Clodo the Attaque Cat!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

It's a cat's life in the Backyard of Bird.

I mean -- what cat doesn't like birds? Clodomiro is like any other cat. He eats, sleeps and dreams about BIRDS. Does he catch them? Are you kidding? Clodomiro the Chicken Cat? The only way he's going to catch a bird is if one flies directly in his mouth and starts building a nest there.

Here's the Attaque Cat on the job one recent morning -- doing what I'd hoped he'd do -- and that is scare the birds away from the very last peach tree that is still in production. Backyard fruit tree production is starting to slow down a bit now. Fresh fruit season is nearly over I'm sad to say -- although I do get to look forward to quite the substantial pomegranate harvest later this fall.

More on that in a later post.

Not many people understand the name "Clodomiro." It's not even English. Heck -- it's not even Spanish, but is a close derivative there of. Clodomiro is pronounced "Clough-Dough-Meer-Oh." He's named after the title of a song penned by famed Nicaraguan folk artist Carlos Mejia Godoy. The song, CLODOMIRO EL √ĎAJO, loosely translated, is about a village idiot who doesn't quite get a message right, causing all sorts of trouble.

Venus and I traveled to the heart of the Sandinista Revolution, Esteli Nicaragua, shortly after we were married for the marriage of her brother. It was an eye-opening experience to say the least. It was the first time I'd been anywhere outside of the United States (Tijuana doesn't count), and it was there that I would discover Tonya and Victoria Beer served in champagne thick bottles, freshly fried potato chips, the legendary Carlos Mejia Godoy and the tune Clodomiro El √Ďajo.

When we adopted this kitten that tripped over his own paws some months later, we knew the perfect name for him. And so it was: Clodomiro.

I playfully named him "Clodo the Attaque Cat," but in all honesty, the only thing he's really adept at attacking is the nearest can of cat food -- or a comfortable spot on the couch. However -- he does do a good job in chasing annoying birds out of the peach tree to your right. And that's exactly what he's supposed to do.

My friends -- I give you the August fruit tree producer in our North Natomas backyard. This is the O'Henry Peach tree. It is the second year for this tree -- and by far the most productive. Unlike June Pride peaches -- which ripen in late June/early July -- the O'Henry doesn't start churning out ripe peaches until mid to late August. But -- once the ball starts rolling -- you begin to understand just why the O'Henry is such a treasured part of backyard orchard culture.

These peaches would make Clodomiro proud.

Now, before you haul off to your nearest nursery and buy the first O'Henry you can get your hands on -- let me deliver this warning. This peach tree is anything BUT a "plant and forget" tree. It requires a lot of special work and care. While it's true that the peaches will appear by the hundreds with just a simple regimen of fertlization and water, it will produce far too many peaches.

In other words, this tree needs to be culled. Not just once. Not just twice but regularly. The 30-to-40 peaches that we've harvested so far this year are probably less than 20% of the fruit that formed on the tree last spring. If I had allowed EVERY peach to stay on the tree -- you would see nothing more than a stump and broken branches. The O'Henry is a classic peach overachiever. It produces far more fruit than the body of the tree can handle.

If you can't bring yourself to remove and throw out anywhere from 60-80% of this tree's production -- it might be wise to invest in another tree.

But -- if you stick with it and cull regularly -- you are rewarded with daily harvests like you see to your left. These are rather smallish peaches for O'Henry production. As the tree begins to gain strength and size, the O'Henry will begin to produce peaches in the softball size range. But that's not the only draw of the O'Henry peach.

People plant and tend the O'Henry for one reason and one reason only: the incredible taste. This is also a "freestone" variety -- which means the pit pops out easily after you cut it open. You need to also exercise a bit of caution while cutting this variety open, however, as they are packed with sweet juices that can literally detonate in your hand once pierced with a knive.

Let me put it this way: If you love a peach juice shower -- you'll love the O'Henry.

The O'Henry peach is also famous for the red streak that you see down the center of the peach to your right. This is a sign that this piece of fruit is at its peak ripeness. If you catch that red streak running from pit to the cover -- you've picked that peach at its absolute zenith. You can't do any better.

Like any tree-ripened peach -- a bite of a tree-ripened O'Henry is a bite of heaven on earth. It is bubble-gum sweet with a firm texture -- and is perfect for eating fresh or peach pies or even peach cobbler. Even thought it is just the second year of production for this one tree -- it has kept us in fresh peaches for three weeks of breakfast fruit and at least two pies for after-dinner dessert.

This is just the start. The O'Henry peach will not reach optimum production until year five or six.

I hope my neighbors like fresh peaches. Or -- perhaps Clodo the Attaque Cat....


The Vintage Vignette said...

I just loved this post! We had several of these peach trees in our yard growing up as kids and man let me tell you that you have never had a peach fight until you have had a peach fight with a few of these overly ripe babies! Just one of these puppies to the back of the head of a retreating opponent would send juices flying for what seemed like a mile! Aaaaah the good 'ol' days. :)

Venus said...

Very cute!

Bill Bird said...

A friend of mine in Empire used to host similar fights on his family farm. But instead of peaches -- the ammo was walnuts. There's nothing quite like watching a well-hurled walnut literally explode on the back of some sucker's head. I know -- since I wasn't the fastest of kids nor the smartest -- and I got nailed plenty of times with ammo from the John Gordo walnut tree...

