For those of you only growing veggies, flowers, or nothing at all… start planning now! I challenge you to plant at least one fruit tree. Whether it’s planted in the ground or in a large container on a patio, there’s a fruit tree out there that will meet your needs. So I hope to hear the words, “Challenge… accepted!” You’ll be so glad you did.
Re: photos above. You may notice quite a difference between my front and back orchards (i.e., lush vs. sparse). If you’re thinking the wood chip mulch made the difference, that assumption would be false (at least in this case). Though our back orchard is lovin’ the wood chips, which will ultimately benefit the trees and soil enormously, we just recently put the mulch down. Also note, that both orchards were planted at the same time with the same amendments and soil. Both orchards are healthy and producing wonderfully delicious fruit.
I believe part of the difference is the type of fruit we’re growing. With the exception of our pomegranates and citrus, the fruit trees in the back are all stone fruit. The fruit trees in the front are small seeded fruit such as apples, fig, and asian pears. Though the fig is a fast growing tree, the apples seem to take a little longer to fill out this time of year. Plus the Pink Lady Apples and the Hosui and Chojuro Asian Pear trees have a tendency to grow straight up to the sun giving them a very linear appearance. We’ll be amping up our efforts in the next few weeks with the limb spreaders on these guys :)
And the little scrawny tree you see in the front orchard is an almond that failed to take off. We’ll be replacing this tree next year and will plant it in a new location. This is the third almond tree we’ve planted in this spot and all have failed :( Time to do something different.
Just wanted to mention that small bit of info in case you were curious.
Helpful Planning Tools
A while back I started a “how-to series” on starting a home fruit orchard. Here’s what I’ve posted so far…
FYI… Each post has a link at the bottom of the page that will take you directly to the next post in the series. How convenient is that!?!
My illness stopped me in my tracks while writing this series, but now that I’m recovering and feeling better, I am going to finish the series this year. So keep a look out for more informational posts. I’ll also plan to revisit my original posts to see if any updates are needed. If I do make an update, I’ll be sure to let you know.
Come, Take A Stroll With Me In My Orchard
This morning, as I was walking through my orchard, I stopped at every tree and took photos of all the wonderful fruit developing and thought you might like see how everything is progressing. I snapped the photos as I strolled by, so you will get to experience them as I did. So without further adieu, I present… the fruit of 2014 (sounds so formal :P).
In the front orchard, our first stop is my Golden Dorsett Apple. I’m really anxious to see how the apples turn out this year. See, last year, we lost most of our crop to what we think was a calcium deficiency. We’ve done things a little differently this year and hope to keep every last piece of fruit on this tree. So far, the fruit looks fine.
As we continue strolling to our right, with the morning sun now behind us, we come up to our two Pink Lady Apples. Out of all our fruit trees, these two trees, and our pomegranates, are still blooming and continue to be a source of pollen and nectar for our honey bees. This is a late season apple, that will be harvested in the fall, and is the last tree in our orchard to drop its leaves each year. In fact, they hang onto most of their leaves well into January.
In addition to installing limb spreaders this weekend, I’ll be thinning the fruit to one apple per cluster. Then, in a week or so, I’ll be protecting the little fruitlets from sunburn either with kaolin clay or little booties that I used successfully last year.
With a sharp right towards the house, we’re greeted by my Chojuro Asian Pear…
Both trees are loaded with fruit. I just finished thinning all the fruit in the back orchard and will be thinning the front orchard this coming weekend. Like the Pink Lady Apples, I plan to thin the Asian pears to one fruit per cluster.
Last but not least, my Black Mission Fig.
Around these parts, our fig tree is VERY popular with the local mockingbirds and desert squirrels. The tree has lots of fruit and I plan on keeping a close eye on them every day until “I” harvest them. Last year I was only able to harvest a small handful of fruit from this first crop of the year (also known as the berba crop). The rest of the fruit was either pecked to the point of obliteration or chewed off and carted off, in a hurry I’m sure, by the ground dwelling furry critter. Sure, there’s more than enough to go around, but these visitors are ungracious guests. They’re like those people who like to either take a nibble out of each piece of chocolate in an assortment box or push their finger into the top looking for a firm nut & chew piece. Does this one have nuts? Squish… yuck, cream. Ooh, this one’s maple. They basically ruin the entire box for anyone else who come’s along wanting a piece. Dagnabit.
