PERRYSBURG - When most people think of home gardens they look to the ground and the soil.
Fran Alexander also looks up at her fruit trees, especially her cherry trees which will produce a bountiful crop of deep red, sweet cherries.
Some time back the rural Perrysburg resident was not overjoyed with her yield.
Her yard also includes varieties of apple, pear, peach and plum trees.
One major reason, she was not spraying her trees.
"If you are thinking this spring about fresh juicy peaches, a crunchy apple or dark sweet cherries, now is the time to start spraying your fruit trees," Alexander says.
In fact, for most fruit trees, the time for the first spray may have passed. The prime time for the first spray is "when the first green buds begin to show."
Alexander, herself, confessed to missing that first prime spray this year.
"Ohio weather this year has brought us a damp, windy and wet spring. For many of us, it has been difficult to out to spray the trees at the right time," she stated.
However, she says if it is not too late to begin spraying.
Alexander recently completed her classes and passed her test to become certified as a Master Gardener. The only thing left for her is to complete her community service hours.
She indicated many people with fruit trees are reluctant to spray pesticides on them.
"It is a good practice," she claims. "It really increases all my yields."
The second time for spraying is the pre-bloom time when the buds begin to show their color but before they bloom.
After the blooms open, Alexander says do not spray.
"That is the time to protect the pollination," she stated, adding there are other products available which contain a fungicide to use during blossoming if disease control is needed.
After a week to 10 days after the blossoms have fallen, it is again an appropriate time to spray. This spray can be safely repeated every two weeks up until about three weeks prior to harvest.
Speaking of safety, Alexander cautions to follow the directions on the bottle, and be sure to wear protective attire including glasses and gloves.
"The bottle will give you all the instructions and precautions needed," Alexander stated, including first aid instructions should something occur.
Also be sure it is not windy. She indicates the wind should not be more than 10 mph.
In addition, make sure no people or pets come into contact with the spray until that area is completely dry.
The spray bottle and the spray can be purchased at most area nurseries or garden centers for roughly $25-30. An assortment of insecticide sprays are available, depending on your needs and usage.
She suggests for those just beginning with newly planted fruit trees, it usually takes three years before it will start to produce good fruit. The second year spraying can be done, but not as much as the five sprays you may provide a mature tree.
The spray can be used on strawberries and grapes as well as the apple, cherry and peach trees.
Alexander states that looking for, and dealing with pests is an important part of integrated plant management.
The two most important sprays are the first one as well as the first spray after the blooms fall off.
"Those are prime time for insects," she stated.
Although she says people should spray as needed if they see more disease or on the leaves.
"Check with a nursery if there are problems," Alexander advised.
Alexander also recommends putting netting over the trees to protect them from birds when the fruit appears.
"Especially the cherry trees," she said noting it also minimizes the fruit hitting each other on windy days and falling to the ground.
Alexander and others in her Master Gardener glass recently spent time sprucing up Bowling Green City Park. "It really needs a lot of work, that's why they need people like us to help."
(A video tip by Alexander showing her spraying her trees is available at www.sentinel-tribune.com.)