appear when the spores mature inside the bark. Both types cause similar symptoms, but they look different.
Sooty blots can spread through wind and water. They don’t seem to infect new trees, though some older ones may become infected because their roots get wet from rain or irrigation. Some people think that sooty blotch might be related to anthracnose (a fungal infection on apple trees). Even though the fungus that causes sooty blotch might be related to other apple tree fungal infections, it’s not contagious.
How To Tell If Your Apple Tree Has Sooty Blotch
If you’re an experienced gardener, you’ll probably notice that something is wrong with your tree long before it becomes a problem. Look for:
Brown or gray marks on the leaves.
Seedlings (baby apples) that fail to grow. The leafs might appear healthy, but no apples grow.
Soft spots on the trunk or larger branches of the tree.
Swelling or bumps around the trunk or large limbs of the tree.
Black, white, or red specks on the skin of the apple tree. Sometimes you can see them clearly, sometimes you can’t.
How To Get Rid Of Sooty Blotch
If your tree has sooty blotch, don’t worry. It doesn’t mean you have to get rid of it. Over time (and with some careful maintenance), most trees can become resistant to the fungus and stop spreading it. Usually, the biggest problem is if you grow a variety of apple tree that’s particularly susceptible to sooty blotch. The best thing to do is to wait until harvest time and pick off infected apples.
You can also try rinsing them under running water if you want to be really safe about it.
If you’re only growing one type of apple tree, just pick off all infected apples when they appear. That way the fungus won’t spread as quickly. If it spreads to other trees, from the infected branches to the healthy ones, you might have to take more drastic measures.
If you have to take extreme measures with your tree, you can cut off infected parts of the tree. Cut them off right at soil level to help prevent the spread of the disease. All apples that have sooty blotches should also be removed from the orchard as well. If you have to remove more than a third of the tree, it might be better to just start over with a new one.
Pruning can be a little tricky, since you don’t want to spread the disease throughout your orchard. You should wear protective clothing and wash your tools with a 10% bleach solution afterward. Sooty blotch spreads through all types of transmission, so be careful what you touch with an infected tool. Fungicides also don’t work on sooty blotch, since the fungus is inside the tree rather than on its surface.
Caring for Your Apple Tree
If you want to grow the best apples, you need to make sure that your tree is getting everything it needs. You should feed it regularly with a well-balanced fertilizer and keep the soil around the roots moist. Even if the rest of your yard is on the dry side, your apple tree should have consistently moist soil. This will promote root growth and help the tree grow strong. Your soil should also be slightly acidic (between 5.5 and 6.5 on the scale) so add powdered limestone to your soil if it needs it.
While your apple tree might only grow to be 15 or 20 feet tall, its roots can stretch out much farther. The roots can reach eight times the height of the tree. That’s a big area, so you shouldn’t plant anything else where you’re going to plant the tree. You should also keep any potential weed and grass growth away from the area.
If you want to take steps to protect your trees from pests, you should plant marigolds and alyssum (both flowers) around your trees. They don’t really do much to keep pests away, but they do give a nice display when the flowers bloom.
Most importantly, you should practice crop rotation. Don’t just plant one type of tree in the same place each year. Instead, alternate between different types of trees (or the same type, if you want to keep them together). Every five or six years, leave that area alone as a break.
Apple care is fairly easy. If you want to take the most basic approach, all you have to do is water your tree and keep weeds away from the base. If you want to be a little more involved, there are a few other steps you can take.
When you first plant your tree, spread a thick layer of mulch around the base (at least two inches). This will help keep weeds away and hold in moisture. It can also prevent stem rot if it’s applied thick enough.
Watering once a week is usually sufficient, since most rainfall should be enough to keep the tree going. It’s a good idea to give the tree a deep watering at least once a month, though. This will ensure that the soil keeps loose enough that the tree can draw what it needs when it needs it.
Most apple trees don’t produce fruit for a couple of years after they’re planted, so you’ll have to be patient if you want apples straight away. Most produce fruit in their third year, but some keep growing for five years before producing fruit.
