Saturday, May 1, 2010

Orchard Year 2

Last year (Jan. 2009) I went a bit crazy for the fruit trees. I planted what can only be described as an orchard in my tiny backyard. I started off with a Blenhiem apricot, Flavor Queen pluot, Santa Rosa plum, Seckle pear, Comice pear and then just couldn't resist the Donut peach and Coffee Cake Persimmon. In pots I planted a Buddha Hand citrus, Kaffir lime and Kumquat. Most of them are crammed into 200 sq ft or so. I'll keep them pruned I thought. Let's just say I think my backyard will be quite shady in a few years.

Trees in general are really happy in my backyard. A year-round stream goes underground about a block away and then heads right through the back of my yard. Once plants get their roots down into the soil they seem delighted with the high moisture level. All the trees put on tremendous growth last year, even with two substantial prunings. The Donut peach even gave me a several lbs. of fruit last year. Have to say that I am totally impressed with that tree. Good crop the first year it is planted and an even better one coming along this year. In fact, I did the painful task of thinning the peaches recently. (Thin fruits so they are spaced every 3" or so.)

thinned donut peaches

Not only will this help prevent branch breakage, it will give the fruit room to grow and allow them to get plenty of nutrients. There is only so much water and sugars a branch can move up to the fruit, too many and those nutrients will be spread too thin. A few leaves have had a bit of Peach Leaf Curl this year so I guess I'll need to spray it this winter.

peach leaf curl

Today I had to take out my Seckle pear though. It came down with a bad case of Fireblight. Bummer because it was setting several fruit this year. Just as the fruit started swelling, branch tips started turning black and wilting.

fire blight

It is possible I could have saved the tree if I had cut it back hard right as soon as I noticed the blackening. But I just lightly cut the tips back and the next thing I knew the whole tree looked terrible. I probably spread it around when I cut it back too. Oh well, you win some you lose some. I looked up Seckles online and they don't seem to be particularly susceptible to fireblight but nor are they particularly resistant. Maybe next year I'll try one in another spot. Anyway, I'm taking out my Comice as well. The only reason I got it was that I read Seckles set more fruit with a cross-pollinator. I wasn't real thrilled to read about all the cold-storage requirements of the Comice though. Sounds like a pain to get the fruit to ripen. Plus I had to plant it in a spot that would eventually shade my Fig. So soon the Comice will be sent packing.

But today I was surprised to see two fruits swelling on my Apricot tree. I don't even remember it blooming.

baby apricot

Plus the Apricot was nearly girdled by my weed-wacker toting husband, a device he just got to edge our tiny lawn. I sternly warned him to keep that thing away from the trees but on its first outing he shredded the tender skin of the trunk to bits. The jury is still out on whether the tree will have long term issues because of it. It was his favorite tree of the bunch so hopefully he will be more careful in the future.

I fantasize about having enough land someday to have a real orchard so I can plant any kind of fruit and nut tree I could want. A girl can dream can't she?

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