Plum Lucky

Please forgive my little play on words, but today we really are “plum” lucky. Will you look at all that fruit?

basket of plums

Basket of Plums

plums on the tree

Plums Still on the Tree

Coincidentally, today is my youngest son’s 14th birthday. The tree that produced all this goodness was a gift for his tenth birthday. This is the tree’s break-out year for fruit. We have lots of yummy apricots, too.

apricots

Freshly Harvested Apricots

apricots on the tree

Apricots on the tree

In one of life’s small ironies, the birthday boy won’t eat any of this fruit. He’s excited to grow and pick the fruit. He’s especially proud of the ample production. In a stage that I hope will one day pass, he still blames me for over-pruning and thereby killing one of the tree’s four grafts.

In the interest of harmony, we agree to change the subject.

We’re celebrating later with his favorite cake: Sans Rival. It’s a Filipino dessert cake made of layers of butter-cream, meringue and chopped cashews. Its name comes from the French phrase with the literal meaning without rival. My friend Jasmin introduced us to the cake and we’ve been fans ever since.

Happy birthday to my smart, clever, insightful, creative and handsome young man. You can’t see him, but he’s standing at the bottom of the fruit-picker.

Telescoping Fruit Picker

Telescoping Fruit Picker

Fruit for the Picking

You may remember that while attempting to cover the four-in-one fruit cocktail tree with bird netting earlier this year, I fell.  Yep, just call me Grace.  One leg of the ladder sank into the dirt and down I went.  I wasn’t seriously hurt, but bruised and scratched enough to abandon the job at hand.  Did I mention that I broke the ladder, too?

The tree was partially covered before the fall.  I left the excess netting in a pile at the base of the tree.  From time to time I tucked in bits of netting around the expanding branches, hoping to confuse the foragers. Would the coverage be enough to save some fruit for my family?  Last year the birds and squirrels picked the tree clean.  If I hadn’t taken a photo of two beautiful plums the day before, I would have assumed I imagined the whole thing.

It worked!  I’ve seen a few nibbles, but most of the fruit is still on the tree, soon to be ripe for the picking.

Netted Fruit Cocktail Tree

Plums and Nectarines

I haven’t baked in pie in a zillion years, but I think it’s time to brush up on my baking skills. The next fruit to set: peaches. Oh my, oh my, oh my!

Please let me know if you have a favorite pie recipe to share.

Reading the Fine Print

When my nine-year-old son discovered Fruit Cocktail trees, he could talk of nothing else. I’d never heard of them till our neighbor shared her plans to plant an edible garden. For the uninitiated, a “fruit cocktail” is a multi-grafted fruit tree; one tree, four varieties of fruit.

These trees are a boon for suburban gardeners with tiny lots. Another plus is the harvest season. The fruits mature at slightly different times extending the bounty gradually over the season.

Last spring we had beautiful fruit, but we were ill-prepared for nature’s scavengers. The squirrels and rats picked the tree clean in a day. We’re more prepared this year and will “net the tree” as soon as the flowers begin to fruit.

I photographed the beautiful blooms today, then removed the identifying tags. Reading the fine print on the back of each one made me smile.

A few gems:

“Self-fruitful in most climates.”
“Excellent pollenizer”
“…some tartness near the skin.”
“Tangy when firm-ripe, sweetest when soft-ripe.”
“Reliable, heavy-bearing tree.”

Blooming Apricot

Blenheim Apricot: Dave Wilson Nursery

July Elberta Peach Bloom

July Elberta Peach

Santa Rosa Plum Bloom

Santa Rosa Plum Bloom

Fantasia Nectarine Bloom

Fantasia Nectarine

Ah, fertility!

We purchased our Fruit Cocktail at Almaden Valley Nursery (thanks Doug!)
Wholesaler: Dave Wilson Nursery