July 25, 2015

1 - There is a simple trick to determine if pears are mature and ready to pick.

2 - Wildflower seeds can be planted as the seeds mature or stored to plant later.

Yard and Garden July 25, 2015

Q. #1

The pears on my pear tree are small, but turning red on one side. They are still pretty hard. Are they ripe? I do not remember what variety of pear I am growing.

-Earl A.

Albuquerque

A. #1

Pears (except Asian pears) are different from many other fruits. By the time they ripen on the tree, they are overripe. The center ripens first while the outside is still hard. Picking them and storing them indoors for a few days allow them to ripen properly.

An interesting and usually successful way to determine if they are ripe is to hold the fruit and then lift it upward toward the branch to which it is attached. If the pear separates easily from the branch, it is mature. The peduncle (stalk attaching the pear to the branch) forms an abscission layer at the point of attachment to the branch as the fruit matures. The abscission layer that forms allows the fruit of pears to drop after they have ripened (over ripened). By exploiting this abscission layer you can harvest the pears at the proper stage and let them soften by storing them indoors. Check them periodically by tasting them to see when they are at their peak of ripeness.

Also look to see if your pears have been invaded by codling moth larvae (the worms that form inside apples and pears). If codling moths are present, they may cause early ripening and fruit drop.

Q. #2
My wildflowers are flowering now and some of them have seed ripening on them. Can I plant these seed in my garden now?

-Mary E.

A. #2

Since the time the seed get planted naturally is when they ripen and fall to the ground, now is a good time to collect these seed and replant. Of course, you can save them to plant later.

Seeds of some wildflowers need to dry naturally for a few weeks before they are ready to germinate. Some seed will need to go through the cold weather of winter before they germinate; and some will germinate fairly soon and the plants will grow through the fall and begin growth again in the spring. In each case, seed that normally just fall to the ground can be planted now and benefit from the monsoon moisture. A hazard with planting now is that birds and insects may eat the seeds or environmental factors may cause some of the seeds to die, but in the case of native plants (native in your location) some will probably survive and grow to provide flowers next year. If you choose to save the seeds, you will need to research the species and determine if they need winter chilling and must be planted in the fall, or if they can be planted next spring.

Marisa Y. Thompson, PhD, is the Extension Horticulture Specialist, in the Department of Extension Plant Sciences at the New Mexico State University Los Lunas Agricultural Science Center, email: desertblooms@nmsu.edu, office: 505-865-7340, ext. 113.

Links:

For more gardening information, visit the NMSU Extension Horticulture page at Desert Blooms.

Send gardening questions to Southwest Yard and Garden - Attn: Dr. Marisa Thompson at desertblooms@nmsu.edu, or at the Desert Blooms Facebook page.

Please copy your County Extension Agent and indicate your county of residence when you submit your question!