Angelo said...

Hi. It was very pleasing to look at your posts of doing and harvesting things in the garden. I myself am only 14 y/o but I managed to plant an O'Henry peach tree in my backyard with a plum tree from seed and a few zucchini and some roses. Gardening is hard work! Anyway, your post about the O'Henry peach tree has inspired me to take care of mine more than ever even though I've been treating it well already. At first I was dismayed to find that the O'Henry variety is not suited to the climate here in Willamette Valley Oregon but reading several posts has inspired me to keep trying to keep my tree alive in the hope that it will one day produce fruit for me. So far my effort has not been wasted because my small tree has been doing very well judging from its very vigorous growth. Who knew that a deprived, dead looking peach tree that was on clearance from Grocery Outlet would turn out like a very healthy tree from a nursery! Even though everyone in Oregon doesn't believe it will survive I am hoping it will and if it doesn't produce fruit at least I will get nice flowers. Anyway, thanks for posting. You have no idea how much these posts have touched me. OH, and BTW, do you guys spray your peach trees? If so, what do you use?

dave said...

I swear, Bill I bet your blog has done more for the local nurseries and garden centers than any newspaper ad. You got a way alright.

Bill Bird said...


You are simply too nice. And I'm not sure if Angelo will be able to see this reply (an email address would have been helpful -- but...). Growing the O'Henry from seed shouldn't be a problem -- I think. I'm just not sure. Most of the fruit trees I have in the yard come from grafted stock. That is -- the base of the tree is not O'Henry stock. The tree itself is. However, years ago, when I was a tad younger than you Angelo, I used to climb the neighbor's fence across the alley from my backyard and raid his kumkwat tree. He had the best one on the block. I took seeds from a couple of those kumkwats and planted them in my backyard and several of them did sprout. For many years, these small trees grew together until they combined and intertwined and became one BIG tree. We don't own that family home anymore, but the tree I planted from seed is still there Angelo -- and produces a huge crop of super-sweet kumkwats for the next generation of children that are growing up where I did.

Angelo said...

That is great to know you did something for the next generation who might live in that house by planting kumquat seeds. Now, one thing I did not mention clearly though was that I did NOT plant the O'Henry peach tree from seed. I planted the PLUM tree from seed. The O'Henry was the last lone dormant "ok looking" peach tree that was a clearance sale at Grocery Outlet. To be honest from what I have read through online sources I did not think it would survive but I just bought the tree for the heck of it. I watched and took care of it obsessively and fertilized it a bit. So far both the plum and the peach are doing very well. Especially the peach tree. The peach tree's branches doubled in diameter and the wood turned from dark brown to lighter lively-looking brown. The leaves are deep green. I don't think it will bear any peaches next year though seeing as it is about four feet tall with long scaffold branches. I think it will produce flowers though. It's nice to know that I actually made it survive without spraying so far. Now the real test is if it survives some of the snow and HEAVY rain in the spring. By the way, do you guys spray your peach trees with chemicals? I was thinking about doing that since there is a higher risk for peach disease in Oregon than California but I'm hesitant since I want to grow peaches organically. Anyway thank you for posting this again and responding to my comments. =)

Bill Bird said...


I subscribe to the "whatever works" theory of gardening. If I can get by with organic practices -- then I do. I encourage, for example, the production of ladybugs in the artichoke garden. I've come to discover that multitudes of ladybugs are the best protection against the various bugs that invade the artichoke plants every spring -- but eventually the bugs do take over.

As for peaches -- I've sprayed them once this year (all fruit trees got sprayed) with Volk Oil. Ortho sells it as a concentrate. I do not believe it's organic, but it does deliver a knockout punch against bugs -- and it doesn't seem to harm beneficial insects (I have a beehive in the backyard and the bees are fine). I had bug infestations in the plum tree this spring that moved to a peach tree -- but the Volk oil knocked them out. I only had to spray once.

Hardwood fruit trees like the O'Henry actually like cold weather. In fact, nothing helps a fruit tree better than a hard freeze every now and then. They get a nice, long sleep during the winter and really wake up happy and ready to go in the spring.

Angelo said...

Thank you so much for responding yet again to my post. I really appreciate it. I've decided what to do though. I definitely know that the peach tree will survive the winter but disease is the real problem for most Oregon Willamette Valley peach growers. Especially diseases like bacterial leaf spot, peach leaf curl, and peach tree borers. Now I have not had peach leaf curl so far even though it rained heavily in the spring and I didn't spray the tree. But I will probably spray the tree with something like an insecticide or maybe volk oil or even lime sulfur spray. It all depends on what is available. Anyway, thank you for responding to my questions/comments. At least now I feel more like I know what I'm doing. Thanks. ^_^

Angelo said...

Oh, and here is another archive I found about O'Henry peaches. It is pretty informative. Their peaches look great.

Bill Bird said...


A copper-based spray (you can find it at any Home Depot or Lowe's) will keep peach tree diseases like Leaf Curl and other problems at bay. I'll spray the trees during the winter months -- after the leaves have fallen. Twice is better than once, but even if I only get to it once during the dormant season -- the copper-base spray usually knocks out those diseases.

Try this link for more information:

Bill Bird said...

If that link was broken, try this one: