Thirty-one gardeners attended the March Master Gardener past-president lecture series talk on fruits and berries on March 18 at the Mendenhall Valley library. Ed Buyarski, past-president and multi-term board member, addressed the crowd and answered questions until after 9 p.m.
Discussed was selecting varieties for trees and rootstalks, as some do better than others in Juneau. Success also varies widely by neighborhood depending on daylight, moisture, wind and proximity to the glacier.
The group reviewed the importance of pruning plants for best light, moisture, evaporation, fruit production, ease of harvest (and even using the parts you cut off to make more plants!)
Buyarski lectured on soil composition in detail. Most fruits and berries that do well here prefer acidic soil. He compared giving plants room to grow and a good habitat so they "leave home" to similar advice that parents could use for teenagers.
Insect and pest control was probably the most useful subject for attendees. Insects are a necessary evil (pollination) but the wrong bug at the wrong time can cause serious problems. Larger pests, such as bears, deer and porcupine were talked about as well. Solutions, including electric fencing, loosely strung gillnet, soap, hot pepper wax, were discussed. Slugs were a popular subject and people enjoyed sharing their solutions to the problem. Pollination is all about timing. Attracting and keeping the pollinators in your area is a challenge and they learned that Alaska bees burrow in the ground!
Buyarski stressed that he didn't memorize pesticide use guidelines - on purpose. That way he had to read the label each time he uses a product. This is a good habit for all of us. He recommended neighborhoods working together to time pesticide application for the best results.