If you live in the Bay Area you probably have not one but multiple fruit trees in your backyard. After all, this area used to be covered in fruit orchards before it slowly became Silicon Valley. So you would expect that there would be an abundance of fruit trees to be found all over the Bay Area, especially here in the South Bay.
Every summer I receive baskets and baskets of freshly picked fruits from my friends. My friends Rose and Georgina will even drop off jams made from all the fresh picked fruit.
In our home in San Jose, I only had one apple tree but it gave me bushels of apples, and I was pretty happy with that bounty. Mainly because I knew I would get a bunch of apricots, nectarines, plums, persimmons, figs, and lemons from all my friends.
I thought about planting a few fruit trees after we moved to Los Gatos but decided against it. Why bother? I was already getting loads of summer fruits from friends. But it seems fruit trees would somehow end up in my garden whether I wanted them or not. After living in this home for a couple of years, we made a cool discovery. We found two fruit trees growing wild on our property. I say growing wild because they are in a location that you know nobody would purposefully plant them.
The kids discovered one fruit tree while playing on our hammock in our oak tree area. They were swinging on the hammock with our neighbor’s daughter last summer, when she noticed fruits on a tree there and pointed it out to them. Anjali and Rani told her that it was just a cherry blossom tree, and then to their surprise, suddenly noticed small pluots. The fruits were ripe already, so they picked some and brought them in for me to examine.
I confirmed that it was in fact a pluot tree. The kids were thrilled, they always wanted more fruit trees, but I always resisted. Now they had a fruit tree fully grown and bearing plenty of fruit.
It turns out there wasn’t just one fruit tree in this area but two fruit trees! On another day, when our friends Devi and Del came to see our garden, Del informed Anjali and Rani that there was a plum tree hiding toward the back of the oak garden. Again, they didn’t believe him, but sure enough, when they went to see it, they found a few small plums hanging from the tree.
The fruit seeds must have been dropped by birds because both trees are so close to the fence that they are growing half on one side of the fence and the other half on the inside.
This year, fruit on the plum tree is mostly eaten by the birds and squirrels, while the pluot tree still has fruit as long as we get to them before the critters do.
Speaking of critters like birds, mice, rabbits, and squirrels, the one downside to having an abundance of fruit trees is that they provide an abundance of readymade food for all the critters, too. The birds and squirrels in this area are fat and healthy thanks to all the fruit trees that they can partake from. That is the one problem all my friends complain about. Their trees will bear hundreds of fruit and they patiently wait for them to ripen, but by the time they get to pick the fruit, the birds, squirrels, rabbits, and mice have either left them half-eaten fruit or they have just completely eaten all the fruit. 😦
I’ve seen some people cover their fruit trees with netting to prevent the critters from getting to them. But in all honesty, these trees give so much fruit that there is no way one family, let alone 10 families can consume them. When I asked my friend Swati to send me some pictures of her daughter picking fruit from their fruit orchard to include in this story, this was her response to me: ” Can I get one of squirrels picking, as at our house they do the job 😅😅😅.”
As my friend Swati puts it, “The way I see it, how much fruit can we eat? So we pick what we want and let the birds and squirrels eat the rest.” This is a pretty chill attitude, until this year that is. Recently when I met Swati she was upset that the squirrels had completely wiped out her white peach tree. She said ‘I wish they would at least leave some peaches for us. Now I really need to find a solution to this problem.” Where else can these critters get a readymade abundance of organically grown, carefully fertilized, delicious fruit to eat, but in our gardens?
I recently got a newsletter from one of our local nurseries, Yamagami’s Nursery. In this issue there was a section on the best care of these fruit trees. One interesting technique that surprised me is the best time to prune fruit trees. I always thought the best time is in the fall when all the trees start dropping their leaves and get ready for winter dormancy. But according to Yamagami’s Nursery the best time to prune stone fruit trees is actually in the summer! Right after the trees are done bearing fruit. Go figure.
Here is the entire article from Yamagami’s Nursery. I hope you find it useful and can implement some of their fruit tree care techniques in your garden.
Summer Fruit Tree Care Tips:
From Yamagami’s Nursery
If your fruit trees still have stone (plums, apricots, pluots) fruit hanging, you will want to monitor their ripening process. Spotted wing fruit flies lay their eggs on ripening fruit resulting in wormy fruit and rotten spots. If you have had them before, you will want to hang some traps to see if they are back. Treatment is spraying with Monterey Insect Control.
Summer pruning can continue for trees that have already been harvested. In fact, August is the last month apricots can be safely pruned (winter pruning opens them to infection).
After harvesting, and the last of summer pruning, fertilize the trees with G&B Fruit Tree Fertilizer and give them a deep watering. This helps recharge them for next spring.
Keep the area around your trees cleaned up. Do not allow diseased leaves or rotten fruit to stay on the ground. They become a breeding ground for pests and diseases. Bag the debris and throw it away.
Happy Fruit Picking!