Rather than talk your ear off about my winged and furry foes, let’s head in, through the house, to visit the back orchard. Watch your step, please as you enter.
First up, our Weeping Santa Rosa Plum.
Oh.. my.. gosh.. This tree has so much fruit. And this is even after I filled up one-half of a 5-gallon bucket with the fruit I thinned off the tree. Also, this is another popular tree… with both the mockingbirds and wild finches.
Just a few steps away is my beautiful Flavor Delight Aprium.
Since this tree is an early harvest fruit tree, it rarely has issues with pests (except for the birds ~ the one constant in my orchard). I’m dreaming of its sweet and juicy fruit as we speak. Soon. Very soon.
As we continue walking west through the crunchy wood mulched ground, we come up to my Artic Star Nectarine.
With the odd weather challenges this year, we failed to address any thrip issues early on and as a result, we have thrip damage. Most of the fruit looks beautiful, but some are just downright, well, ugly-looking. We’ll keep an eye on them until harvest.
Next up… our Saturn Peach.
Every year I look forward to our peaches… okay, you caught me, I look forward to all my delectable fruit, but the peach holds a special place in my heart and my sense of smell. When its close to harvest time, the peach scent in the orchard is just heavenly. Even as I thinned the small fruitlets from the tree this past weekend, I could smell a faint hint of peach in the air. The scent that makes me swoon is probably the same scent that attracts every creepy crawlie to the tree.
Last year, we had a real issue with black beetles. They’d tuck themselves away into the tight area where the peach connected with the branch and nibbled their way into the fruit. In most cases, the fruit would fall off the tree and make an absolute mushy mess. The fruit would rot so quickly ~ it was just gross picking up peach slop from under the tree ~ which I’m sure exacerbated the beetle issue. It also didn’t help that I was unable to thin the fruit like I wanted to.
This year, we thinned the fruit really well and have a plan of action (avoiding of course all chemicals and pesticides), so I’ll keep you posted. Hold onto your seats, folks. Peaches are coming.
Now, my cherries. I have four cherry trees, two Minnie Royal (one dwarf, one semi-dwarf) and two Royal Lees (one dwarf, one semi-dwarf). Two are new trees, but with our two-year old cherry trees, only our Minnie Royal bloomed (the Royal Lee is the pollinator) and to our surprise, the Minnie Royal produced one single cherry fruit (a mystery). All the other unpollinated fruit, tiny in comparison to “the one”, turned brown and withered away.
As we continue through the orchard, back toward the house, we stroll past our new May Pride Peach and Gold Kist Apricot as well as our pomegranates, citrus and future test site for an avocado tree.
Check out the flowers on my Eversweet Pomegranate…
…such a vivid orange-red. There are more than double the flowers this year than last. I would have taken a photo of our Wonderful Pomegranate, but the bees were very active just outside their hive and I wanted to leave them bee (corny, I know ~ that’s to be expected when you’re following me around my orchard).
As we continue past the pomegranates, we come up to my Flavor Queen and Flavor King Pluots. Now, when it comes to this fruit, let me just say… Wow! So sweet with an awesome flavor.
Out of the two trees, I have to say that the Flavor King Pluot outperforms the Queen by way of fruit volume (at least for now) and taste. Now, don’t get me wrong… the Flavor Queen Pluot is still tasty and enjoyable, but the Flavor King Pluot wins hands-down. Last year, the Flavor King Pluot produced buckets full of fruit.
In addition to these pluots, we have two new baby pluot trees… a Flavor Supreme and a Flavor Grenade. I’ve been told that the fruit from these trees are way beyond that of the Flavor King Pluot. Well, we’ll just have to wait and see :)
And finally, we have our new Spice Zee Nectaplum. The tree has beautiful dark burgundy leaves right now and the fruit is supposed to be wonderful. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait a couple of years before we’ll be able to taste its fruit. I could stop by the local test orchard and purchase some when they’re being harvested, but why spoil the fun :)
Well, that concludes my fruit/orchard tour and it was so nice to have the pleasure of your company. Until my next post, be sure to enjoy life to its fullest ~ do something you love to do.
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