The Urban Gardener: Late-Summer Peach + Pear Trees
Saturday, August 31, 2013
Do you live in Providence and dream of wide country sides, green, lush, and full? Condensed RI is full of green thumbs and yours can thrive too. I found an undeveloped lot in an old Providence and here’s what’s happened from a regimen of organic gardening done on a shoe string and hope. Let me share the triumphs and victories of the re-cycler, of returning more to the earth than taking, and the many spiritual and physical rewards of the urban gardener.
I mix up vegetables, flowers, herbs, berries and fruits. Each genre has their special merits. Our climate permits nearly year round gardening and I make the most in my city plot. Far from being isolated from birds and wildlife my green space attracts many birds and animals. Sure I’m not keen on some. But in our diverse world, life is wonderful and nothing amazes the mind, lifts the spirit or nourishes the soul as well as hummingbirds darting between beebalm and salvia. Let me guide you in simple ways towards a plot of your own.
Each gardener has a signature and no creative act is as accessible as the garden: whether a flower pot or large garden space.
My Fruit Trees
Late August has many triumphs and a sense of the divine. Let’s take a look at two success stories you can grow too. My fruit trees are only 28 months old.
I'm so proud of my Asian pears. Grow some in your garden. The fruits will expand to twice this size and burden the dwarf tree under tons of flavor and aroma. You may say, “But I don’t have the space” or “Fruits require pruning and sprays”. Don’t let anything get in the way. You can grow these delicious fruits in a confined space. This tree is under 3 years old and has never been sprayed. Pruning was minimal and common sense. Challenge free? No, one must wait and watch from lovely spring bloom to the harvest. Picking is as easy as butter. I bought the broomstick size tree looking little more than a stick and planted in April of 2011.
A tip for planting trees: this is a spiritual act, be thoughtful and reach within for gratitude and hope. The future is now. Dig a $100 hole for a $10 tree. By that I mean mix compost, bonemeal, 10-10-10 fertilizer, a handful of dolomite pelletized limestone and lots of love. Then, gently plant the dormant tree firmly in the ground with the soil matching the obvious soil line on the nursery stock. Tamp down and water. You may wish to stake the tree, again, gently but firmly. Fruit trees do best in full sunlight. I had 23 pears the first year, you’re looking at the second year’s crop. Compare prices in the market for these oriental beauties, so flavorful, nutritious and lovely. Each of my trees cost $21.
The heavy laden branches of the dwarf Asian pear groans under the many fruits.
Along with pears I planted peaches. Who doesn’t enjoy a fuzzy fragrant peach? The versions are endless: with ice cream, in pies, spread as a preserve on fresh bread, or happily, straight from the tree.
Peaches and Pears
I live on a side street between two side streets in a neighborhood of old houses. A street light offers light at all hours to my garden. There is mystery however as I live surrounded by fences and hedges. I created a hollow square. Grassy lanes are the boundaries, perennial borders surround the garden and a large planting area takes up the center.
Stones salvaged from demolition sites are historic reminders of our city’s ancient past, each individually crafted from granite, brownstone, marble and slate. I do not add to pavement. The stones define spaces. From within these footprints I grow upwards and planted 3 apricots, 3 pears and 3 peaches. Each is a different variety, all are dwarves. Look at the beautiful peaches.
Planted in the same way and same day as the pears, the peaches have soared to 12 feet. I grow many plants in the garden, often swooping with gardener friends, sometimes purchasing sale items, and I save seeds.
Peaches do require more attention than many other plants, the rewards are all too evident. Those pictured have never been sprayed. After a sorry documentary on the decline of honeybees and other native pollinators in China I watched people pollinate their pears with artist’s brushes. Inspired, I did the same with these trees. The pollination did not take up a lot of precious time, cost only a cheap artist’s watercolor brush, and simply involved daubing the pistols and stamens of each bloom. Or rather, as many blooms as I could easily reach. I thinned the resulting multitude of small fruits to allow free air circulation around each peach, pear or apricot.
The main enemies are squirrels. I catch my local predators in Have a Heart traps for release far away. I ruthlessly pick any fruit that show disease and bury deep in the garden soil. But most of all, I enjoy. I love to test the fruits for ripeness. I often pray nearby. I breath deep and enjoy the lovely aroma. Sometimes I bite into a fruit and test for ripeness. The time is now. Sweet juices drip down my face and stain my shirt with happy memories.
Garden my friends, fill your life with kindness, health, and beauty. It’s well within your grasp. Reach out to community gardens, empty lots, or that patch of lawn that never really does so much from so little.
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