Posts Tagged ‘Fruit Trees’


Baby pictures

August 19, 2009

No, not that kind—this kind!

These are all our new trees. I realized I haven’t been doing a good job documenting the garden progress this summer, so I snapped a bunch of these just so we’ll have a record of them as they (hopefully!) get bigger.

Acacia tree

Acacia tree---can't remember the variety anymore, but D. picked it out at the UC Botanical Garden's plant sale last year. It's supposed to get quite big and fill this space in a lovely evergreen-with-yellow-flowers way without (supposedly) being too aggressive. Acacia honey is also supposed to be especially tasty, if we ever get around to getting bees.

Multi-grafted pluot

Multi-grafted pluot yearling: Dapple Dandy, Flavor Queen, and Flavor Supreme. This guy has looked healthier, but he did grow an insane amount this year, almost doubling in size. Yikes! We do need to do some aggressive pruning to balance out the tiniest graft, though, which didn't bear fruit at all this year.

Sour cherry

Montmorency sour cherry---the fencing is supposed to discourage the Labradane from trampling this one when he chases critters at night.


Oroblanco grapefruit. All the citrus are a bit yellow this time of year; hopefully a little more to drink and a splash of iron sulfate will fix this soon.

Multi-grafted cherry

Multi-grafted cherry: Van, Bing, Lapins, and Rainier on Mazzard rootstock, so this one should get pretty big too. This went in where we pulled out a decrepit fig earlier this summer.


Hass avocado (note all the new leaves, which are a very big deal after the last two avocados didn't make it!)

Tangerine tree

Page mandarin

Lime tree

Bearss lime (with passionflowers behind)

Lemon tree

Meyer lemon

Not pictured: The second Meyer lemon tree; the feijoa tree, which we’re pretty sure is now growing exclusively from below the graft, and will probably be replacing as a result; and our Charlie Brown Christmas tree, which is actually looking quite respectable these days and is growing happily in a shady corner of the yard, where it’s supposed to get to be 25 feet tall or so and provide some nice screening. We’ll see!

We’re pretty close to being maxed out on space for trees in the yard at this point. I have a few spaces targeted for large evergreen screen trees—one for a weeping bottlebrush tree, I think, and the other possibly for a type B avocado, plus the “Jervis Bay After Dark” peppermint tree D. picked out that’s visible behind the multi-grafted cherry, which we’ll plant as soon as the ground is diggable again. But that’s about it for the rear yard. Since D. wants a pear and I still want a fall-bearing apple (our Gala tree ripens in early July, which throws me for a loop, since I grew up in New England, where October is apple season!), I’m thinking of pulling out some of the nandina in the side yard and planting one or both there. (Originally I wanted a Mutsu apple, but since they apparently don’t do too well in the mild Bay Area, I’m now leaning towards an heirloom Gravenstein, which ripens in late August or early September here. They’re unusual in that they need a cross-pollinator, but I think the Gala tree should do the trick.) We can also potentially put some espaliered trees along our rear fence, but then we’re pretty much done on the tree front. On to currants, more blueberries, elderberries, and other bushes this winter!


The bees and butterflies are back….

April 22, 2009

….and the garden is loving it!

After a shaky first year with our garden where I wondered if the lack of fruiting had to do with the dearth of bees and other beneficial insects, I’m cautiously optimistic about this year’s crops.

First, our bees are back! Where they disappeared to last year I can’t say, but this year the garden is literally crawling with pollinating insects (including our resident hummingbirds). More importantly, fruit is setting like mad on the fruit trees. The orange trees didn’t have much to say for themselves last year, but this year there are literally dozens upon dozens of small green oranges on them. Same story with the plum tree. I did spend some time last year putting in plants rumored to attract bees and butterflies, but I’m not sure this is related to the visits—few of them are in bloom right now. So it may just be a fluke (though hopefully one that’s not going away anytime soon!)

This guy is a honey bee (I think) but we've seen no fewer than four different types of bees---plus a bunch of parasitic wasps, which is exciting!

This guy is a honey bee (I think) but we've seen no fewer than four different types of bees---plus a bunch of parasitic wasps, which is exciting!

We also had a mini heatwave this week, and the squash and tomatoes are basking in it. The arugula is even trying to bolt—and it’s only April!

Greens---yum! (I snapped this before the Oakland heat record was shattered on Monday when we hit a whopping 88 degrees....these plants are even larger now!)

Greens---yum! (I snapped this last weekend, before the Oakland heat record was shattered on Monday when we hit a whopping 88 degrees....these plants are even larger now!)

But my favorite find, nestled in my fennel plant, was this little bugger.

Anise swallowtail caterpillar

It's an anise swallowtail caterpillar!

A bit of digging on the Internet revealed that he’s an anise swallowtail caterpillar, and pretty common in California. After reading that they typically infest a plant, I went back to look. Sure enough, there were several other very, VERY tiny caterpillars eating up my fennel! Unfortunately, the fennel hasn’t been doing so well, and while I’m happy to sacrifice it to the butterflies, I have a feeling they’ll run out of fennel long before they’re ready to pupate. For now I’m leaving them there, since apparently in this very early stage, they just eat and eat and don’t move around a whole lot, so it’s a safe bet that (barring a hungry bird) they’ll still be there when you come back. But if they make it to being beautiful big caterpillars, I’m contemplating bringing them inside for a butterfly-raising adventure. (Apparently their foods of choice are anise, fennel, dill, parsley, carrots, parsnips, Queen Anne’s lace, seaside angelica, and—augh!—citrus trees. I don’t really want them eating up my dill seedlings or my parsley, and definitely not the citrus, so once they start wandering, it could be hazardous to the rest of the yard.)

