Most of you know our orchard specialty is growing close to 200 varieties of fruit trees. Almost all of our trees are planted bare root in the winter, in February generally. This allows the tree roots to get well settled and established in their new home before buds and leaves begin to emerge in the spring. My challenge is, I have to order next year’s trees RIGHT NOW, because the rare and exotic heirloom varieties I seek are hard to find and sell out super fast
Here’s the truth - heirloom fruit is often less than perfect on the surface, and sometimes, just downright ugly. The russeted skin of an old apple variety seems rough and coarse to our modern sensibilities more used to the fine polish and luster of a supermarket red delicious. Please, I implore you my fine fruit friends, look beyond the cosmetic imperfections, peel the mottled rough and russeted exterior off if it offends too much. Then savor the flavor and complexity of an apple that has been lovingly raised and reproduced by humans for hundreds if not thousands of years, all for that unique and irreplaceable taste
Have you ever picked or bought pears that were rock hard, and stayed that way? How about the super mushy yet gritty ones? Yeah. Blech. Those were pears that were picked and/or not ripened properly. It took me a few years to read up on pears and figure out why most of mine were awful, and here dear readers, is what I have learned.
Let’s get this straight: roses are a symbol for love for most excellent reasons.
They are difficult, they are cruel, and they will cut you.
And yet, the sight and fragrance of a rose bouquet can be on of the most ephemeral transcendent experiences of beauty the natural world can gift to us. Nothing else smells like a fragrant garden rose, and perhaps no other flower offers such a variety of color and shape.
There are a bunch of solid reasons to thin your fruit, depending on the kind of fruit tree. I will break it down by species a bit more below, but in general, orchardists thin fruit for the following reasons:
to discourage overbearing and thereby improve the size and flavor of the remaining fruits
to prevent rot forming and insects from nesting in between fruits that grow together
to prevent limbs from breaking from too much fruit load
to stimulate next years crop and prevent biennial fruiting
When I was a child growing up in Indiana, every year I looked forward to an amazing seasonal treat called persimmon pudding. It was more of a bread than a pudding, similar to banana bread with a thick moist texture, packed with spices, and often topped with homemade whipped cream. I loved that desert fiendishly, though I had no idea what a persimmon was. As an adult, I moved to California, and began to encounter the persimmons here in tree form, with their perfect orange globes hanging like perfect ornaments from bare trees in the late Fall. Only then did I connect the treat of my childhood with the iconic fruit trees growing in my new home.
It’s been quite a year. After 5 years on this property, planting trees and building a farm in the slowest of possible ways, we finally had a real harvest, and it was a great one! It’s hard to believe that the thin and spindly twigs of bare-root trees that are delivered in the dead of winter, then gently placed into the ground, will someday grow into healthy trees covered in fruit. And yet, so it is, and of the 600 or so trees we have planted, most are now thriving, and perhaps half fruited this year, most for the first time. I am so grateful to everyone who believed in our crazy mission to grow a diverse fruit orchard on these bare acres 62 months ago.
Fall is not entirely without it’s farm chores, the most enjoyable being the apple, pear, fig and persimmon harvest to come. We are also deep in the midst of planning for the year to come. Approximately 100 trees to plant this winter have been ordered, with a focus on new apple and pear varieties as well as pluots and nectarines.