Entries in fruit trees (12)


In My Garden: Fruit Trees

It's been unusually warm in my Southern California backyard and my fruit trees seem to thrive in the extra heat, especially my cherimoyas and tangerines. I usually hand pollinate my cherimoya trees to get a good crop of fruit because we don't have the right insects here that normally pollinate the cherimoyas in their native habitat. But this year I was too busy and only got out a couple of times and thought I would be lucky to get a dozen fruit. To date I have picked 40-50 fruit and there's probably that much still on the trees, waiting to get large enough to harvest. I have two of the best tasting cherimoya trees that I think there are, if you like really sweet fruit. Also this year my tangerine tree is producing a ridiculous amount of fruit, and all those tangerines are really sweet and juicy. Only in Southern California are we lucky to be getting incredible fruit November through February when fruit trees in other parts of the country are dormant.


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!


Fruit in My Yard

My fruit trees are always providing something to snack on. Right now I have jujubes, sapotes, and chocolate persimmons, with a few pitayas. The jujube (the small reddish-brown fruit above) is sometimes called a Chinese date, a Korean date, or an Indian date, and it has the consistency and taste of an apple. Sapotes (the green fruit above) have a creamy pulp, ranging in flavor from banana to pear to peach to vanilla flan. The chocolate persimmon (the orange fruit above) is chocolate brown in the middle when you cut it open. It has the consistency and taste of a sweet pudding.

I am watching my cherimoyas and mangos getting large and they should be ready to pick in November or December. I just found a couple of ripe pitaya's or dragonfruit as they are also known (the hot pink spiky looking fruit in the bowl below) and my macadamia nuts are ripening and falling from my tree. Yumm! Life is good! 


In My Garden: Critters!

Above: Galvanized steel around my macadamia nut tree to help prevent squirrels from climbing the tree and taking all the nuts. They are welcome to all that fall to the ground, and there are always plenty to share. Note that I also put a ring of formica around the palm tree behind my macadamia nut tree so that the squirrels can't climb that and jump over to get some macadamia nuts!

If you have a vegetable garden or fruit trees you are going to attract birds and other animals such as skunks, possums, squirrels, rats, mice, and raccoons to name a few. This is usually less of a problem than you might think. Lethal trapping and poisoning is out of the question for me and is not necessary for anyone to do. Let me give you a few ideas that will help.

To prevent tree rats, possums, and squirrels from climbing or jumping into your fruit trees, prune the lower branches of your fruit trees to about 2 feet off the ground and 1-1/2 to 2 feet from other bushes, trees, and fences.  Use galvanized venting large enough to fit around the tree trunk. The venting should have an open seam that snaps together or screws together. You can also use flat galvanized sheet metal or Formica sheet to form around the tree trunk and screw together at the seams. You can get all of this at any home improvement type of store. Animals cannot climb up a smooth surface such as steel or Formica as there is nothing for them to get their claws into like the bark of your tree. 

To keep birds out of your fruit trees, I use bird netting. Be sure to tie it tightly around the trunk of the tree so that birds can't get inside and get trapped. And make sure it is at least one or two feet off the ground so that snakes and other smaller animals don't get entangled in the netting. They can easily get stuck and, if no one notices they are stuck, can have a slow and agonizing death. I leave folds in the netting that the birds can't see but I can reach inside to pick fruit. 

I have tried tying pieces of tin foil and ribbons on the trees, and that only works for a few days to a few weeks before the birds figure it out. I have also tried other methods such as spraying the trees with garlic and hot sauce, and that has not worked for me either. Pruning and netting seems to be the best way to preserve your harvest of fruit. 

In my next blog I will cover the vegetable garden, and how to safely keep the birds and other animals from eating all my vegetables. 

Above: Close-up of the screwed-together galvanized steel around my macadamia nut tree.

Above: Close-up of bird netting. 


In My Garden: Winter fruit trees

It's that time of the year again when most fruit trees are bare. I have finished eating my chocolate and fuyu persimmons and this year I got 30 to 40 white sapotes from a seedling that came up about eight years ago. I had heard white sapotes were good, but had only tried them once, about 30 years ago, and wasn't impressed. Well, this tree of mine completely changed my mind. It is now one of my favorite fruits and I can't wait until next year.

The last fruit tree to bear fruit, besides of course winter avocados and oranges, is the cherimoya. I have seven really good varieties. Last year I wanted to see how much fruit I would get if I didn't hand pollinate them. I got maybe 20 fruits. This year I hand pollinated the trees two or three times a week for six weeks. It took only about 20 minutes each time, so not much of an effort is needed. This year the trees are overflowing with more than 200 pieces of fruit! I just started picking my first harvest last week, and hopefully will have fruit until February.

Above: Cherimoyas on my tree.

Above: My cherimoyas

Above: Cherimoya