Now that I know they’re out there, though, I’ll be putting in a lot more fennel plants this year—even if we don’t get super bulbs from them, it would be wonderful to have some nesting space for these guys.

And in miscellaneous other garden news:

Yes, those are teeny tiny grapes on there---our first crop!

Yes, those are teeny tiny grapes on there---our first crop!

We’re on track to start harvesting the loquats this week, with the cherries, plums, and pluots following late next month. (Sadly, this will be our last cherry crop for now—we took one tree out this winter, and the other tree is deathly ill with bacterial canker, which is contagious, so it will go sometime later this year too. Next winter, we’ll be in the market for a new cherry tree or two, though, so there should be some fun market taste testing in the offing this spring!) Strawberries, blueberries, and the breba fig crop should show up in June or July, and by mid-summer we’ll be rolling in apples. Hard to believe, but we’re already more than halfway to this year’s persimmon season, too!


What to do with all that fruit…. (or: cool food organizations in Oakland!)

September 9, 2008

Our persimmons are on the verge of ripening, which means it’s time to figure out what on earth to do with the bushels upon bushels that our trees are going to start shedding. Last year we had just moved in and had no idea that two single trees could possibly produce that much fruit. Now that we’ve weathered the persimmon, plum, apple, and loquat harvests, we’re pros at this. And while apples (and applesauce) are easy to give away, persimmons are a little more challenging. Last year I dumped a bunch at work, made our friends eat persimmon cake and persimmon pudding for weeks, froze a few as an experiment, and threw the rest (by which I mean dozens) into the green bin to help with Oakland’s city composting efforts.

This year I’m a bit wiser, and am not planning to attempt to use these all ourselves. Neither of us really likes the hachiya ones except in baked goods, and my noble attempt to freeze lots of puree for wintertime baking really didn’t pan out so well given that in California we get fresh local fruit all year round. Instead, I’m going to have one of these Oakland orgs come out to harvest them and cart them away—though we haven’t decided which yet.

PUEBLO’s Urban Youth Harvest: This program, a joint effort with Cycles of Change (another great local group!), has Oakland youth cycling through the city collecting ripe fruit, which they then donate to low-income seniors in the city. Not only do we get to help provide food for our neighbors, but we also provide jobs for youth and get them excited about sustainable local food and biking. You’d think choosing this would be a no-brainer.

Except….except! There’s also Forage Oakland, a new local project that offers a neighborhood exchange: you give them your edibles, and you get someone else’s edibles. I really like this idea; it reminds me of Portland’s backyard fruit trees project that got neighbors talking with one another as they traded the harvest.

So I’m torn. PUEBLO’s gig sounds like a better choice for benefitting the city overall, but the experimental/artistic vibe of Forage Oakland is compelling too. Of course, we do have two persimmon trees, so maybe we’ll just share the wealth….

Hachiya persimmon


Things to eat

August 14, 2008

We have beautiful front and back gardens, mostly thanks to the previous two owners of the house. It’s a little overwhelming at times, but our lot is one of the largest in the area (at least as the bungalow lots go around here). Our backyard bordered the estate of the deFremery family up until the early 1970s, but unfortunately it’s now lined with condos and apartments on two sides. They tower over the yard and cast some shadows, so we’re working on ways to make the yard more private (two baby avocado trees for starters, and we might go the clumping bamboo route soon). Suggestions welcome!

We put in two raised veggie beds this spring that are growing with mixed results so far. We’re a little too close to Oakland’s Broadway Auto Row to gamble with planting directly in our soil, and it’s heavy clay to boot, which edibles aren’t keen on. We’ve had one tomato, some lettuce, a few beans, and a squash so far, and the bugs have had a field day with the rest. (Turns out everything in the neighborhood showed up to lunch, so we have scale, aphids, whiteflies, cutworms, spider mites, and more. Yuck! We’ve tried to keep the yard organic and pesticide-free, but have resorted to neem oil, a theoretically-organic-but-still-toxic treatment for chewing insects, to try to quell the whiteflies before they re-infest the citrus trees.)

We’ve had much better luck with our fruit trees, though. Our yard currently has:

  • Avocados (Hass & Fuerte, but both babies!)
  • Santa Rosa Plums
  • Pluots (one tree, three types: Flavor King, Flavor Supreme, Dapple Dandy)
  • Figs (three trees, probably Mission)
  • Apples (probably Gala)
  • Oranges (Valencia & Navel, three trees)
  • Lemons (Eureka & Meyer, plus Ponderosa lemons that hang over from our neighbor’s yard!)
  • Cherries (two trees, dunno what kinds)
  • Loquats
  • Persimmons (Hachiya & Fuyu)
One of the raised beds, early in the season

One of the raised beds, early in the season