Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Short Fruit Tree

Having a fruit orchard of my own is something I've dreamed of for a long time now. Since we've moved in, I've been trying my best not to kill any of the trees and have been studying about how to care for them. Despite installing two failed irrigation systems and having a pipe break on us, I'm still at it.

I got this book by Ann Ralph a few months ago while we were still in escrow, called Grow a Little Fruit Tree.

It goes into how much of the popular information on growing fruit trees is actually more applicable to commercial growing operations, specifically having far spaced, 15 foot trees, so farming equipment can easily get in and out and do its work.

She talks about the real problems that can be associated with having overlarge fruit trees in your backyard such as overcrowding and blocking sunlight for other trees, being unwieldy and impossible to to care for or harvest a crop from without getting a ten food ladder and overproduction of fruit.

At first over production of fruit sounded ridiculous to me, because surely you can eat it, preserve it, give it away or what not. But the reality is, with this year's fig tree alone, by the time we were through with the crop I had made fig jam, bacon wrapped figs, figs stuffed with goat cheese, dried figs, etc., I never wanted to see another fig in my life!!! The amount that went bad on the ground made me feel guilty (I gave away a LOT) and rotten fruit, if not picked up, opens the door to pests and disease. Last but not least, I have to water and feed these trees, so as much as I'd like to be the most generous fig provider to all of my lovely friends, family and be that super cool neighbor- I will be paying for it with my water bill, not to mention all of the rare ingredients I had to pick up specifically to use for fig recipes!

She talks about keeping trees a maximum of 6 feet tall and equally wide so that you can reach it without a ladder and keep the crop manageable and the tree taken care of. Smaller trees also mean more room in the orchard for different varieties that may have otherwise not fit.

About a week ago I decided to get started on this trimming process. There was an overgrown apricot tree in my orchard that was taking up so much space and not allowing the two trees on either side of it to get any sun and I couldn't even water the other trees without getting whacked in the face by it.

It was about fifteen feet tall and  equally wide. I was sick of thinking about pruning and decided to just go for it.

I was worried that maybe cutting off so much of the canopy might be an issue. The book was more about keeping small trees small and not so much about making big trees small again although it is briefly referenced. I actually shot out an email to the author, telling her how much I loved her book and asked her if it was too much to chop this tree back all at once?

Then after five minutes of extreme patience on my behalf I decided, I'd most likely never hear from her, so what the hell!? I went for it!

I slowly but surely butchered this tree. I reduced it probably by about two thirds of its original size. But I did it in what I thought was a good way. I opened up the center so the sun could get in, I pruned things back to the weight bearing branches and pruned branches that were growing back into the tree. Made sense to me.

When I was finished it looked a million times better. I could actually walk around the tree and see the trees around it. It was a little scary though because there were so many branches on the ground.

When I showed Dallas and my mom that evening, they were pretty worried. Then I got worried and went on a mad google tirade wherein I learned that the bark might get sunburned without the canopy to cover it. So in the middle of the night I used one of the kids paint brushes and went out there and painted the trunk white in hopes that it would help deflect the sun.

When I went out there the next morning, the tree looked like a hate crime with the crazy white paint and chopping. On top of that, I had received an email back from the lovely Ann Ralph herself, suggesting that I cut a maximum of one third of the canopy and that I find a certified Arborist to help walk me through it. She was so sweet and helpful. I didn't have the heart to tell her of my crimes of impatience and tree butchery. I felt guilty but all I could do was keep the tree hydrated and wait and see.

When the Arborist came about a week ago, he told me that the job I had done wasn't half bad and he thought the tree would pull through just fine. But where was the new growth?

Well today, lo and behold... the new growth. I may be a impatient and a failure at irrigation, but one thing I am not, is a tree murderer!

Seeing the new growth really made my day.

The avocados are almost ready,

I picked two today and we'll have to see if they ripen. Fingers crossed!


  1. It was really comforting choosing brush clearing aptos for the cutting of our tree! We were receiving the best service possible in town! Incredible!

  2. Tree care is unquestionably a significant aspect associated with dwelling usage this is not to turn into obtained lightly. Your time and money envisioned to get right tree care really ought to quick any house user to consider almost every phase so that you can ensure this provider engaging using their tree care would become the greatest obtainable. Navigate to this website

  3. With the increase in technology and television programs, it is easy to forget the serenity and peace of nature. Aside from the point, I felt my self esteem and confidence go further. Light deprivation greenhouse

  4. I was getting bore since morning but as soon as I got this link & reached at this blog, I turned into fresh and also joyful too.check out the post right here

  5. Bundles of thanks for providing such kind of blogs with the informative and impressive articles. Mark Hurd

  6. I am really appreciating very much by seeing your interesting posts. Unlimited wireless

  7. I have checked this link this is really important for the people to get benefit from. amit kort real estate

  8. Great blog post! I don’t understand how long it will require me to obtain through all of them!
    aplikasi poker

  9. Great survey. I'm sure you're getting a great response. psd to wordpress