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....