As we stood looking at my Apricot tree, the person in front of me remarked, “Most Apricot trees are not that big.”. The person was a tree doctor of some kind, but she could have added beautiful, because my big, huge, unmanageable tree is also beautiful in not only full bloom, but, to me, in its unstructured-self that doesn’t lend itself well in producing edible fruit. The tree is too tall and I think she was telling me that, without great harm to man or the tree, there was no easy way to bring the fruit growing branches closer to the ground.
Most apricot trees have small fruit, mine doesn’t. The fruit, while good tasting, are the size of peaches. They are also attacked by some kind of a beetle that attacks the top fruit, then works its way down to the lower branches of the tree. What works for me is to hand-pick the fruit before they are ready to fall and then finish ripening and then cull-out all the insect damaged fruit.
Because of my method (madness?), time and access to fruit is critical. This year everything seemed to ripen and become infected by insects all at once and out of reach. I salvaged some fruit, which I was able to dry, but the rest went fast and rotted into the ground. This is not something I enjoy happening. The smell and sight of the rotting fruit is not pleasant.
The process of harvesting the fruit was not helped by my pruning last year. I tried to lower the amount of fruit that was not suitable for processing by cutting the higher limbs and making all the fruit accessible from the lower limbs, which are still nearly 10 feet of the ground. This pruning opened up light throughout the tree’s umbra. I wanted to be able to reach all the fruit from a ladder on the ground.
But my efforts in getting all the fruit closer to an accessible point closer to the ground didn’t work as planned. All the fruit ripened at the same time and the insects took-over the entire trees, instead of only their half.
I think I could keep the process of making use of the tree’s fruit by letting it grow more and working from a greater height, but I think it is time to let the seedlings take over. I need to find the best position to plant them and then let them reorient my way of collecting the fruit. Besides, the people who really admired the tree’s beauty are gone, and I am not sure if the new neighbors will miss beauty that they haven’t really seen.
I mean all the fruit is edible, but, any more, it has been hard for me to claim my human share. Much of the fruit goes to insects, which I try and do put much of it back into the soil.
But it is harder every year for me to make use of the tree. I am getting too old to be climbing trees and It used to be that we had one good harvest year in about every three years of the tree’s life, but that is changing and this year I couldn’t act quickly enough or at the correct tempo to take care of the fruit.
But there is hope. I have manage to raise two Apricot trees that I got from seedlings from under the tree. They grew great fruit this year which I feel I will be able to manage, once they get transplanted into a permanent position next to the new house springing up from where the big Apricot tree was once.