Thursday, June 14, 2012

Raising Fruit Trees

Fruit trees are my husband's passion.  I'm the gardener, he's the orchardist (is that a word?).  

It all started with a tiny fig tree that, over 6 years, has developed into a massive 12 foot, fruit-bearing, preserver's heaven, delight.  Last year was the first season we had enough for ourselves, the birds, AND canning.

We now have a crab apple tree, lemon, lime, orange, pomegranate, kumquat, and three pecan trees.  All of which are doing well.  I guess the armpit of the Gulf does offer its services in the area of warm sea air and mild winters, perfect for citrus trees.  

All of our fruit trees are kept in pots, except for the crab apple, pecans, and fig.  They do fine in the cold weather, however, citrus trees cannot tolerate freezing temperatures.  Keeping them in pots allows for easy transportation, either into the garage, or up against the house where they can be covered and protected from frost.   If we lived any farther north, we would have a greenhouse built to keep them in, but it's not at all necessary down here.

Two seasons ago, we met a man who had a massive fig tree in his yard, which he had raised for only three seasons.  My husband asked him how he came about having such a mature and productive tree in such a short amount of time.  His secret was manure tea.  He poured it around the base of the tree once a week.  It helps condition the soil, strengthens the roots, and aids in better absorption of minerals straight to the roots of your plant.  We tried it immediately and the results have been overwhelming.  We went from a few figs to a crop that became almost more than we could handle!

I also feed the citrus trees with Citrus~Tone, an organic product which helps build fruit production by allowing your blooms to set.  I only use it during the flowering season and in the fall after I harvest the fruit but before the tree becomes dormant.

Pecan trees grow very well in the south, my Papaw had a HUGE pecan tree in his front yard, and I remember many times when we'd go visit, collecting pecans and sitting on the living room floor shelling them and listening to my Papaw's fish stories.  I don't know that many of the pecans made it to my Memaw's freezer as most of them went into my mouth.  

Of all of the trees we have, the pecans are the only ones that need to be pollinated.  We have ours spaced about 30 feet apart, and all pollination is done in the spring, by the wind.  You don't want to plant your trees  too far apart or the pollinating won't be able to occur.

We don't store our citrus, but the pecans and figs sure are nice to have year round.

"Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is.  For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit."  Jeremiah 17:7-8

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