We’re playing it safe and getting expert help in the beginning. So we had our landscaper put in a small orchard of fruit trees. Great. She even went over a list of native or near-native trees that would work in our climate. Then she encouraged me to select from the list based on the fruit I wanted to grow. Great. Great. EXCEPT. She hadn’t bargained on our utter cluelessness. It’s not enough to hand me a list of the trees planted. They all looked vaguely alike to me, especially in the early stages. Even now that the fruit is appearing, I’m having a hard time telling a nectarine from a pluot. What I need is a detailed map showing me exactly what tree is where in the orchard, so I can read and cross-reference between my dozen gardening books and see what I’m supposed to do.
In the knowledge gap that yawned between setting of the trees and this, our first harvest, a lot has been missed.
For instance, this poor peach tree — which, until recently we were calling a plum (well they’re all green in the beginning.) Turns out we should have thinned out every other little fruitlet when they were the size of marbles. Now that they are nearing maturity, the poor spindly tree is bowed down under the weight of fruit. We tried to cull at this point, but, well, when you’ve actually had a hand in growing something, pulling bits off to throw away is just too painful.
So we’ve pulled off those that seem nearest “ripe-itude” in the hopes that they’ll finish the process on a windowsill. In the meantime, we’ve read that we need to net this off to protect from birds. More poundage for the poor tree to bear.
Above: the poor tree weighed down because we didn’t
cull the young fruit. Below: our “early harvest”. Too
little, too late, but delicious even if they weren’t completely ripe.
When we finally do the full harvest, this poor little tree is going to feel as if it’s gone in for advanced liposuction and lost 50 pounds in one day. Or it will be permanently bowed down like a little old lady with osteoporosis and a slipped disk.
News Flash: Two days after they were picked, these peaches found their way into a
bowl with sorbet. And, while they are still a little underripe, they were delicious!