Hi Everyone. As you know, we’re already into the first part of June and here at our little slice of fruit heaven, we’re into the full swing of harvest season 🙂 Currently, we’re harvesting tons of fruit from our Artic Star Nectarine. Our Weeping Santa Rosa Plum, Black Mission Fig and Saturn Peach are up next. Yum, yum and yum!
Before we move on to the June Orchard Task List, I wanted to share with you the fruit that kicked off our harvest season this year… our Royal Lee Cherry. This is our tree’s second year in the orchard and is doing very well (and so is its pollinator, Minnie Royal). When we purchased our bare root cherry trees, Hubby and I were uncertain as to the success we would have with these trees since we’ve heard mixed reviews of cherries (in general) being grown here in Las Vegas, Nevada. So far we are happy with the trees and they are so healthy. Hubby and I were tickled pink to see that our Royal Lee Cherry had fruit set on it this year. Our excitement lasted for a short while when we discovered the small fruitlets were shriveling up and dropping, which we suspect was from a lack of pollination since our Minnie Royal did not bloom this year. Then to our surprise, one cherry took hold.
Without hesitation, Hubby graciously let me take the first bite and of course we devoured it together within seconds. Wow! The cherry was sweet and had such a wonderful flavor. It was a shame we only had one to share, but this single little gift has given us hope of things to come here in the desert. Until next year 🙂
Alright, as promised, here’s the June Orchard Task List. It’s a little shorter than previous month’s, but harvesting and processing your fruit will keep you busy.
- Irrigation ~ continue to water fruit trees 2x a week ~ fruit trees 2+ years old water for about 20 minutes and baby trees less than 1-year-old water for about 10-15 minutes.
- Special Note: if the day-time temperature hits 105°F and remains at or above this temperature for more than a couple of days, add an extra day of watering. Once it drops consistently below 105°F, resume watering 2x per week. I also recommend an extra watering day on hot and windy (20+ mph wind) days.
- Check your irrigation system ~ make sure everything is in good working order and water is flowing well from your drip and/or bubbler heads. Clear any clogging debris to make certain the flow is at an optimum. The heat is coming!
- Pick up fallen fruit ~ do this to help keep pests (like a variety of beetles and ants) down to a low roar. Also keep in mind that fallen fruit and discarded fruit break down and rot very quickly making an absolute mess on the ground and in your trash can. It can also attract an insane number of flies and pests, and stink up the area from here to high heaven. Very sticky and stinky! So be sure to take precautions to seal up and toss the fruit using a method that best suits your preferences. Composting (as long as it’s not infested with critters) or feeding them to chickens is one good way to dispose of the gooey sticky mess.
- Harvest fruit this month…yippee! Depending on where you’re located and the variety of fruit you have growing, you could be harvesting the following fruit this month:
- cherries, sweet
- cherries, sour
- Keep harvested fruit out of direct sunlight ~ the sun’s heat will build up excessive heat within the fruit and cause the fruit to breakdown quickly. While harvesting, be sure to place harvested fruit in the shade until you’re ready to put them in a cooler or bring them indoors. If you’re harvesting peaches this month and plan on being outside for a bit while picking them, I would highly recommend having a cooler with ice on hand so you can pick and place the harvested fruit in the cooler. Peaches are so delicate ~ it would be a shame to lose any to potential, and unnecessary, spoil.
- Summer Prune ~ if you haven’t done summer pruning yet, this is the month to start. It’s important to summer prune fruit trees to help maintain its size and shape as well as open up the center of the trees and allow for light and air movement to improve the health of the tree and the quality of the fruit. Note that summer pruning will need to be performed 2-3 times throughout the summer months. Below is a very informative video by Tom Spellman at Dave Wilson Nursery regarding summer pruning that I thought might be very helpful to you. Tom Spellman demonstrates summer pruning on a variety of backyard orchard fruit tree planting combinations like espalier, hedgerow, double planting, 3-in-1, 4-in-1, standard. Be sure to check it out.
- Keep weeds under control. The heat makes these buggars grow like crazy. Throw in an early summer rain and your somewhat out-of-hand weeds will become another “major” task list item in order to get a handle on it. When out in the orchard, just bring along a long-handled weeder/cultivator tool or hula ho and “scrape um off the face of the earth” as you “see-um”.
- Continue to protect your fruit from bird damage. Be sure to check out my post on bird netting.
- Keep checking for and addressing pests in your backyard orchard like stink bugs, leaf footed bugs, borers and the like.
- Protect your fruit trees from squirrels, rabbits and other rodents ~ set out special traps, set up trunk protection, entice these critters with special treats several feet away from the orchard (this may be more of a “gee it would be really nice if they’d actually use it” type of solution, but it may be worth a try.
- Protect yourself from the heat!
- Work in the cool of the morning and evening ~ this time of year I recommend doing time and labor-intensive tasks, like pruning and harvesting, during the morning hours between 5:30 AM ~ 10:00 AM – and/or – in the evening hours between 6:00 PM ~ 7:30PM; I know this can be challenging with a full-time job, but just remember… this is the fun stuff 🙂
- Wear protective clothing and accessories such as a long sleeve shirt made of a lightweight sun-blocking fabric, a nice wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses or protective eye wear, and gloves.
- Stay hydrated ~ bring out a container of cool water with you to drink
- Take frequent breaks ~ sit in the shade for a few minutes and drink your water
- Make time to preserve and savor your bounty ~
- can jams and pie fillings, fruit halves, puree’s, fruit salsas and pickled fruit for use now and later
- dehydrate fruit for use in future recipes, for granola or — make a homemade trail mix for hiking or camping trips or make yummy fruit roll-ups with different spices and nuts for snacking
- bake cookies, sweet breads and other delectable sweet treats
- or freeze your bounty for later use in smoothies and juices ~ just think, fresh peach smoothies all summer long and in the middle of November… yum!
Until next time, happy harvesting.