By Susan Taylor
San Diego has had so much rain that while gardeners can continue to start cool weather crops we can also give the soil a break and think about other garden projects. The ground, beds and pots are all saturated so we can leave them alone for a bit.
This is the season to prune roses and stone fruit trees (plums, peaches and so on). AND, it is also time to plant new roses and fruit trees as well. Nurseries are flooded with bare root roses and trees. Bare root means that the plant was grown to be transplanted and is packed carefully for purchase and planting into your space!
Some nurseries hold their stone fruit trees in a mixture of sawdust and soil to care for them until sold. Stone fruits are deciduous (lose their leaves in the fall) and include apricots, plums, peaches and the like. Some include including grafting with more than one variety on a single tree. There are also hybrids like pluots (combined plum and apricot) that are quite tasty. You can also plant some tropicals and nuts, like almonds at this time. Consider cherries as well.
If you have the fruit tree passion that I do, do some homework before shopping. I recommend shopping for fruit trees at local nurseries such as Anderson’s (in Poway and on Enterprise Street in town), Grangettos, Hunter’s in Spring Valley and the Evergreen locations. San Diego is just rich with nurseries with great stock, although I am not as familiar enough with the ones in North County.
Be ready to plant within a day or so of your purchase. That means pick a sunny site and have the hole already dug! When selecting trees be sure to read the tag to know if your tree is self fruitful or needs a nearby ‘cousin’ to help with fruit production. Feed new trees lightly. A cup of fertilizer will be perfect.
There are so many varieties of fruit trees it helps to shop with a few in mind. I recommend looking at Dave Wilson’s Nursery website for lots of good information about the tried, true, new and fabulous fruit trees. If you have gophers as I do, be sure to enclose the roots in some kind of wire basket or similar wrap to keep the gophers from enjoying your fruit first.
These days you can plant up to three or four stone fruit trees in one big hole! This is a good practice for saving space on smaller lots. I have friends who have peaches from June to September from just one tree! Any hole for a tree should be at least 3 feet wide on all sides. Plant your trees carefully, spreading out the roots over a small mound in the hole and cover them completely. Do not plant above the bud union, which is the knobby looking thing near the bottom of the trunk.
Staking these trees should not be necessary just be sure they are planted firmly. Plant carefully and water. Wait and watch. I like to make a basin around my fruit trees to help hold the water and drain nicely. There is a lot of information about all this on the internet, just choose a reputable site. You can also talk to the nurseryman where you are shopping…not the sales rep. If you’re not sure who is who, ask for the nurseryman who can help you.
If roses are your thing, now is also the time to plant new, bare root roses. Those already in your garden should be pruned and cleaned up. There are hundreds of different roses…maybe you’ve noticed some while walking around your neighborhood. Find out what does well where you live. What, you’re not walking around the neighborhood? Try it; it’s especially fun with four little dogs!
I have about twenty fruit trees in front so I know all the neighbors because they want to talk about the trees. For roses, I prefer highly fragrant ones that are red, rose or pink colors. Keep in mind that roses are heavy feeders throughout their growing season. Try to buy roses that are not too leafed out and look fresh (as in not packed up already for months). I also put roses in a wire basket on my property.
I realize that this is a lot of information about fruit trees and roses. That’s because I LOVE fruit trees. I have friends who successfully grown cherries, mangoes, apriums and so on locally and have so much fun with them!
If you have questions about all this, write to me at the Free Press or my green email address, email@example.com.
Remember, the best day to plant a tree was twenty years ago, and the second best day is today!
Thank you for this, Susan. I love fruit trees and grow them myself.
But I have a brown thumb. My lime tree has leaves that are yellowing. Also, I heard that during the first year or two after planting fruit trees, you should pick the fruit off early and throw them away, so that the tree and use the energy to grow and become strong. Is that true?
I also wanted to make a little plug for a nursery in Bonita, CA that has over 1,000 varieties of fruit trees: http://www.bonitafruittrees.com/index.html
They’re called Bonita Fruit Trees and they are great!
Hi Barbara, always great to know another fruit tree lover, and thanks for the tip about Bonita Fruit Trees! I’ll visit them soon. Yellowing citrus leaves are often caused by over watering or too much fertilizer…wonder if you think these apply to your lime tree? Overwatering and under watering frequently have the same symptoms, yellowing and limp leaves. My citrus are mature (as in at least three years old) and I water them, a deep soak, about every two to three weeks and this seems to work. Citrus are also fairly heavy feeders so be sure you give them a good dose of either compost or citrus food frequently. Let me know how any of this works for you.
As to young trees and picking off the fruit the first year or so, I do think that is a good practice. It hurts, I know,to pluck off new fruit on a new tree but the end results are worth the wait. I also pull immature fruit off most of my stone fruit trees because the twin or triplet setting of fruit is unrealistic for best production of quality fruit. I twist/pull fruit off early in the setting and then go back and do it again in a few weeks. Your fruit quality will be much improved if you do this. Good questions from you and let me know how your trees do this year. Susan
Jim Bliesner says
The leaves on my lemon tree are curled up and small. What can I do to correct this? Wash them? Or is there a natural response.
Jim, is there anything on the underside of the leaves? If so, you should hard spray that stuff off! Does the tree get enough sun, water and fertilizer? Please let me know.