Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Thinnings

I know a woman who refuses to thin her fruit trees. She says it is because she's got a strong maternal instinct. Her trees bear and bear and their heavy, burdened limbs break in the windstorms. Ripe fruit litters the ground, bringing clouds of vinegar flies. But as generous as she is with her trees, she is with her friends and neighbors. All are welcome to walk away with bags of limes and apples, feijoas and jujubes.

I'm less generous with both my trees and my fruit.

Eva's Pride is my pride; I want her fruit to be plump and beautiful, and her well-shapen limbs to last for many years. This year, it seems as if every flower has left a velvety teardrop future-peach. It is too much. Mid Pride, Eva's less lovely sister, has done the same, a few weeks behind Eva, but she also suffers from many "double-fruits" which often split and rot near ripening. This commonly occurs after late summer drought—I need to monitor Mid Pride's drip line this year to make sure she's getting the water she needs. Neither of my nectarines this year are suffering from overbearing, and the mysterious White Tiger is just thinking about beginning to bloom, far behind its prunus cousins.

A small branch before thinning. The ten inch branch has ten fruit on it, far too much for it to bear.

Here is Eva's Pride after thinning some of it. The small branch in the picture above now has three fruit, probably still one too many.

So much fruit that won't be.

Misshapen and doubled Mid Pride peachlings.

Today, I thinned my peaches. Trees benefit from early thinning, as the earlier competition is removed, the earlier the tree can focus on what will be its final crop. Commercial orchards thin trees to bear peaches every eight inches or so. I couldn't quite make myself be so strict. Instead, I removed all the smallish, misshapen, and most of the doubled fruit. I tried to leave, at the very least, four inches between each fruit. Eva's branches, already heavy with the young fruit, lifted after the thinning.

Looking at what I removed from the trees almost made me sad; it looked like pies and jams and dribbles of juice running down my chin that I wouldn't have. But looking back at the trees and seeing how much still clung to their branches was reassurance enough.

There will be peaches. And, I will share, after I've had my fill.


Gina said...

I rather enjoy the thinning and pruning process. There's something cathartic about it. Thank you for the reminder to go out and de-peach my August Pride peach this week.

Juicer said...
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