Did you see the soccer game last Sunday morning? The USA versus the Netherlands. The score 2 to 0. The 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup champion is the USA! Hooray!

Did you see the soccer game last Sunday morning? The USA versus the Netherlands. The score 2 to 0. The 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup champion is the USA! Hooray!

The wren was long gone, so I thought. For one week I vigilantly kept watch on the compact nest that had magically appeared on top of the sponge mop propped against the brick wall by the back door. No activity whatsoever, so I removed the nest and used the mop. Next week, another nest appeared on top of the inverted broom resting by the mop. It was narrow and the opening extended downward, but where was the bird? I quietly entered and exited the back door and let the rusty Bradford pear leaves pile into wind-swept mounds across the patio for days.

Banner year for the Asian (or European) Pear Rust. The fungi is related the cedar apple rust but idolizes ornamental pears. Two plant hosts, redcedars (Junipers) and Bradfords (pears), share different stages of fungal spores. The redcedars aren’t fazed, but the Bradfords continue to lose leaves every day. At this rate, I won’t have to worry about fall color or raking leaves when autumn comes.

Time to sweep. Grabbing the indoor broom, I walked to the patio but thought to first check the nest before leaf removal. I peered deep inside. An angry stern-faced wren stared right back at me. Okay. My broom and I slowly backed away and walked into the house. She probably holds it against me for getting rid of her first nest.

The wildlife continue to surprise me, this time from inside my house. As I searched for a tube of toothpaste under the sink, I looked over at the lint roller. Something was weird. Usually reserved for cat hair, the sticky paper had long bristles. I lifted the roller into the daylight. Four camel crickets were adhered to the tacky surface. Two were still alive. How long had they been there? I carried all outside and with a sharp knife quickly broke the seal between the paper and the cricket feet.

Camel crickets have provided entertainment for Cleo the spotted feline huntress. She enjoys chasing the large, hump-backed insects through the house at night. In the morning her success is represented by a large hind leg left on the floor. How they get in is still a mystery, but I have caught one in the bathtub and a few bounding down the hall.

Sprickets are what some call these crickets. Spider crickets. The camel crickets are fairly large with long legs and hop in great leaps while trying to get away or in search for food, shelter or mates. The “Infinite Spider Blog” states your house can become party central, especially if it has a basement. Mine doesn’t, so I attribute having the frequent visitors to the wet spring and summer.

Feeling good about saving two critters, I decided to tackle my closet. The goal was to reach the clothes at the far end of the rod. The path was blocked by stacks of t-shirts, sweat shirts and small boxes. Half-way through the clearance, a plastic-wrapped package was discovered. What was this?

I carried the mysterious bundle down the hall and placed the object on the dining room table. Eyeing it suspiciously, I carefully removed three layers of plastic, expecting the worst. The final white layer was parchment paper which surrounded a stained fabric. Inside laid the remains of….. a fruitcake? From what century I do not know, but not one speck of mold could be seen. Johnnie Walker whisky had done an excellent job. The ancient cake was tasted. The flavor was so-so, the nuts were not-not. Bird food.

The Oklahoma peach crop survived this spring and some varieties are ripe and ready. Originally from China, the peach tree (Prunus persica) grows in a limited range and requires a winter chilling period, extra nitrogen, full sun and regular applications of water with more before harvest. Peach crops are, at best, a crap shoot at my house. Either the weather or the wildlife get the peaches before I do. My dad raised peaches in southeast Oklahoma, not exactly peach country. So much work for so little, but it kept him busy spraying, watering and cursing the weather.

The Redhaven peach is the harvest standard to which all other peaches are compared. At the Perkins Cimarron Valley Research Station, the average date for ripe Redhavens is July 12-16. This may vary 2 to 5 days to the south (earlier) or the north (later). Loring and Biscoe varieties ripen weeks before Redhavens. When considering the type of peach tree to plant, ripening date is just one of the criteria. Resistance to Bacterial Leaf Spot (BLS), flesh color (yellow or white), flesh adherence (freestone, cling or semi), fruit quality (3 is average), fruit size and cold tolerance are all listed on OSU Fact Sheet HLA-6210 Apple and Peach Varieties for Oklahoma.

For dependable fruit production, most peach trees have been budded or grafted onto other robust rootstocks. Rootstocks not only determine the size of the tree, but the vigor, type of soil tolerated and anchorage. In Oklahoma the best rootstocks are Lovell, Halford and Guardian. Guardian trials began in 1989 in an effort to halt Peach Tree Short Life disease caused by the ring nematode. Guardian is somewhat cold-hardy but hates being water-logged. Guardian rootstock peaches were released to nurseries in 1993.

Both Lovell and Halford rootstocks are susceptible to root-knot nematodes. Lovell can better handle wet conditions. Halford struggles with water issues and is susceptible to Armillaria, a root-penetrating fungi that produces cute honey colored mushrooms. Armillaria wiped out many early Oklahoma orchards.

Two weeks ago, I ate my way through a peck of Porter peaches. The Livesay family operate both Peach Barn and Bakery as well as Livesay Orchards. The 53rd annual Porter Festival begins July 18th and ends the 20th. Art, music, cars, a 5K run and all things peachy can be found. Come see Miss Peach and Miss Peach Bud!

This is a good peach year. Last year Texas peaches were imported for the festival to compensate for the nearly total loss of peaches due to a late frost. Porter is about 120 miles by car northeast of Shawnee.

Or, on July 20th drive to Stratford, 40 miles south of Shawnee, to enjoy the 43rd annual Stratford Peach Festival. One full day of peaches, games, and extensive car/truck show. Seven orchards will be there including Stratford Pullen Peaches, Peach Crest Farms, SonRise Peach Farm, Sunrise Peach Farms and Peachtree Farms.

Earlier this week we visited Peachtree Farms outside Ada and brought home ripe peaches and a peach milkshake. Yum-yum.

Becky Emerson Carlberg, graduate of Oklahoma State (Plant Pathology) is a teacher, artist, writer as well as certified Oklahoma Master Gardener and Master Naturalist. Contact her at Becscience@att.net.