When I first started gardening, I had a hard time thinning the rows. I’d worked so hard to start these new plants, how could pull them out? Wouldn’t I be diminishing my results?
Then I read Steve Solomon’s Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades—who knew gardening books could be humorous? Anyways, Solomon writes:
I’ve met gardeners who just cannot thin out crowded seedlings. It seems like murdering children to them. I entreat you, gentlest of person, to reconsider the nature of plants. Thinning seedlings is not like drowning unwanted kittens. Vegetables don’t mind being thinned. They actually like it.
Over the years, I’ve gotten quite ruthless in the garden pulling weeds and thinning seedlings with abandon, but that didn’t carry over to orchard. The 10-year-old apple trees at our last house produced a scabby handful of apples on a good year. I could never thin our fruit trees.
That kind of thinking led to this poor spectacle.
Last fall, the girls dubbed this a ghetto apple tree held together with duct tape and a mop handle. I’ve learned my lesson. All those beautiful blossoms from a month ago have started turning into luscious apples.
I hardened my heart, grabbed my pruners, and snipped away. My goal was to reduce clusters of five down to two or three. We do have branches just loaded with apples, so I’m not sure if that was enough.
I guess it’s a start, and I always know where the MR keeps his duct tape.
We were disappointed to note that our new weeping plum didn’t bloom this year, and that the pears and other plums can’t work out their schedules. One pear tree is still recovering from the attentions of a starving deer; it’s grown quite a bit in the last few years. I think it’s almost the same size as when we bought it.
We will get at least a few plums this year.
The MR has been checking for disease-resistant nectarine trees. Ours looks like it’s on its last leg.
On the other half of the orchard, behind the protective netting, waits a banner crop of currants.
And our grape vines are starting to cover their trellis. This year, I’m hoping we get more fruit than the birds.
We have our first few plumcots that are due to ripen in June, followed shortly by the currants, and then the sweet yellow plums I showed you. We have to wait on the apples until September, but we;ll be enjoying the blueberries and grapes.
Until then, a friend shared that it’s opening day at the strawberry farm down in the valley. They looked tasty, and at $1.25 a pound are a total bargain.
I’m hoping some day all my fruit trees will need a little thinning to keep the branches from breaking. For now we’ll be happy with a few, and I’ll keep an eye on our apple tree.
Do you know a nectarine tree that will do well in our maritime Northwest climate? What kind of fruit are you growing at home?