Once your tree does start producing apples, you’ll have a long picking season. This can last from early May to the beginning of July. Keep an eye on your mature trees once they start putting out fruit. It only takes one hapless bird to come along and eat a few rotten apples and decide to nest in your tree to cause damage.
The vast majority of fruit trees you find for sale will be grafted. This means that the rootstock of one tree has been spliced to the stem and foliage of another. It’s a complicated process and not something that can easily be done by hand, so most nurseries simply use specialized machinery that does it automatically.
Grafting has been done for centuries to produce strong, disease-resistant trees that produce consistent crops. It’s also a method of vegetatively propagation, which allows you to easily grow duplicates of favored types of trees.
Most nurseries will have at least a few varieties of grafted trees on sale. The types of trees you find for sale will vary by location, but most places will have a few favorites that do well everywhere. These are usually apples, pears, peaches, plums, and cherries.
Most nurseries will have at least a few varieties of grafted fruit trees on sale.
Some nurseries won’t prune their trees at all, since they sell them young and growers can easily do the pruning themselves. Even if the nursery does prune their trees, they may not do a very good job of it. It’s important that you learn how to prune your trees well if you want them to produce good fruit.
Pruning is usually done in the winter or early spring before the tree starts budding. The goal is to cut out all the weak, diseased, and dead wood while opening up the center of the tree to let in light. You also need to cut out any crossing or looping branches and thin out the center to let air reach the inner branches.
It’s important to know that trees can generate new buds along most any part of their wood. This allows you to prune your tree fairly severely without worrying about it dying. However, you should always wait a few years between heavy pruning to allow the tree to recover.
A small amount of pruning is recommended to remove dead wood or branches that are growing in the wrong direction.
Always be careful when pruning. It’s very easy to injure yourself using hand tools at heights. If you’re not sure how to prune a particular tree, seek out professional advice before you attempt it.
Most nurseries will carry a wide variety of shrubs for sale. These are often used to beautify your property and give it a nice color display throughout the year. Most nurseries will specialize in a few types of shrubs, which they grow on their own property, but they usually have a list of different varieties that they can get for you if you don’t see what you want on their land.
Shrubs are usually planted in groups rather than alone. This is because most shrubs are taller than they are wide, so they look best when used to form a back drop behind other plants that fill in the space. There are so many different types of shrubs you can grow that there is surely something to match just about any landscape situation you can think of.
Some nurseries will also sell small fruits, which they grow on their own property. These are most often blueberries and raspberries, but others do exist.
Nurseries only sell plants, soil, and other gardening supplies. They do not sell seeds. These must be purchased from a seed store or online.
Some nurseries also sell trees, which have been grown elsewhere and then transplanted to their lot. These tend to be large specimens that are too big for the average homeowner to handle, so most people don’t buy them.
Nurseries are great places to get advice from people who actually know about plants, but be warned: they aren’t the best source of information on anything else. Their advice on gardening is usually sound, but when it comes to issues outside of their expertise, they tend to say some pretty silly things.
Nurseries tend to be very crowded all the time as people go there to buy plants, but this doesn’t mean you can just go digging around in their soil. They only sell small packets of soil that you can get at any nursery. If you need more soil, buy it or take some from another place.
If you’re new to gardening and don’t know what types of plants you would like to grow, visit the nurseries to see what catches your interest. Some people like to pick things based on their name, while others like to find ones that will attract butterflies.
If you don’t have a car, some nurseries do offer limited bus routes to and from their nurseries. Be prepared to wait for the bus, though, as it only comes a few times a day. Some also offer limited routes for customers to travel to and from the nursery on weekends or evenings.
In general, if you have a car and live within a reasonable distance (say, under forty-five minutes), it’s usually cheaper and easier to go there yourself. If you don’t have a car or the nursery is very far away (over an hour’s drive), it may be worth your time to check if they offer any bus routes.
A nursery is not a place to go if you’re in a hurry. The staff really doesn’t like it when people try to rush them. So, don’t do it. Just be patient and you’ll get the best possible advice.
