The April Orchard

This week our peaches and nectarines are in bloom:

These trees have pink blossoms, and they are pretty prolific bloomers — the trees are covered! I have seen bees flying about, so I am hopeful that we will have fruit this year. The peach tree farthest down the row, though, is also our youngest. We planted it last spring to replace the one that didn't make it the first time around. That means that this year (its second year) we need to pick off all the blossoms so the tree's energy goes into a healthy root system and not into fruit production just yet. This is kind of sad to do, because you are killing off all your fruit on that tree for the year, but it's much better for the tree in the long run. Here's our de-blossomed Fingerlakes peach tree:

Elsewhere in the orchard, the Granny Smith apple is blossoming nicely:

It's a little hard to see in the bright sunshine of this photo, but it is covered with white blossoms. This tree is in bloom at the same time as the rest of our heirloom apple (which is in the background behind the Granny Smith). This is good news for cross-pollination. The heirloom tree has four different heirloom varieties grafted onto a single tree, and one section of it bloomed back in March when we had our first spring heat wave (we are in the middle of our second right now). No other apples in sight of ours were blooming at that time, but I did notice some crabapples in full flower about a half mile away from our house. Did I walk by and break off a blossoming watersprout, bring it home in my pocket, and use it to paintbrush-pollinate those early blossoms on our tree? Why yes, I did.

And I now have a bit of confidence that such a crazy scheme can work, because take a look at the results of my previous paintbrush-pollinating efforts:

Those little green beads are baby apricots! We have a bunch on our tree — not as many as if the temperature had never dropped to 23 degrees after being 89 in March, but we definitely have some fruit forming. So it looks like our water jug/Christmas light combo was effective to keep many of the blossoms just warm enough, and my pollination efforts did the trick. It's far too soon to guarantee fruit later this summer, but we're still in the game!


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