That Sweet, Sweet Payoff

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

And so it begins. Summer fresh fruit season has arrived at last at our North Natomas homestead -- and despite our misadventure with the Lapin Cherry tree earlier this year -- this harvest looks sweet.

Sweet as bubblegum that is.

This year's harvest of Santa Rosa plums will not be a large one -- not hardly. Larger than last year? By all means. But what is really impressive this year is the size of these suckers. They darn near look like nectarines.

I have been watching and patiently waiting for the Santa Rosa harvest for a couple of weeks now. Unlike last year -- I didn't want to jump the gun and harvest a plum that really could have used another week or two on the tree.

Nope -- I'm looking for that special type of harvest -- a special time -- when the fruit is both sweet and tart. If you pick too early? Lots of tart -- no sweet. If you pick it too late? Sweet fruit -- yes -- but also kind of mushy.

And -- usually -- the birds have beaten you too it. Not the North Natomas Birds -- but those of the feathered variety.

Actually -- I am kind of surprised. Although we have several finch families nesting nearby -- they've largely left the plums alone. Nothing has been knocked to the ground yet and only one plum has suffered from a single "peck."

Those are pretty good results.

The harvest of the Santa Rosa plum tree -- or any fruit tree for that matter -- is the final payoff following months of special care and attention. Oh sure -- I know for a fact that there are fruit trees that get absolutely no care and attention whatsoever -- and still manage to turn out a boatload of fresh fruit.

Most of the time? It goes uncollected and "plops" to the ground below. Or it turns into bird food.

But in my case? I care. I can be accused of "caring too much," but this year's harvest is the result of pruning efforts during the winter, extensive fertilization, regular watering, pest control to knock the buggies off and perhaps a midnight dance or love song sung from the front yard porch.

Crazy? Who? Me? Yeah, the neighbors think the same thing too.

But that sweet payoff came just last night. Venus and I both discovered a plum that had the slightest give to a light squeeze. Off with its head!!! Actually -- we picked it -- brought it inside -- cleaned it and sliced it in two.

When the pit popped right out with nary an effort? We both knew -- right then -- that summer fruit season was underway. One bite of one perfectly ripe plum is enough to convince you that all the work -- time and effort was worth it. There are lots of plums and plum trees mind you -- but ours is the best.

This is our all important third year harvest of the Santa Rosa plum. It's not all that large because Venus and I hacked the tree back into a more manageable size over the winter -- cutting away a lot of the growth that would have produced a boatload of hard-to-reach plums this summer. We knew our pruning efforts would result in a reduced harvest -- but it's one of those things that just had to be done.

While the tree will need additional pruning later this summer -- it's now growing in the direction that we want. Rather than have it grow UP -- Venus and I have trimmed and pruned to the point where the tree is growing out in an almost perpendicular direction.

Still to come? Grafting efforts of other plum varieties that will extend the sweet harvest. But we'll save that for another day.

As for now? Time for that sweet, sweet payoff.


Brown Thumb Mama said...

Fantastic! I see pies and cobblers in your future...

LauraBee said...

I have enough sweet-tart Santa Rosas to share with the neighborhood, the office, my husband's office and still have enough to eat fresh, to dry, & to make tarts & jellies. And without fertilizing, spraying, or pruning - you might be over-doing it, Bill. But my tree is 6 years old now - maybe that's the diff.

I did have to sacrifice parts to the birds, though. Why can't they eat a whole fruit before moving along to the next one ?

Bill Bird said...


A certain gardening mentor of mine has accused me of "overdoing it" on more than one occassion. Perhaps I should listen to him more often?

Then again -- he also advised me to start pruning the tree too. Of course -- I just might be a terrible pruner as well.

After bragging in the posting that the birds had left my plums alone -- I returned home two hours later to find that three delicious plums had been knocked from the tree and were half-eaten.

It's either birds -- or voles. We appear to have a large vole problem out here this year...The cats have now managed to catch four (that I know of). Those a record numbers for June.