Saturday, May 03, 2008

This Year There Will Be A Fruit Harvest!

Going into the 4th spring period I finally have fruit growing on my plum, nectarine and apple trees in my backyard!!

I purchased a few apple, peach, plum and pear trees about 5 summers ago. Back then it dawned on me that I now live in the South. Growing up we used to stay the summer at grandma's house in South Carolina. We could go to a nearby apple and pear tree, climb up and eat until our stomachs were about to burst open. It took me a few years to think to do the same thing in my own back yard.

The pear trees that I planted sprouted fruit the second season that they were in the ground. Aside from a serious drought last year they have been the most abundant producer in my yard.

At the opposite end of the spectrum are the peach trees. I have killed and replaced several of them over the years. These are the hardest to keep alive. The lack of rain that we have had has been deadly to these trees. I have given up on peach trees. Georgia might indeed be the 'peach state' but not in my back yard.

I am most proud of the plum tree.

It was just about dead after the first year. Some of the main branches were dead. I had to apply fertilizer spikes and make sure that it got water. After two years it grew to be the broadest treat in the orchard. Last year, however, my hopes were crushed. With the wacky warm weather in March the trees were motivated into blooming. The warm daytime temperatures were met with cold nights. All it took was one late frost event where the temperature went below 32 degrees several nights in a row to kill off all of my plum blossoms (and pears as well). I am fortunate on a relative basis though. The real impact were the local "Up Pick" strawberry farms who were totally wiped out. This year I am happy to say - after a few tense evenings where there were frost warnings in the northern suburbs which are near the mountains I was fearful that the frost would reach the south side. Each morning I checked the blossoms. Some did not survive the cold but for the most part the flowers that had fallen off had done so because a little plum bud was sprouting in its place.

When one of the peach trees died I replaced it with a nectarine tree. I didn't think that it was going to do anything this year. It was about to die last year because of the serious drought. I noticed that it had grown some new branches this year. I didn't realize that it had fruit on it until I had to go down to it because my dog kept running past a rabbit that was hiding in the grass. Each time the dog would pass the rabbit would just lower his ears and camouflage himself. I walked closer to the rabbit and it took off. My dog saw it then. As I walked up the hill I was able to see that there were indeed nectarines on the back side of the tree. No where near as abundant as with the plum tree though.

Now I decided to really press my luck. If there are plums and nectarines and pears out there then surely the apple trees are doing something, right? Low and behold there are a few apples coming in. I saw the blossoms but it did the same thing last year. This year we have been getting more normal rainfall. Upon closer inspection - I do indeed have a few apples coming in.

The next challenge is to insure that no little critters begin to eat at my prized crop before I get a chance to do so. When I first moved into the house I had planted a tomato garden in that back area of the lawn. At that time I was traveling so much that I neglected the plants. When I did check I saw some big caterpillars chewing through my tomatoes as if they owned them. Since that time I have been planted vegetables in large pots on my deck. In this location the only threat is my dog who helped himself to a few choice morsels before I cordoned off the area.

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