When you get to the nursery, don’t expect to be able to just go digging around in their soil. Most nurseries sell small bags of soil that you can take home. If you need more, buy it or take some from another place. Never just take it from the pot as this can kill the plant.
A nice way to look for new plants is by walking along the pathway that runs through the nursery. Most nurseries have a central pathway that is lined on both sides by flowers. Most plants are different from the ones you can find at a garden center or nursery, so this is a great way to discover something new.
Some nurseries are really big and have many different areas, while others are specialized in only one type of plant (like azaleas or cactii). Take the time to explore and see what you can find.
One of the best things about visiting a nursery is getting to talk to the staff. They are trained to help you pick out the right plant for your needs and answer any questions that you might have. Listen to their advice as they have been helping people for years and their advice is invaluable.
A nursery is a great place to spend a Saturday afternoon. Whether you want to buy a rose for your mother or look for something to add color to your yard, going to see the plants up close can really give you a new appreciation for all the varieties that are available.
The nursery staff is always willing to help, so if you don’t know what type of plant you’re looking for, be sure to stop and ask. They love answering questions as it allows them to share their love of plants with others.
The next time you need to go buy some flowers, visit a nursery instead. You’ll be surprised at how many different types of plants they have available. Who knows, you may even find your new favorite plant.
What else should I know about nurseries?
Some nurseries only sell plants and others are also garden centers. Know what you’re looking for before you go to make things easier.
Nurseries can also be an amazing place to look for unique gifts. They tend to carry items that are a little bit different and can really make an impression. If you need a gift for your mom, your boss or anyone else, check out a nursery first.
Nurseries are not just for plant lovers. Even if you don’t like plants, you’ll enjoy a nursery as most have items other than plants available for sale. It’s like going to a candy store for adults!
Most nurseries will have a section dedicated to educational needs. These sections are there to help you learn more about plants and flowers so that you can pass that knowledge on to others. If you have kids, bring them with you as there is a good chance they’ll learn something.
With all the different types of plants available, it can be hard to know where to begin when decorating your yard or home. Nurseries can help with this, as they have people on staff who can give you tips and ideas to make your space more beautiful.
Before you buy a plant, it’s always a good idea to ask the nursery staff if there is anything special you need to know about that specific type of plant. This is especially important if you have pets or small children as some plants are toxic.
Most nurseries will have seeds for things like flowers and vegetables so that you can grow your own plants at home. They also stock large containers to put the seeds in before you plant them in your yard or home.
Most nurseries are open all year round, but they do take weekly breaks where they close for a few days. Make sure you check before you go.
When you’re at the nursery, be sure to take advantage of all their free advice. These people have spent their lives growing plants so they are full of great ideas and tips to help you.
If you’re looking for more exotic plants, it would be best to go online or look in a gardening magazine as nurseries tend to stock more common plants that people are more likely to buy.
Before you leave, be sure to take advantage of their free samples. You never know when they’ll run out so it’s always best to take some when you have the chance.
If you don’t have a green thumb, don’t worry as there are plenty of plants at the nursery that are hardy and can withstand being killed by accidental neglect. They might not look as pretty, but at least they won’t die.
If you need to buy a gift for someone who loves plants, a gift card from a nursery would be ideal. They can pick out whatever they want and you don’t have to worry about buying the wrong thing.
When you’re at the nursery, take some time to look around and just enjoy their selection. Who knows, you may find something you didn’t expect to like or discover a new hobby.
If you want to buy flowers for your sweetheart, it’s always best to get them from a nursery. Not only can you guarantee the freshness, but you can also ask the staff to pick out the freshest and most beautiful for you.
If there are any professionals in your life, such as doctors or lawyers or someone else who likes to garden, nursery gift cards are always a great choice for a gift. They provide everything they need and more.
If you’re looking to get a plant but on a budget, ask at the counter if they have any plants that are dying or just been overgrown that they need to dispose of. They will sell them to you for cheap or even give them away for free. You just have to take them home and water them.
If you’re still not sure what kind of plant you want, just tell one of the nursery workers what kind of setting you want the plant to be in.
