Friday, March 18, 2011

Apricots and Peaches

When my father was transferred from the east coast to Mather Air Force Base in California in 1954, it was a permanent move that meant looking for housing for our family of nine, with one more on the way. I will be forever grateful that he settled on a two-story house in a new subdivision with ¼ acre plots. Before we even got a fence built around the backyard, Dad had planted a mini-orchard with every available fruit and nut tree he was able to find. The mix included an apple, apricot, cherry, crabapple, French prune, fig, nectarine, almond, plum, and two peaches. For the next decade, Mom was busy in the kitchen during harvest season canning the fruit and making cobblers, pies, jams, jellies, and fruit filled cookies. The smells coming from the kitchen were wonderful!

But the orchard slowly deteriorated. The apple tree died first, then the nectarine and cherry. The other trees were declining at a slower rate but by the time they were around 15 years old, they were pretty much done. The fig and the almond were the last of the trees to go. The fig just fell over on its side one day and had to eventually be cut apart and removed. That left the almond, which gave us our beautiful “snow” every year when the blossoms fell. The tree had made it to a very old age, over 40 years, when a 50 mile-an-hour gust of wind took it down on a soggy, rainy night. The last of Dad’s orchard was gone.

Over the years the backyard became home to a number of shade trees to cool our home in the hot Sacramento summer: silver maple, sequoia, privet, camphor and loquat. Last fall a few of those trees had to be removed for being too close to the utility wires. That left some wide open spaces along the fenceline. I immediately thought of putting in some new fruit trees.

So just before the bareroot season was over, I bought a ‘Fantastic Elberta’ peach, with very showy double pink flowers in the spring, and a ‘Harcot’ Apricot which will give us a sweet, juicy fruit with an “especially rich apricot flavor”. Both have been planted with a mixture of soil amendments to add more nutrients and microbes to the soil. Our constant spring rain should help get the root system settled in and ready for the warmth of spring.

Now there is only one open space left. I’m seriously thinking about putting in another almond. Nothing beats having your own personal “snowfall” every spring and having a reminder of the magnificent orchard Dad planted many years ago.

almond blossom photograph courtesy of Yolo Farm Bureau

1 comment:

  1. Loquat is for cough and lung in Chinese medicine. Sometimes i would take the Ninjiom Pei Pa Koa which is an extract of loquat when got sore throat.

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