Gardens, like children, need nurturing to grow. Genetics certainly plays a role. Environment is significant too. A little TLC, however, goes a long way to ensure a happy, healthy garden. Today, I’m enjoying the fruits of my labor, literally and metaphorically.
This is the break-out year for our four-in-one fruit tree. We bought the grafted, stone-fruit tree as a gift for my son’s 10th birthday. I researched the guidelines for pruning the tree, and received additional tips from my nurseryman friend, Doug. Following that advice, I pruned the branches by 40-50% every year for the first three years. It seemed drastic to my young son who was pretty upset with me even though I was able to show him the research. One of the four grafts died, and I’ve never heard the end of it.
Where was I…oh yes, the fruits of my labor. Well guess what? This is year four and the tree is now covered in fruit. There is more fruit than we’ve had in the first three years combined.
Blushing fruit in the dappled sun
Branches laden with fruit
Last year’s small bounty disappeared overnight. This year we have so much fruit that the rats and squirrels have only made a small foraging dent. We might actually be eating peaches, plums and nectarines this summer. Oh happy days!
My fruit tree ‘cheat sheet’ told me to get out there and prune by the end of January. The four-in-one fruit cocktail tree is still relatively young, so good pruning is key to the tree’s long-term success. This time last year my son was adamant that I not prune the tree, worried that I would kill it. I read him a long article, published by one of the universities, on the importance of pruning in the first five years of the tree’s life. He would have none of it. Finally he relented, as long as I pruned the tree when he wasn’t looking.
What a difference a year makes. Playing Minecraft with a good friend today took precedence over anything I was doing. I quickly pruned the tree while my husband kept a hand on the ladder. Today was dry and clear, but cold. I wanted to get the job done and he wanted to get back indoors.
Last spring, I tried to put a net over the tree to protect the fruit from marauding squirrels. I managed to partially cover the tree, but then one of the legs of the ladder sunk into the soft soil, sending me backward into the shrubs. I skinned my chin, bruised my back side, broke the ladder and damaged my ego. It’s called learning the hard way.
Fresh cuts, new buds
Generally speaking, I enjoy pruning, but not when I’m ten feet off the ground. I’m glad the job is done for another year. I started the weekend with a bump on the head after ‘gracefully’ tripping over a warped mat in the garage. No sense adding injury to injury.