Sunday, March 28, 2010

Backyard orchard culture. Trees in Bloom

We're now in the "second wave" of blossoms in our backyard-orchard-culture "orchard". The apricots have finished blooming - I don't know, the frost may have killed branches and prevented fruit set, we'll see. If the trees die, that's it - no more attempts at apricots. They are not well suited for this climate.

The peaches have a few blossoms now, but are leafing out. Soon, I'll want to dig up the peach seedling and find a better location for it to grow into a tree. As a nongrafted, seedling, genetic dwarf, it's a complete gamble. If nothing else, they have beautiful flowers.

The plums are done as well. It's too soon to see if fruit set - with some of the cold nights in the past month, it's possible they didn't. This is only their second leaf, so any fruit would be a surprise.

Asian Pear, 3-way graft. Oh, it will be so great if a few fruits set. Not too many - it's only in its second leaf. The flowers are lovely.

The 5-way European pear. This year we'll thin more. It's developing a nice spur structure, repeat clusters of blossoms. Responding very well to the backyard culture method of summer pruning to hold to size, which means no standing on ladders is needed.

Awesome clusters of cherry blossoms. Some are in full bloom, others not quite there yet. Again, the sweet cherries are responding very well to the pruning philosophy. I really didn't know if it would work. It's working great for these trees. This tree was allowed to grow a bit too tall for backyard orchard culture, but before it got out of hand I pruned it back. It's a 3-way graft, so pollinates itself. I usually play the bee and travel among blossoms with a paintbrush, but it's too rainy for that. I hope the real bees do the job.

More sweet cherries.

Another experiment, this one in its infancy. These are seedlings, from wild cherries collected last fall. The wild cherries grow very tall, too tall to be practical in a yard. Why not see if they can be kept compact by severe pruning? I don't know if it's possible, but if it is, we would have wild cherries within reach, and fruiting at a time when other cherries are done. These are just beginning life - who knows how many years this will take.

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