Do you want it to be in your bedroom, near a window, or somewhere else?
From there, they can suggest types of plants that would fit those settings.
Once you know what kind of plant you want and where you want to put it, the nursery worker can give you general advice on how to take care of it. They can also recommend certain brands of soil and fertilizer that work well with the type of plant you’re growing. They can even give you some free seeds to try if you ask.
Now that you know exactly what you’re getting, it’s time to make your purchase. If you don’t have a vehicle, make sure they package it for you in such a way that it won’t get too damaged during transit.
Whether you drive or have others help you, be sure to shake the plants around and get them used to being moved around before you leave the store. This will prevent them from being shaken too much and possibly hurting the plant later.
Once you get it home, it would be best to water it right away. The workers at the nursery should have told you what kind of environment it is used to so you can properly hydrate it. Be sure to follow those instructions as the wrong thing done can cause the whole plant to die.
Enjoy your new plant!
Remember to always take free pamphlets! They almost always have really good tips on taking care of the plants they sell.
Prevention is key. Even if you think a plant is dead, there’s a chance it can be saved. Take it up to a nursery worker and ask their advice. They’ll know for sure if it can be saved or not.
Watering cans are cheap and plastic so they’re great because they won’t rust like metal cans do.
There are a lot of books and websites on plant care. Buy a few for yourself to have around just in case you need to look something up in the future.
Workers at nurseries love their job and will be happy to answer any question you have. Don’t be afraid to ask them questions, even if you think you should know the answer, they’ll still be impressed that you’re actually taking an interest in the topic.
Don’t be afraid to fail. Even the biggest gardeners had failures along the way. That’s how they learned what works and what doesn’t so you should learn from their example.
The most important thing is to have fun. Gardening is a fun hobby and you should enjoy it as such. If you ever find that it’s not fun for you anymore, take a break from it for a while. You will always come back to it later on.
And that’s all I have to say on the topic. Good luck on your adventures!
Written by Zee Wolfblood of the Daggermark Herald
Chapter 1: The Inn
You have inherited the family inn and currently live there with your mother. It’s a large building, one of the bigger ones in the town, but it’s still only an inn. Your mother manages most of the day to day stuff there, so you’re not swamped with work. You live in the rooms behind the bar, as you’ve always done.
Your mother didn’t have any other children that survived past birth, just you. Her husband, your father, died when you were very young. You have a hard time remembering his face, but you have a few good memories of him.
The inn is called the Traveler’s Inn, and it’s located at the edge of town near the old mine that was abandoned when the veins dried up decades ago. The town has been slowly dying ever since, and most of the people who once lived here eventually left to seek their fortune in other places.
Sources & references used in this article:
Relationship Between Apple Fruit Epicuticular Wax and Growth of Peltaster fructicola and Leptodontidium elatius, Two Fungi that Cause Sooty Blotch Disease by RD Belding, TB Sutton, SM Blankenship… – Plant …, 2000 – Am Phytopath Society
Sooty blotch and flyspeck of apple: etiology, biology, and control by SM Williamson, TB Sutton – Plant Disease, 2000 – Am Phytopath Society
Microcyclospora and Microcyclosporella: novel genera accommodating epiphytic fungi causing sooty blotch on apple by J Frank, PW Crous, JZ Groenewald… – … and Evolution of …, 2010 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
A new view of sooty blotch and flyspeck by ML Gleason, JC Batzer, G Sun, R Zhang… – Plant …, 2011 – Am Phytopath Society
Sensitivity of newly identified clades in the sooty blotch and flyspeck complex on apple to thiophanate-methyl and ziram by T Tarnowski, J Batzer, M Gleason… – Plant Health …, 2003 – Am Phytopath Society
A decision analytic model for chemical control of sooty blotch and flyspeck diseases of apple by HJ Gold, TB Sutton – Agricultural Systems, 1986 – Elsevier
Efficacy of Armicarb (potassium bicarbonate) against scab and sooty blotch on apples by L Tamm, T Amsler, H Schaerer… – ecofruit-12th International …, 2006 – orgprints.org