My Eyes are Bigger than my Backyard

The first fruit tree at my home was a peach tree, now about 5 years old and hitting her stride.  I then added a Diana fig a year later and a few citrus (which failed-citrus and I do not mix).  Then last January I bought my first bare-root trees.  A Burgundy Plum and Double Delight Nectarine.  At the time I did a post of my new additions and their planting.  I love bare-roots for two reasons: they’re cheaper and way easier to fit into my car.

Oh!  Gee!  It’s January again!  And I just happened to find myself at my favorite nursery with an amazing selection of bare-root trees from Dave Wilson.  I just went to browse.  Really.  And then I remembered research I’d done on two cherry tree varieties that were just developed a few years ago for mild winters.  Low chill varieties Minnie Royal and Royal Lee.  And……they pollenize each other!   Living on the coast of northern San Diego, we receive anywhere between 200 and 300 chill hours each year.  Fruit trees each have their own hour requirement in order to produce fruit.  So, it’s important in a place like mine to plant varieties considered “low chill”.  Up until Minnie Royal and Royal Lee came out, growing cherries in a warm winter area was not possible.  Until now!

The ONLY reason why I decided to buy these beauties instead of just admire was because of a little orange tag I read attached to each type.  It stated that Mazzard rootstock was used to graft the trees on and it just so happens that this type of rootstock is….wait for it….resistant to root-knot nematodes (see my post about how to identify and get rid of)!  Now that they are in many areas of my edible garden, I figured this would be a great way to manage the problem.  Plus, Mazzard is good for wetter soils, which I have.  As a rule, fruit trees like well drained soils.

But, I couldn’t leave with just two.  Oh no.  A low-chill Gold Kist apricot (300 chilling hours) somehow weaseled it’s way onto my cart!  Now, I’ve heard that apricots are a bit harder to grow than most other fruits (along with apples), but to me they are the holy grail of the backyard orchardist’s collection.  You can buy them at the grocery store or farmer’s market for a very limited time, but I find that usually they are picked to early and are hard and a bit sour.  So I thought I’d give it a whirl.  Ah the things I will do to taste the sweet, juicy flavor of a perfectly ripe fruit.

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When I planted the Burgundy Plum and Double Delight Nectarine in my front yard last year, I amended the soil and added homemade organic compost as a mulch on top of the soil (thanks to my sister-in-law).  They seem to be doing fairly well, but haven’t grown much.  The nursery specialist said that the first year you want bare-roots to be focusing on root growth.  The fruit will come in the second or third season.  I decided not to amend my native soil this go-around with the apricot and cherries in my backyard.  I’ve read that some recent studies concluded that adding compost or amendment can cause the water to pool around the roots.  In addition, when the roots grow beyond the amendment and reach the native soil, they tend to turn back around to find that amended soil again.  This can end up forming a huge ball of tightly formed, twisted roots that do not naturally extend outward.  Makes sense.  In order to still provide my beauties with food and nutrients, I’ve decided to use my sister-in-law’s organic compost again as a mulch on top of the soil and then cover that with shredded leaves and grass clippings to keep the good bacteria alive.  In this way the compost will infiltrate the soil over time.  Ok, enough talk, more pictures.

Here's what the roots of bare-root trees look like!

Here’s what the roots of bare-root trees look like!

Minnie Royal

Minnie Royal

Planted Minnie Royal cherry tree.  About 15 feet from the Royal Lee.

Planted Minnie Royal cherry tree. About 15 feet from the Royal Lee.

Royal Lee planted in the middle of my main edible bed.  This is a south facing area at the bottom of a slope, which receives full sun.  It's the coldest part of the garden, being at the base of a slope, which is great for chill hours.

Royal Lee planted in the middle of my main edible bed. This is a south facing area at the bottom of a slope, which receives full sun. It’s the coldest part of the garden, being at the base of a slope, which is great for chill hours.  The Diana fig is in the background.

I haven’t yet planted the apricot, as I’m trying to figure out the best place for it.  I’m running out of space!  We’ll see what I come up with.  On a side note, here’s Henrietta’s before and after.

Here's Henrietta a few months old in Sept. '12.

Here’s Henrietta a few months old in Sept. ’12.

Here she is this morning.  Nicely filled out and seemingly lighter in color.

Here she is this morning. Nicely filled out and seemingly lighter in color. 

 

 

 

 

 

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4 thoughts on “My Eyes are Bigger than my Backyard

  1. Hi Jessica,

    Henrietta is such a beautiful hen. Thanks for posting the updated pic of her.

    It sure sounds like you didn’t make any impulse buys on your fruit trees, all are excellent low chill choices. I am a micro orchard enthusiast, too, and have a hard time not over planting my yard. I am like a kid in a candy store with all the bareroot choices this time of year.

    I haven’t tried Diana fig. What’s it like?

    My close friend across the street has been growing both of your new cherry trees since 2005 and she had her best year last year with them.

    I tried growing both Gold Kist and Katy apricots in my Long Beach garden, but after too many disappointing non existent to meager harvests, I torn them out and replaced them with a Loquat. I hope you have better luck with your Gold Kist than I did.

    • I hate to admit favorites, but Henrietta is mine. She is such a classy gal 🙂 Are you planting any new bare-roots this year?

      The Diana fig is a bright green skinned fig with a pink center. Great flavor!

      What is your soil like? Honestly my hopes are not too high for the Gold Kist, but I wanted to roll the dice.

      In my research on the cherries, I actually came across your post on your neighbor’s trees! Not a lot of bloggers have either tried them out yet or posted about them. I’ll have to be uber patient with their production. It’ll be good for me!!

      • I am sure we all have our favorites; my black cochin, Penguin, is my favorite hen, despite her crowing.

        Yum! I love green figs. My favorite is Strawberry Verte.

        My soil started out as a really heavy clay soil. It hardly had any earth worms in it when we bought the house. Over time, grass cycling and recycling of the Chinese elm tree debris, mulching, and topping with compost, turned my soil loamy in many areas. But it took at least four or five years to get that way. Under my grape arbor on the narrow side yard, it still pretty clay like, but the grapes don’t seem to care.

        I have not bought any bare root trees so far this winter. I have been avoiding the nursery because I know I will come home with something I probably don’t have room for. I am also supposed to be working on the laundry room improvements and painting my kitchen cabinets, not gardening. However, I prefer gardening to home improvement.

  2. I’m anxiously awaiting 10 Dave Wilson bare root trees from the local Cooperative Extension orchard! My wife’s sister lives in Escondido and we always have to take special precautions to limit what follows us home from the Nurseries and Feed stores when we visit.

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