It seems hard to believe, but we'll soon be enjoying the "fruits" of
our hard labor... literally!
I'm talking about those fruit trees and bushes we've carefully grown
and nurtured. We'll be picking apples, peaches, raspberries, pears and
There's something very satisfying about picking a piece of warm fruit
directly from the branch and biting into it! And of course, there's a
certain degree of pride that comes from placing a special dish on the
table and casually mentioning to your guests that the dessert or the
sauce "came from our own fruit trees..."
Today, I will discuss some timely summer tips for keeping your fruit
trees in tip-top condition. I'll also mention some of my favorite
fruit trees if you're doing some advance planning for fall planting!
These tips refer specifically to young fruit trees; those that have
not yet reached maturity. They are at their most vulnerable in these
early years, and this is when they need more of your attention, rather
like your children. However, as they grow in size and strength -
unlike your kids - they won't keep you awake at night wondering where
Pests and diseases: Check leaves, trunks and branches for signs of
disease or the presence of damaging insects that might have arrived in
late spring. If it looks like a major infestation, contact your County
Extension agency. You are also welcome to e-mail me at
email@example.com if you have any specific concerns.
Stake mistakes: If you staked your young trees, be sure to check that
the stake is still capable of supporting the tree as the new growth
pushes out. Take a look at the stake just above and just below ground
level to see if the wood is rotting and liable to break and take the
tree down with it.
Decide if your tree still needs these "training wheels."
Fight heat stress: A weekly deep watering is the best prescription for
most fruit trees. Mulch will help slow down evaporation and keep the
roots cool. Start with approximately 2" of bark or humus, unless the
growing instructions suggest otherwise.
Thin the herd: If your tree is already producing fruit, you might want
to thin it out. When the fruit is spaced about every 5" or 6" along
the branch, each fruit can receive a greater share of the tree's
resources. This will yield less fruit but each piece will be larger.
If you'd rather have a greater "head count" of smaller fruit, simply
thin less aggressively or not all.
And now, if you're already thinking about planting some new fruit
trees in the fall, here are some of my favorites to get you started:
Bing Sweet Cherry. If you like large, sweet cherries that are almost
black when ripe, then this is the cherry tree for you! Note: you will
need to plant more than one tree for successful pollination. A
suitable pollinator (that yields excellent fruit of its own) is the
variety known as Black Tartarian.
Big Red Delicious. The ripe fruit really is red... all over! And
remember Red's cousin: Golden Yellow Delicious. In my opinion, the
almost perfect apple with its crisp, extra-juicy flavor and its
suitability for storage.
Granny Smith. The apple with the bright green skin and tangy, tart
flavor. By the way, there really WAS a Granny Smith. Mary Ann Smith
was an Australian gardener who died in 1870 and developed the fruit
that bears her name from the seeds of a French Crab apple.
Santa Rosa Plum. This is an early-season plum with firm, sweet flesh
that is yellow, becoming pink near the pit. A major benefit: the Santa
Rosa is self pollinating, and can also be used to pollinate another of
my favorite plum varieties know as Burbank.
Bartlett Pear. With its yellow-green skin and long, elegant neck, this
pear looks as beautiful on the tree as it does on the plate! Don't
allow the fruit to become fully ripened on the tree as the flavor will
improve following refrigeration. For pollination, select Moonglow or
Pineapple Pear. Note that Bartlett does not pollinate with Seckel.
Enjoy the beauty of your fruit trees... and their bounty at harvest
The Plant Man is here to help. Send you questions about trees, shrubs
and landscaping to firstname.lastname@example.org and for resources and
additional information, including archived Plant Man columns, visit
www.landsteward.org where you can also subscribe to Steve's free