Spring unfolds, unfurls and explodes into color and deliciousness, once again. It’s profoundly reassuring to see green blanket the fields and trees. 2020 was a hard year in so many ways, and yet the first anemones and peach blossoms soothe and calm those memories with the promise of new life emergent, one more time around the sun.
I have been quiet this winter, not posting much, not sending out emails, but don’t be fooled. Winter is surprisingly busy on our farm. This is the time of year we fertilize all the trees and perennials, applying something like 2500 pounds of fertilizer all together this year. There’s more about how to fertilize your own fruit trees below.
I also do most of the pruning this time of year as well. I will hold some pruning workshops next year in the winter of 2022, promise, it’s my very favorite thing. In the meantime, if I can suggest one resource about pruning, it’s this book. It has specific instructions for hundreds of different kinds of trees and plants with excellent illustrations:
Pruning and Training, Revised New Edition: What, When, and How to Prune . Order it from Bookshop Santa Cruz here.
Roses Roses Roses … and a Puppy
My love affair with roses continues this year, with close to 200 more planted in our you pick cutting garden. That’s a lot of roses! I am super excited to be opening the expanded You Pick flower field back up in April with new flowers, and smaller buckets available for sale as well.
And if picking a bucket of delicious fragrant roses is not enough joy and fun … I will be getting a new puppy in April, and yes you can pet it :) I will be picking up Delphine early April and I could not be more excited. She is another Great Pyrenees, one of the little gnocchi in this picture.
A Gentle Reminder to Fertilize
If you haven’t done so already, now is the perfect time to fertilize all your trees and perennials. Any organic tree fertilizer you can get at your local nursery is a fine choice. I particularly like Gardner & Bloome fruit tree fertilizer which is available at many local nurseries as well as online. For Santa Cruz/Bay Area locals that need 50 pounds or more of fertilizer, I highly recommend buying in bulk from Boyer Fertilizer here in Watsonville for considerable cost savings. Give them a call, they are the nicest: https://www.boyerfertilizer.com/
A good rule of thumb is a pound of fertilizer for every inch of tree trunk diameter. Peaches and cherries are particularly heavy feeders, so they can take a pound and a half per inch of trunk diameter. Citrus trees are the hungriest fruit trees of them all, and they can be fed 3-4 times a year instead of just once.
Apply fertilizer in late February or early March in a doughnut shape around the tree, so that no fertilizer touches the tree trunk or 6 inches around it. Then create a ring of fertilizer between that empty center and the drip line, which is the outer edge of the trees branches. Work the fertilizer lightly into the soil with a rake and water in if there is no rain in the forecast for the next few days. How much fertilizer to use depends on the age of the tree.
For extra credit in tree love, put down a nice thick layer or mulch over your fertilizer and around your trees. We use shredded tree trimmings. Remember to apply the mulch in a doughnut shape as well, so that none of it is right up against the tree trunk which can cause rot.
One of the greatest pleasures this time of year is seeing the earliest spring flowers spring up and bloom from bulbs and corms. I know it’s hard to think about in March, but now is the time to order Fall planted bulbs, so if you are interested in seeing these beauties in your garden next year, pull out your favorite catalog or website and start ordering now.
Everyone knows daffodils, but wow, I am just now learning that there are so many more varieties than the basic yellow cups of my childhood. Daffodils are not only cheery and fragrant, they are also deer and gopher resistant. If that’s not enough, they come back and multiply year after year. I am thinking of ordering some crates of 350 bulbs each for this Fall. If anyone is interested in going in on this order with me, let me know!
My other early spring delights are anemones and ranunculus. They both grow from small innocuous corms that don’t look like much at all, but wow! do they pack a ton of blooms and color into a small space.
And the Fruit Season to Come
I am anticipating, if I dare jinx myself, an outstanding fruit season here at the farm. The Pink Ume, aka Prunus Mume, are already setting fruit!
After the Ume, we will be selling green walnuts, and with all fingers crossed, apricots in May/June. However, the bulk of our fruit production really kicks in at the end of June and early July with the plums and peaches starting to ripen.
I am so dang excited to see our peaches blossoming and leafing out with no peach leaf curl, a goal we have been working towards for years. We have done 2-3 sulfur sprays the past two winters, and that seems to have knocked the level of fungal infection back to almost zero. If you haven’t had a tree ripened peach, then you are in for such a treat this year at our farm.
Another new addition to the farm this year will be weekly farm tours, starting in April. If you ever wanted to roam the orchard, see 1000s of different fruit trees and perennial flowers, and ask me all your questions, now you can!
I look forward to seeing all of our local farm friends this spring and summer so SO much, after a solid year of quarantine, and hopefully some of our more distant friends as well. I have missed you! As always, if you have questions about your own trees or flowers, send me an email anytime :)