Just Peachy!

CLC Tree Services is located in London, Ontario, deep in the heart of Southwestern Ontario. We are surrounded by the Great Lakes, which makes for hot and humid summers, and cold and snowy winters. While you might hear locals moan about the widely contrasting seasons, they do make for perfect growing conditions for the far-reaching farmland which surrounds us.

Image Source; Brian at StockVault.net

Peach Season is Here!

One of the juicy and delicious crops which is just about ready, is prevalent in the nearby Niagara peninsula, but can be found at plenty of farmer’s markets within London’s bounds. Of course I am referring to Prunus persica or the humble peach. Peaches are native to China, but have been a favourite stone fruit crop in Ontario since the 1880s. The deciduous trees are in the same family (Rosaece) as cherries and plums, the same subgenus (Amygdalus) as almonds, and are considered the same species as nectarines, their fuzz-less cousin. Blame it on a recessive allele, but outside of commercial growers and discerning fruit lovers, you are looking at virtually the same tree.

Peach tree

Peach tree

So what do those trees look like? Peach trees grow 3-5 metres tall and require full sun. They need well-drained soil and nitrogen-rich fertilizer to flourish. A peach tree’s leaves are long and narrow, with straight pinnate veins, and fine teeth along its length. Trees flower in early spring before the leaves unfurl. Fruit is not produced until the third year, but good news is that the trees are self-pollinating, therefore a single tree will net you a bumper crop in no time. Once your tree does start producing, it needs to be thinned in the spring to prevent underdeveloped fruit or branches being snapped off due to excessive weight from them. The care is worth it.

Image Source; lusi at rgbstock.com

Source of niacin, potassium, dietary fibre and vitamin A, C, E, peaches make a nutritious and delicious snack

Now for the good stuff. The fruit of the peach tree has flesh ranging from yellow to white. It is sweet and firm, and juicy as all get out when they are ripe. There is a large woody pit in the centre of the fruit, which if eaten in large enough quantities can be harmful, due to the presence of cyanogenic glucoside (could break down into hydrogen cyanide gas – not good!). Who would want to eat the pit though with the tender flesh being so delicious! Peaches make for great pies, cobblers, jams, plus are excellent grilled, canned or poached. They are full of vitamin C, but a single peach claims only 37 calories to your daily intake.

If you are thinking about trying your hand at growing your own tree, some of the varieties available are;

- Harrow Diamond, Garnet Beauty, Redhaven, Reliance*, Harken, Vivid, Harrow Fair™ , Harrow Beauty, Loring, Vollie™, Cresthaven ◊

 ◊ Cultivars available as per Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs website - http://ow.ly/zeQzl

The only downfall of heavenly peaches are that they continue to ripen once picked, therefore need to be eaten with a few days of being picked, trees only live from 10 to 20 years, they are susceptible to leaf curl, brown rot, and a variety of moths and mites, but worst of all, peaches are only available fresh from July through September. They will be available soon at farmer’s markets across Southern Ontario, so start gathering your recipes!

Incidentally, of the two categories of peaches, in freestones the flesh comes easily away from the pit, while clingstones the flesh slings tightly. Which are your favourite?

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Burn, Baby Burn

Campfire burning bright

Campfire burning bright

Summertime; it puts me in mind of hot days, cool drinks, swimming at the beach, hiking in the forest, and camping trips. Plenty of camping trips. Now I don’t know about you, but a camping trip isn’t the same without a campfire to enjoy. You can cook over it, warm up around it, get lost in its mesmerizing flames, laugh with friends as you swap stories, get chills as you listen to ghost stories as you watch flickering shadows leap and dance, plus of course listen to a good tune compliments of the guitar player at the fireside.

Are you in mind of a camping trip yet? Grab the s’mores makings and let’s go!

A question for you though. Do you know what kind of wood to use for your campfire? Sure, any wood will burn, but there are differences. Some wood burns hotter than others; good for cool nights. Other wood is better to cook over; no need to char every hot dog in sight. Yet other wood adds a nice flavouring if used more directly in the cooking process; think a nice cedar planked salmon. Which would should you choose before lighting that match then?

Best Choices for Campfire Wood

Not all wood is considered equal when it comes to a campfire. Some wood is better for kindling, such as softwoods like pine, fir or spruce (conifers). For those unfamiliar with the term, kindling is used to light a fire. Hardwood on the other hand is typically better at maintaining a fire. Examples of hardwood would be oak, maple or ash. You throw this on once you’ve got your fire burning. Here’s a brief guide to some of your best choices for firewood.

