The first sign that it’s almost time to plant my yearly vegetable gardens is visible from my office window now.My two freestone Avalon peach trees have blossomed.
The site of peach buds popping on limbs gets me excited but leaves me anxiously wondering
“oh Dear, what if there’s a February or March freeze?”
It’s happened only once in 12 years although despite finger numbing early morning weather, my trees still produced bushels of tasty peaches plus and a record apricot crop. So,Mother Nature does even things out.
Winter also brings arm fulls of seed and root stock catalogs and because of unrelenting attacks by voles and squirrels on my two rows of front yard table fruit, I’m going to put in at least six new fruit trees this spring.
I love shopping for fruit trees. And this year I’m going to plant a couple of exotic avocados as well as a pair of guava trees and at least one mamey sapote. I love mamey aqua frescas. Aqua fresca-- made fruit pulp and water with minimal sweetening-- was a part of my childhood, growing up in Azusa, CA. I had completely forgotten how much I like mamey aqua fresca until I saw a big jar of it in the cocina (kitchen) of my local Vallartas supermarket. Two years later, i’ve ready to grow my own mamey.
Although mamey is a Central American fruit, there were two trees in the backyards of friends in Azusa.
It’s hard to describe to the taste of a drink based on mamey.Many people think it tastes like horchata,( which is made with a lot of sugar). like Horchata, mamey aqua fresca has a full texture, but it really tastes a little like a mix pumpkin and sweet potatoes. I suppose it’s an acquired taste, but it’s something I like and I know it doesn’t invoke penalties associated with drinks sweetened high fructose corn or cane sugar.
Mamey Sapote trees are about the same height as adult avocado trees (30 feet) but don’t require as much water as that species.
Buying fruit or premium avocado cultivars doesn’t require a home equity loan. In fact, local nurseries here in San Diego County and 20 miles north in Riverside County offer the trees I need for a fraction of the price specialized nurseries charge. In my case, the savings amounts to more than $120, although the single supplier of mamey sapote rootstock gets $35 per tree in five gallon containers.
As importantly, buying locally cultivated root stock carries the implication that the young trees will thrive in local climates and soils. An important consideration for many types of avocados.
One of the critical things I've learned on the road to becoming Farmer Forbes is to plant deep and completely wrap each new tree’s root ball with chicken wire that has a mesh diameter that’s too small to let marauding gophers, voles or squirrels gain access to tasty young roots..
Does the wire inhibit growth?
Not really since the growth force of most root balls is a steady Newton push. Eventually, established root balls will open up the chicken wire, allowing the trees to get better access to nutrients and ground water.
And by the time that happens i’ll be out among my trees at sunrise and sunset with a new Beeman competition air rifle, waiting for the furry little marauders to pop their heads out of burrows.
I garden, therefore I am.-- Jim”Farmer”Forbes on 1/24/2014