Our Summer Fruit Harvest: Not a Bumper Crop Year

summer fruit harvest

If you have been following my blog for a while, since I was just on Tumblr and before I started this WordPress blog, you may remember how we had quite a large selection of summer fruit that I was able to grow and harvest last year. I worked really hard all spring prepping our garden for the summer season, and it definitely paid off. This year, things were quite different.

Since I was laid up all spring, I was not able to put the same prep work into our garden this year. As a result, the production rate significantly declined on all of our fruit trees and vines. The photo above shows pretty much our entire summer harvest (with the exception of a few berries that I have eaten as they have gotten ripe). It is pretty disappointing.

The first problem with the garden this year started with the peaches. The local birds attacked all the peaches on the baby tree in the backyard, so we still have not had a chance to sample the peaches from that tree yet. The peaches on the mature tree in our front yard are absolutely amazing, and I was really looking forward to them. When I got really sick a little over a month ago, the peaches were just about due to start getting ripe. When we got back from the hospital, all I wanted for some reason was one of those peaches. When my husband went to get one, he noticed that they were all gone. Someone or something had taken every last peach on the tree while we were at the hospital. My money is on someone since animals know better than to take unripe fruit, and all of the peaches were definitely not ripe at the same time.

The raspberries, blackberries and apples all produced a bit of fruit, but way low quantities in comparison to last year. The good thing is there is always time to improve for next year!

Last year we had this same problem, and I totally wish I had the chance to take some preventative measures this time, but I got overwhelmed by the whole new-mom thing. Something eats almost all of our grapes. We have 5 or 6 individual grape vine plants, and the basket above was our entire harvest for the season. I’m not sure if it is the squirrel, birds or the raccoons, but someone gets them before we have a chance. I’m definitely going to try putting netting over them next year.

The most disappointing problem of all this year was with our fig tree. We have a huge, mature fig tree in our backyard. Last year I canned as much fig preserves as I could, but a lot of them definitely went to waste since canning out in the patio with the barbeque was a huge pain (our kitchen was still in the middle of being remodeled last year at this time). I was really looking forward to trying out a whole bunch of things with the figs now that we have a kitchen. Last week, I saw that the majority of the figs were ready to be picked. I put it on my to-do list for the week, and planned to get started preserving them and trying out some new recipes. The day I went out to pick them, I discovered that every last fig had been eaten by a swarm of enormous beetles. I was so disappointed, especially since I had just seen tons of them on the tree the day before. I am 100% committed to organic gardening, so I don’t want to use a pesticide next year to prevent this from happening again, but I don’t quite know what to do to prevent that from happening again. Maybe I should harvest the figs just before they are ripe? Anyone have any tips on growing figs organically?

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Gardening Lessons Learned the Hard Way: Mature Fruit Trees

I have had the pleasure of living next to many mature fruit trees at the variety of places I have lived over the years, and they are always a welcome joy.  Mature fruit trees are very easy to care for.  Normally they just need to be fertilized about once per season (varies depending on variety of tree), and pruned once a year.  They don’t require much if any watering other than what they naturally get from ground water and the little rainfall we get here in Southern California.

When we moved into our new house, we were very excited to find out that years ago someone had planted a fig tree in our backyard.  We still do not understand why they planted a tree that can grow to be 50 feet tall in a raised retaining wall brick planter, and not directly in the ground next to it.  Perhaps they were attempting to control the size, but it seems that all it did was raise the tree higher.

At some point, someone also planted a pretty rose bush below the fig tree.  When we moved in, this rose bush (along with all of the others on our property) were looking very dehydrated and in very poor condition.  I started fertilizing and watering the roses regularly in order to try to revive them.  Roses need a lot of water to thrive, and are definitely not the most drought friendly plants.

Unfortunately, mature fruit trees do not appreciate tons of water near their roots.  Fig trees in particular are a Mediterranean tree, and thrive in drier conditions.  I started getting under-ripe yet rotten fruit dropping.  I finally figured out that the figs are rotting before they had a chance to ripen from the excess water they were getting from being near the roses.  One of the poor fig tree’s roots even poked up above the dirt!

The rotten fruit has all either been eaten by critters or added to the compost bin.  I am trying to find a good watering balance to allow the roses to survive (even if they don’t thrive), and prevent the fig tree from getting root rot.  It will be an experiment that I am hoping will go well.  I am planning to definitely relocate this rose bush once it is dormant.

When planning a garden, it is so important to take into consideration how certain plants will fare together when placing them next to each other.  Place plants with similar water, light, and soil requirements near each other.  Roses do their best with more sunlight than being under a big shady tree provides, so all the way around, this is a horrible location for this poor rose bush.  If you notice in the pictures, the rose bush is starting to reach out in all kinds of strange directions, searching for enough sunlight to survive.

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