The Backyard Orchardist

Tasty Apricot

Tasty Apricot

A few years ago, I got the inspiration to grow…..apricot trees. I had just picked a big bunch at Linvilla Orchards near Philadelphia, and they were yummy. I decided that I could do it myself. I also had a thoroughly hideous bush in the backyard that needed removal. Since my wife’s price for removal of the bush was to plant a tree, my apricot tree inspiration met her price. While I was at it, I decided to plant a second tree. I knew enough to know that 2 apricot trees would give me too many apricots, so I had to think of an alternative. Since I also like apples, and my neighbor had an apple tree, I decided to plant an apple tree for the second tree. It was literally as simple as that. This year I figured out that the neighbor’s crab apple tree was not helping, so I gave my apple tree a pollinator buddy.

I learned during the first year that it was really not so simple. The first thing I learned was the trees needed to be sprayed. At the time, I just wanted to kill the bugs, so I got a “conventional” spray. I don’t remember if it actually killed any bugs, but I remembered that it smelled really bad. Just opening it was a foul experience. I had heard it would work, so I put up with it. I sprayed thoroughly and often. I made sure no bug would survive on my trees. Unfortunately, I managed to kill the buds, also. I got nary an apricot, or apple. I eventually changed the spray to something more organically inclined–like copper fungicide.

Then a couple of years ago (2010) I saw a real live apricot on my tree. One. I guess I had missed a spot in my spraying. I now knew that I can successfully grow at least 1 apricot. So the apricot mission was accidentally achieved, in a very tasty manner. My apricot tally since then is 0 in 2011-due to a late frost which killed my buds; 30 in 2012–all diseased, 3 edible apricots in 2013–due to a very wet spring. So my tally is kind of improving–and if I get good weather (and good pruning) in 2014, I should have a yummy crop.

I won’t be alone. I have noticed over the past few years that the garden stores, and even Lowe’s and Home Depot stock a broadening array of fruit trees. The increasing numbers of trees for sale means that these stores figure that there is an increasing number of people to buy them. I am glad to see that a market has developed around growing fruit trees in your backyard.

four apples Fruit trees are being planting beyond the backyard. There is an entire organization (the Philadelphia Orchard Project) that has planted over 30 fruit tree orchards all over Philadelphia and taught community residents how to maintain them. The result is to turn previously dead spaces into living ones (literally) that produce fresh wholesome fruits grown by the neighbors. I can only guess how much fresh fruit these 500 plus trees are producing each year.

It is kind of hard to imagine that much fruit at one time. So I will stick to imagining my 1 apricot and 2 apple trees producing enough fruit to have really tasty snacks on demand. Maybe this will happen in 2014, or 2015, or 2016 or 2017. Someday….

The Philadelphia Orchard Project

http://www.phillyorchards.org

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