The Richmond Register

October 29, 2013

Growing apples in your backyard

By Amanda Sears
Extension Agent

MADISON COUNTY — Apple trees are popular additions to home landscapes because of their fruit production. However, many home gardeners are not prepared for the onslaught of diseases that bombard the trees every year. To minimize risk of disease and reduce reliance on preventative fungicide applications, home gardeners may consider selecting disease resistant cultivars, said Nicole Ward Gauthier, extension plant pathologist with the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment.

 Some of the most destructive diseases affecting apples include fire blight, apple scab, cedar apple rust and powdery mildew. Fire blight and cedar apple rust are the most prevalent. Fire blight causes twig and branch dieback, which can result in death of the entire tree within two to three years. Cedar apple rust causes leaf drop and fruit infections. Infected fruit are inedible, and leaf drop for three years in a row may stress a tree to the point of death.

 “It is safe to say that nearly every homeowner will see some damage from those two diseases on a regular basis,” Gauthier said. “In years with warm, rainy springs, trees can become severely damaged.”

 Selection of disease-resistant apple cultivars will provide some disease resistance in Kentucky. Gauthier recommends the varieties called Enterprise, Liberty, Priscilla and Winecrisp. For more information on growing apples, check out these websites or contact the Madison County Cooperative Extension Office at 859-623-4072 or email me at

 While many of the recommended cultivars are disease resistant, they have little resistance to insects. Home gardeners wanting to minimize insecticide applications may want to bag individual fruit when they are roughly an inch in diameter. To read more about bagging fruit, go to

Grow your own microgreens

Bring a little of the outdoors in this winter while learning a low cost way to grow your own microgreens! This class will be offered on Monday, Nov. 11 from noon to 1 p.m. at the Madison County Cooperative Extension Office on Duncannon Lane in Richmond.

 Microgreens are young seedlings that are harvested just after their first true leaves begin to develop, and can add beauty, freshness, and distinctive flavors to any dish. Even those of us without the greenest of thumbs can produce these young edible greens, so come out and see what they are all about. Call to register, 859-623-4072.

 Educational programs of the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability or national origin.