Summer Shape Up

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Dwarf apricot tree photo by Toni Martinez
Dwarf apricot tree

In my small yard I have an abundance of fruit trees, including several types of citrus, banana, and stone fruits. Most of my stone fruit trees are dwarf trees because I want them to fit better in a more confined space.

This year I noticed that the trees produced far less fruit than last year. I have heard that some stone fruits may be cyclical in their production, heaver one year and sparse the next. I am really hoping that is the situation with mine. Nearly all of my stone fruit trees are less than five years old and were bare root “sticks” when I planted them, so I know that I must be patient with them.

I have to admit that they are doing much better since I put their irrigation on timers. My soil is a weird mixture of sand and clay, as well as rocks and ancient sea shells. In fact there are places in my yard that seem like they could have been middling piles for the ancient inhabitants because there are so many shells. In Baja, plants needs are not so much dictated by the amount of fertilizer they receive buy more by the amount of water available. I really hope that a year or so of timer irrigation will help with next year’s fruit production.

If increased growth is any indication, next year will be a whopper. My dwarf fruit trees have nearly doubled in size! I am doing a summer pruning right now. I understand that dwarf fruit trees need “reminding” of their stature during the summer to keep them in bounds.

I don’t espalier any of my fruit trees because that is far too much work for me! What I do is prune them in August to shape and confine them. The way that I do it is that I start by standing with my arms outstretched over my head. This is as tall as I want my tree to be so I can easily pick the fruit. I cut all branches to that height. I also use this time to cut back any branches that are intruding into any undesirable areas, as well as any that are growing downward and too low. I leave the hard pruning such as large branch removal until winter when my trees will be dormant.

I am not the best pruner, but I do try to keep my trees under control. And my fruit thinning really sucks because I have a hard time actually removing immature fruit from my trees because there is this little voice that keeps saying “But what if something happens to the ones that are left?”.

Santa Rosa plum in its glory
Santa Rosa plum in its glory

This was my Santa Rosa plum last summer. This summer it only had about a dozen plums. Thank goodness I still have some in the freezer!

One thought on “Summer Shape Up

    cristina said:
    August 27, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    Sooo jealous of your garden and all the yummies. Send me some 🙂


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