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Entries in fruit tree (2)

Wednesday
Aug012018

In My Garden: Cherries!

Above: Minnie Royal cherry tree

Many people don't believe me when I say I have productive cherry trees in my yard. Their response is always "Cherry trees only grow in cold climates, not on the coast in Southern California." But the fact is we have two very good varieties of delicious dark red cherries with a very low chill requirement (hours per year under 45 degrees). They are the Minnie Royal and the Royal Lee. These two varieties should be planted close together, as they pollinate each other.

When the cherries start to darken I put up bird netting with 3/4" hole spacing, or smaller, to keep the birds away. This size spacing also prevents the birds from getting caught in the netting, as can happen with larger spaced netting. I tie the netting around the trunk of the tree so no one gets in from underneath and possibly trapped inside the net. I leave several overlapping folds in the netting so I can reach in to pick fruit without having to untie the net every time. 

I also want to say that I have several fruit trees on my property from which the birds can eat the fruit to their hearts content. Maybe when my cherry trees mature and I am harvesting lots of cherries I will share with the birds who nest and live in my yard. But my trees are still young and while I got a significant amount of cherries this year, the nets stay on and the cherries are off limits to the birds until I the trees are producing enough to share. 

Above: Minnie Royal cherry tree, 2014

Above:  Four years later, 2018, the same Minnie Royal cherry tree as in above photo. Unfortunately, I had picked all the cherries off before taking the photo. 

Above: Ripe cherries!

Sunday
Jul052015

In My Garden:  Bananas!

A staple item in our house, as far as fruit is concerned, is the banana. We eat them because we love the taste but also because they are high in potassium and calcium. So growing them in my yard seemed like a good idea.

On the coast the lack of high temperature makes them a little more challenging to grow, but lack of frost is a positive. Finding the right varieties that have a good taste and are not sensitive to weather was important. 

When choosing where to plant bananas pick a south facing area. The south side of your house can be a good area because of the reflected heat. The soil needs to have good drainage, and bananas don't like too much wind because their leaves tear easily.

Bananas can grow from a small pup (young plant) to mature bananas in as little as 18 months but usually take longer in the cooler temperatures we have here on the coast. The banana plant produces bananas in one group per plant (three to many hands) and at the same time new pups are forming at the base. Allow one or two pups to grow. Remove the other pups and give to family or friends to start their own banana garden, or add to your own garden. 

Once some bananas on the group start turning yellow, cut the group off from the main plant and hang the bananas in a cool shaded place. The cut surface produces a white milky substance that drips and can stain surfaces so cover your surface from the drips or hang in a place that doesn't matter if it gets stained.

Then cut the trunk off right at the ground. It won't produce any more bananas and will take energy from the pup that is growing at the base. Compost heavily around the plants. They have shallow roots and need regular water and organic matter. Like all home-grown fruit, you will be amazed at the taste of the fruit you grow compared to store bought.