Welcome to 2024, we all made it, and that alone is cause for jubilation. I can feel the sun setting just a little bit later every day now. Though we have the bulk of the winter and the wet to survive, I can smell Spring right around the corner. These outrageously early narcissus, variety China Peak, popped up to give me hope.
Prune and Snip and Shape and Saw
This is the time of year I prune the majority of our 1500 or so trees and perennial shrubs. It’s a lot. And also my favorite of farm chores. To shape a tree from a new stick into a thriving producing mature tree is a wonder, an exercise in extreme patience, a meditation over time.
Late Winter is the Best Time to Plant New Trees
With all of this lovely rain we have been getting, the ground is soft and receptive, welcoming deep roots spreading wide. Since a lot of people have asked, I want to share my favorite places to get new fruit trees. I am not affiliated with any of these companies, but I have bought trees of good quality from them in the past.
Remember, winter is time to plant deciduous trees, ones whose leaves fall in the winter. Save planting semi-tropicals like citrus and avocados for the spring.
Some of the rarer varieties will be sold out online by now. Set yourself a reminder to order this Fall around September/October when they will be available again.
Buying Trees Locally
I always try to shop local first, and we have an abundance of great gardening stores and nurseries in our area. I look to these places first, but I tend to find the rare and more exotic fruit varieties online. Let’s start with our local small businesses.
Sierra Azul is about a mile from our farm, very close the fairgrounds. If you haven’t visited them before, it’s well worth stopping by to see and stroll amongst their sculpture garden alone. They also have a great selection of bare root trees that just arrived this week.
Aladdin Nursery and Gift Shop is another local treasure that has been family owned in Corralitos for over 100 years. Gustavo the proprietor is a delightful individual, full of plant knowledge and kindness.
San Lorenzo Lumber and Garden Center on River St in Santa Cruz has one of the largest local selections of plants, trees and gardening essentials.
Dig Gardens in Aptos and Santa Cruz has a fantastic curated selection of quality plants. Their Aptos location is larger and has more fruit trees.
Right here in La Selva Beach, Ellen Baker and Freddy Menge offer a fascinating collection of avocado trees selected to thrive in our climate. I have a bunch of them flourishing and fruiting at the top of our orchard.
Online Tree Sellers
I’d say 75-80% or so of our trees come from online sources. With over 5000 known cultivars of apples alone, no single storefront in Santa Cruz County could possibly offer even a small fraction of the tree varieties available. I’ve had great success with quality online tree orders. That said, I do try to order from sources closer rather than far away, with a bias towards west coast growers. Shipping is hard on plants, and getting healthy trees from the east coast in the middle of winter can be challenging.
Some online sellers will be sold out of some varieties by now. If so, mark your calendar to check back in September when the next seasons sales usually start.
Trees of Antiquity is hands down my very favorite place to buy trees. They focus on heirloom varieties, and grow them in San Luis Obispo county so the tree stock is used to a similar climate to ours. They are also a family business and have been a pleasure to work with for ten years straight. Even though we are only replacing a few trees here and there in our orchard each year now, I can’t resist ordering a few from them every season.
One Green World is up in Portland, OR and carries a staggering amount of interesting plants and trees. I wish I could go there in person, but their shipped plants have been great.
Raintree Nursery is in Washington State with another extensive collection of fruit trees, bushes and plants as well as great tools too. I’ve gotten a few trees from them I have found nowhere else.
Grow Organic (Peaceful Valley) is one of the largest online sellers of all things garden and food growing related. They have a huge selection of seeds and plants as well as trees, and their customer service is stellar.
Four Winds Growers is based in Watsonville, but only sells online. They are famous nationwide for their fantastic citrus trees, but have branched out into other fruit trees and berries. All the citrus in our orchard comes from them.
Next Month: Flower Starts, Figs, Daffodils & Bareroot Roses
February is shaping up to be a great month on the farm. We planted a lot more daffodils, and I am hoping to open the orchard to you pick daffodils sometime next month.
For fig lovers, I am holding a fig propagation workshop. Learn how to grow your own fig trees and take home a bunch of cuttings to start too!
Sign up here
Next month I will have a limited amount of bare root and own root roses to sell as well as delphinium and other flowering starts. Depending on when the bare roots show up, I will schedule a sale and announce it here as well as on Instagram and Facebook.
Edible Monterey recently published a bit of writing of mine, reflecting on ten years at this farm. Some of you may enjoy reading about my Orchard Dreams here:
Finally, Lucy the emu has started laying eggs again, and if you have never seen an emu egg, well here you go! (chicken egg included in picture for size comparison)