Apple - Good scent. Slow burning. Good heat. Great for cooking. Must be dry.
Ash - Great heat and flame. Burns when green. Cannot transport within quarantine zone.
Birch – Good heat. Burns quickly. Nice scent.
Cedar - Beautiful aromatic. Great heat. Little flame. Full of snap and crackle. Easy to light.
CherryBurns slow. Good heat. Lovely scent. Good for cooking.
Elm - Needs to be dried for at least 2 years. Good heat.
OakGood heat. Slow burning. Sparse flames. Good for cooking.
Pine - Great flame. Not a lot of heat.
Spruce – Good kindling. Lots of sparks.
SycamoreGood flame. Reasonable heat. Must be dry.

Remember that whatever you use in your campfire, always keep safety in mind. Know what you are burning and don’t transport banned firewood through quarantine zones. Burn in a proper fire ring or pit. Never throw combustibles into your fire. Keep water handy to extinguish your fire once you are done. Think smart and burn safely. Now go find a stick to roast your weenies!

What’s your favourite wood for campfires?

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Native Trees

Native Trees of Southwestern Ontario

Wondering what tree to plant in London, Ontario? How about choosing a native species? There are plenty to choose from…

 Native Trees for Southwestern Ontario*

  • Alternate-Leaf Dogwood
  • American Beech
  • American Chestnut
  • American Elm
  • Balsam Poplar
  • Basswood
  • Bitternut Hickory
  • Black Ash
  • Black Cherry
  • Black Oak
  • Black Walnut
  • Black Willow
  • Blue-Beech
  • Bur Oak
  • Butternut
  • Chokecherry
  • Eastern Hemlock
  • Eastern Redcedar
  • Eastern White Cedar
  • Eastern White Pine
  • Flowering Dogwood
  • Green/Red Ash
  • Hawthorns
  • Ironwood
  • Kentucky Coffeetree
  • Largetooth Aspen
  • Northern Hackberry
  • Peachleaf Willow
  • Pin Cherry
  • Red Maple
  • Red Mulberry
  • Red Oak
  • Sassafras
  • Serviceberries
  • Shagbark Hickory
  • Silver Maple
  • Sugar Maple
  • Swamp White Oak
  • Sycamore
  • Tamarack
  • Trembling Aspen
  • Tulip Tree
  • White Ash
  • White Birch
  • White Oak

*Suggestions from MNR Tree Atlas. See their page for more specific details on individual trees.

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LEA Craft Day

Award winning 18-hole golf

East Park – Award winning 18-hole golf course

Last week the crew from CLC Tree Services got to take part in a very special day. The men fired up a few CLC trucks and headed to East Park. While East Park boasts an 18-hole golf course, which just so happens to have won a Best of London award this year, CLC wasn’t there to hit the greens. It was time for them to host a London Executive Association’s Craft Day.

East Park served up some mean steak!

Some mighty fine steaks were served up for hungry LEA members!

For those of you not familiar with the London Executive Association (LEA), it is a non-profit association of London businesses dedicated to enhancing ethical business practices and offering extensive networking opportunities. It was founded in 1934 and continues to promote a high level of excellence in customer satisfaction, while also stimulating business and professional development. Meetings are held weekly at the London Convention Centre, but five to six times a year select members host a Craft Day. This month it was CLC Tree Service’s turn.

Calvin climbing

Calvin shows off his tree climbing skills

So what is a Craft Day, you wonder? It’s not about making twig puppets,  if that’s your guess. It is all about highlighting your “craft”; the skills that your company offers. As CLC is in the tree services industry, that meant that the crew took to the trees to showcase their stuff! Some of the skills that were demonstrated were fertilization and aeration, pruning, use of a bucket truck, proper climbing techniques, safety precautions, and tree planting.

A captive audience hangs on Curt's every word

A captive audience hangs on Curt’s every word

Before Calvin shimmied up any trees though, a few words needed to be spoken. Peter Inch, the President of the LEA, stood up to welcome everyone to the meeting, while folks filled their plates with salads and steak. Once bellies were satisfied, everyone wandered to a nearby clearing where CLC’s owner Curt McCallum planned to tell everyone about what it is that CLC Tree Services does. Heather Cadogan, from Keycontact, was first up on the mic though and gave a rousing introduction, which included a nice history of Curt and the business.

