Sunday, April 9, 2017

Budding Fruit Trees and Blooming Flowers

Spring is in full force here with bright green leaves and blooming flowers.  That also means insects have started snacking on those fresh, green leaves.  My little orchard with three plum trees, three peaches, three pears and five apples has sprouted back to life.  Well, except for one apple tree that refuses to leaf out.  It does not feel brittle and dead, so I'm hoping he's just a late bloomer.  I planted all the fruit trees last year, except for three of the apples.  Most of the orchard has arrived at its second growing season, so I'm not expecting an abundant crop.  The three oldest apple trees are starting their fourth growing season, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that maybe we will harvest our first apple this year.  These three apple trees have begun to flower.

Black Twig Apple Tree Flower Buds
As the flowers bud and emerge, so do the insects that love to snack on the apple leaves and blossoms.  Little green caterpillars that I always called inch worms do much of the damage.  They are also called cankerworms here.  I sprayed the fruit trees with Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis), a bacteria that kills caterpillars.  I need to try banding my fruit trees in the fall with a sticky barrier that prevents the female moths from laying eggs in the trees.  Hopefully these caterpillars won't do enough damage to prevent me from getting a few apples this year.

Black Twig Apple Tree Blossoms
The caterpillars also eat the plum tree leaves, which have leafed out.  They did not produce any flowers this year.

Rosa Plum
The apple trees were the last to flower, which was a good thing due to our crazy warm winter. We had an extremely warm February that caused many of the fruit trees to blossom early, only to be met with a hard freeze in March.  The peach trees flowered and the frost destroyed almost all of the blossoms.  However, it appears that at least one flower survived and got pollinated.  Maybe, just maybe I will have one, delicious, juicy peach this summer!  Although note that as I took this picture, a tiny insect landed on the little peach.  I have I feeling I'm not the only one that wants a juicy piece of peach!

A tiny Julyprince peach
I'm also awaiting my first strawberry harvest.  The Seascape strawberries are small and green at this point.  I stalk them often, just in case they suddenly ripen and I need to beat the squirrels to a delicious berry.

Seascape Strawberries
Dianthus, phlox, clematis and hellebore make up the spring show in my front flower bed with bright pink and purple blooms.  I need to continue to fill the space.  I tend to neglect the ornamentals in my landscape for the edible plants.

Front Flower Bed
Another ornamental beginning to bloom is the Cherokee Brave dogwood.

Cherokee Brave Dogwood
The beneficial bug wildflower bed next to the vegetable garden has flowering clovers, Siberian wallflower and baby blue eyes.  I discovered the downfall of planting wildflowers next to the vegetable garden is that the seeds disperse all over the beds.  I think the black-eyed susans could easily colonize the entire garden!
Beneficial Bug Flower Bed
From the vegetable garden, I have been harvesting spring crops.  I pulled some of the overwintering carrots (1 lb, 6 oz) and spring planted cherry belle radishes.  I neglected to take photos of all the greens that have been coming out of the garden: lettuce, Swiss chard, spinach and cabbage.  I made an Asian coleslaw with cabbage and carrots along with a quiche with the Swiss chard.  I've been eating plenty of salads with lettuce, carrots and radishes.

Overwintering carrots and spring radishes

It tastes and looks like spring around here!


  1. Oh, how wonderful that you are eating so well from your garden already! It will be at least another month or so before we get anything and even then it will only be some early greens.

    The possibility of that first apple is SO exciting! My trees are only going on their third year right now but one of them has fruited every year so far (I think it's the Granny Smith). I've picked off the baby fruits so that the tree sends more of it's energy into the roots, but I'm thinking that I may let a few mature this year - my patience can only last so long!

    1. I'm impressed by your patience! One of my apples has produced a lot of flowers and I know if it tries to produce that many apples then I need to thin them drastically, but that's going to be sooo hard to do!

  2. You certainly have a few critters to contend with. I hope you get that peach.

    The wildflowers are beautiful. Pity they are taking over but I love their colours.

    I must say that I also give the edible plants more attention. I will be planting some more hellebores very soon though.

    I'm a big veggie eater and love salads. How good it must feel for you to make all those lovely salads from your own backyard.


    1. This week I discovered that there are two more tiny peaches! So maybe, just maybe I'll get one of them! I do love hellebores. I had two, one didn't survive, but the other one looks really healthy.

  3. Lovely that your fruit trees are flowering but obvously the bugs think it's a good deal for them too. Have you tried spraying with soapy water that has had crushed garlic cloves soaked in it? The grubs/bugs dislike it and you need to keep reapplying it after it rains. If you have the names of all the apple trees then check their reproduction cycles as you may have a mid or late variety, with the odd one out, so you will have a longer season with your apples :)! Jumper and jeans weather starting here......brrrr.

    1. I love that phrase.. "jumper and jeans weather" I will have to remember that when fall arrives here. My slow apple tree did finally produce some leaves! I haven't tried a garlic and soap spray yet. I usually use neem oil, although I was wanting to try some kaolin clay that basically coats the fruit to keep the bugs out.