I’m excited to report that we may finally be able to enjoy Rosslyn peaches, nectarines, and even a few pears and apples this summer. For the first time since we began planting an orchard, several trees have matured enough to set fruit.
Those bright red mulberry will darken as they soak up sun and begin to sweeten. They’re still pretty mealy (though the birds don’t seem to mind at all!)
The photograph at the top of this post shows a couple of small pears. A couple of pear trees set a pear or two last summer, but they dropped (or were eaten by critters) before I ever tasted them. Most of the pear tress are still fruitless, but a couple small green and red fruit are looking promising.
For the first, our peach trees are setting fruit. Heavy winds and rains have resulted in steady fruit drop, but I’m guardedly optimistic that we may actually be able to sink out teeth into a few fuzzy, nectar-sweet peaches soon.
The peaches are the most fruitful of all the trees at this point. In fact, a couple of trees are so laden that I’ll probably begin thinning fruit as they grow larger, culling the runts and least healthy fruit and leaving the best.
The photo below on the left offers a wider perspective on a fruitful peach, and the photo on the right shows a young and almost equally fruitful nectarine tree.
The three nectarine trees are 3-4 years younger than the peaches, so I’m curious why two of them are already setting fruit. The third nectarine tree has never been very healthy. Dwarfish and sparsely branched, leafed, I’ll try for one more summer to help it along. If it doesn’t begin to catch up, I’ll consider replacing it next year.
Like the apricot that I replaced this year…
We’ve struggled with apricots. Few of our apricot trees are thriving, and one died last year. We replaced it this spring with the Goldicot Apricot above, the only variety that seems to be adapting well. I can report good new growth so far on the transplant, but another apricot has died. Both are lowest (and wettest) on the hill, so I plan to address the drainage this fall. Perhaps the heavy clay soil and high spring water table is simply to much for the apricots to withstand.
Unfortunately it’s not all good news in the orchard. We remain committed to our 100% holistic orcharding (thanks, Michael Phillips!) mission, but we’re still playing defense with Cedar Apple Rust and other pesky challenges. I’ll update on that soon enough, but there’s another frustrating pest that provoked my frustration yesterday.
Can you see the munched leaves and branches?
Another munched branch (and early signs of Cedar Apple Rust).
Ive you look just below center of this photograph you’ll see where a large branch has been snapped right off. It was laying on the ground below. Also plenty of smaller branches and leaves chewed.
The two apple trees which were targeted by the deer were planted last spring. They’d both established relatively well, but they were short enough to offer an easy snack. We keep the trees caged during the fall-through-spring, but we had just recently removed the cages to begin pruning and spreading limbs (see red spreader in image above?), so the trees were easy targets.
And there’s worse news.
That’s a young persimmon tree that we just planted a couple of weeks ago. It was a replacement for a persimmon that arrived dead from the nursery last year (another drama for another day…)
Not only did the deer browse the persimmon, but it ate both leads, presenting a serious hurdle for this transplant. Not a good situation. I’ll pamper this youngster in the hopes that one of these blunted leads will send up another lead, or—more likely, but far from guaranteed—a fresh new lead will bud and head skyward. Fingers crossed.