Shaun, Sean, Luke, Calvin & Nick were all on hand to help out CLC Tree Services during the LEA Craft Day

Shaun, Sean, Luke, Calvin & Nick were all on hand to help out CLC Tree Services during the LEA Craft Day

Once Curt took the floor, he introduced all the members of CLC Tree Services and other associates that were present who help make the company all that it is. Present crew members included Nick Tavack, Sean Stewart, Shaun Wright, Luke McCallum, Calvin McCallum, as well as Office Manager Christine Siemens, blogger Katherine Krige, and Curt’s hard-working wife Anna-Marie. With a nod to Sheila Creighton from ReForest London, he suggested native trees to plant, highlighted the many services that CLC Tree Services offers, and fielded the crowd for questions about anything tree related. The highlight of the day for many though was when members were asked to assemble for a special group shot taken from the aerial bucket truck.

It was a beautiful day to learn first-hand about our small family run business, and the abundant smiles and questions spoke volumes. Thanks to all the members that were in attendance. And thank you to the LEA for giving CLC Tree Services the opportunity to spotlight our company. See you at the next meeting!

Members of the London Executive Association spell out LEA

Members of the London Executive Association spell out LEA as seen from the bucket truck

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Almost Time For Summer Camp

There are less than two weeks of school left in Ontario. Children are straining to be done and who can blame them? Do you remember the sweet sound of the last bell that rang to announce summer holidays? Both teachers and students alike celebrate that sound.

Of course parents are another matter. Unless you yourself are a teacher, most people cannot afford to take the whole summer off. A week or two is one thing, but there are two months that stretch ahead of school-aged children with lots of time to fill. If Grandma and Grandpa aren’t willing to entertain your little ones for that time period, then what do you do with your kids? Options often look like summer camp.

Groan…

Never fear children! There are plenty of summer camps that give you the freedom to be kids, the glory of nature, and the structure that Mom and Dad approve of. Because what is better in the summertime, than getting outside to enjoy a little bit of nature? Nothing! In fact, I bet that playing outside is just what your parents and grandparents did when they were young.

Nature Based Summer Camps

Look for this Heritage-Status White Oak when you attend Art on a Limb summer camp in Westminster Ponds ESA

How about a summer camp in a forest? Lucky us, there is one right here in London, Ontario! Art on a Limb is located behind Parkwood Hospital at 944 Western Counties Rd. They are on the edge of Westminster Ponds and gladly take advantage of their scenic location. While there is a focus on arts and games, much of the day is dedicated to exploring the nearby environmentally sensitive area and all that it has to offer. Be prepared to spy birds, insects, small mammals, and plenty of native trees, like tamarack, red, sugar and silver maple, basswood, American beech, American elm, yellow birch, shagbark hickory, and even a white oak that is estimated to be over 250 years old. Welcome to a tree hugger’s dream!

 

YMCA Camp Queen Elizabeth Summer Camp

Become one with nature via YMCA summer camps

They don’t hold the market on summer camps in nature though. The YMCA also offers summer camps and has bragging rights on some pretty fine locations themselves. On Windermere Rd, they have access to 27 acres of wilderness at the always popular Spencer Lodge. Expect your kids to come face to face with frogs, turtles and other delights, as they explore the forest, while learning to make fire, shelters, and identify tracks of the creatures that live there. Fanshawe Conservation Area also hosts summer camps. With Fanshawe Lake being handy your kids will learn to canoe and kayak, as well as take part in traditional summer camp activities, like games, arts and crafts. For the ultimate in summer camps though, Camp Queen Elizabeth introduces overnight adventure on Beausoleil Island in Georgian Bay National Park. No cell phones allowed as your children get exposed to the outdoors in a big way. They can expect swimming, fishing, archery, sailing and so much more. Sign me up!

There is another organization that values summer camps as much as anyone, but isn’t exactly a summer camp themselves. The Charitree Foundation was founded by Andrea Koehle Jones. She remembers how much fun it was to take part in summer camp and figured out a way to give back. What she offers is the opportunity to make Canadian camps better. Camps that put in a request are eligible to receive 40-800 tree seedlings free of charge. This unique Canadian charity operates across Canada and only asks that campers plant seedlings within two weeks of receipt of them, plus water them as necessary. This is the 6th consecutive year that the program has been run and is open to any camps, including ones that have planted in previous years. For those that appreciate the concept, Charitree is always looking for donations, business partnerships, people willing to offer their expertise or any other way to help grow the foundation. It’s a great way to get kids back into nature.

What will you be doing with your kids this summer? How will they get in touch with nature?

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