Tag Archives: Bug

Bug gets a Tree

24 Apr

When we bought our house, it was clear that no one had loved this place in quite awhile.  Everything basically works, but there was nothing extra and no attention to detail. The house was a rental for four years or so before we moved in and from all reports it was a real hard livin’ four years. In the nine months we’ve been here we’ve been slowly working through each room trying to make it shine again (with our limited budget, this is not a complete overhaul!)

Any work inside the house has come to a complete standstill these days though. As you maybe can see reflected in our recent posts – it is all about the garden. And, well, rightfully so.  It is so beautiful outside these days and the landscaping has been just as neglected as the rest of the house.  Plus, it is our intention to make the yard as edible a landscape as we possibly can.

Peach tree from a boxTo this end, and again cognizant of that limited budget, we put together a master plan for the yard to be implemented over the next couple years. That master plan includes a couple trees. Now, we don’t have a big yard. Our whole lot is just slightly more than 3,000 sq. ft., less than a tenth of an acre (just the way Bolt likes it, ask him about urban density some time…) But, the trees are important and an important part of a larger plan to make the District a truly great place to live. And despite the fact that they’ll take up quite a bit of our limited space we want to add several for their shade, beauty, permanence and fruit.

It was important, when we started making our plan, for us to plant at least one of the trees this year. Bolt suggested, almost as soon as we found out that I was pregnant, that we plant a tree this year in honor of the birth of our little boy-to-be.  It still makes me a little misty to think about. It is our living memorial to his life and the myriad ways in which his life will change ours. They will both grow and hopefully thrive, marking the passage of our time together. A little sappy maybe (pun intended), but it makes me really happy.

So, after a fair amount of somewhat agonizing research chronicled here, we decided on the tree we wanted.  It is a semi-dwarf peach tree (which will be our third fruit tree to join the fig trees that Bolt gave me for my birthday last year).  We decided on the Contender variety for its general pest and disease resistance and per The Farmer’s Almanac recommendation. After some more research, we bought a bare-root tree online and had it shipped to the house (a process that was totally painless and one that I don’t imagine will mimic Bug’s entrance into our lives).  This weekend it went into the ground.

The peach pit (pun also intended...)

The peach pit (pun also intended…)

Peach PitBolt reports that a 3ft x 2ft hole is really big and takes a while to dig. I report that it is still a little weird to me that I can get a tree in the mail.


The Tyranny of Too Many Choices

2 Apr

StellaI had a mini meltdown last night trying to pick out a mattress for Bug’s crib.  There are just too many options, all of which seem basically the same.  Amazon reviews are really only making it worse.  How can a mattress be both too firm and sag in the middle?  How can these stupid things make me feel like a bad mother even before I’ve given birth? Really people, this is just crazy talk.

I’m having a similar conundrum with our backyard. Bolt suggested that we plant a tree in our backyard to celebrate our little boy-to-be. Something we can point to for the rest of his life and say – ‘that tree is as old as you are.’ We decided, in order to make our back yard as edible as possible, to plant a peach tree.  We also want to plant a redbud tree in the front yard and take advantage of the Casey Tree’s rebate program, but that is another story.  (BTW, how amazing is it that our city and local non-profits keep practically paying us to plant things in our garden?)

However, have you ever looked at how many different kinds of peach trees there are?  So many. And, all, basically the same.  Luckily for me, reading about fruit trees is way more exciting than reading about crib mattresses. So, here are the criteria that I’m looking for:

  • Self-pollinating: We only want to plant one tree because we live on a pretty small city lot. So, if this thing is going to go, it is going to have to pollinate all on its own.
  • Dwarf: See above re: small city lot.
  • Freestone: for easier manipulation down the line (read, I will get more peach jam if the peaches are easier to process!)
  • Yellow: I always like the flavor of the yellow peaches better than the white variety.

That’s really all I’m going on. The Virginia Extension recommends the following trees:

Variety Ripening

Garnet Beauty July 17 Yellow flesh peaches small to medium – Cling Stone
Laural July 25 Medium, well colored freestone, recommended for trial
Redhaven Aug. 1 Medium size, very cold hardy, semi-cling stone
Rich Lady Aug. 1 Large, firm, well colored yellow fruit, recommended for trial
Topaz Aug. 7 Large, attractive freestone
Contender Aug. 10 Large, attractive freestone
Earnie’s Choice Aug. 12 Large, firm attractive, freestone
Loring Aug. 18 Very large, firm freestone
Harcrest Aug. 29 Medium to large, very attractive freestone
Fayette Sept. 6 Very large, firm, well colored, freestone
Encore Sept. 12 Large, firm, attractive freestone

But, they are focused on commercial production over home growth (not that their information isn’t useful.)  The Farmer’s Almanac also recommends Contender, as a favorite for zone 7. Also from the Almanac: although peaches are native to the Chinese countryside, the peach was brought to the western world from Iran.

Anyhow, I suspect that we’ve got some more research time ahead of us. Or at least one more visit to the greenhouse to stare wistfully at all of their trees.

Meyer Lemon buds April 1_2In the meantime, we need to continue caring for the fruit tree that we already have.  Our Meyer lemon tree got a dose of fertilizer back in February and the blooms look absolutely amazing.  We already have two little fruits growing away and a bunch of beautiful and beautifully smelling flowers blooming.  I can’t believe what the addition of that little bit of fertilizer did for the tree.

Seeing as all those flowers need to be pollinated, I spent some time this morning violating all those pistils and stamens with a Q-tip. Hopefully they will forgive me and bear lots of tasty fruit as a result. In the meantime, we (meaning Bolt, since even on a good day I can’t lift that ginormous pot) are watching the weather to see when we can move the lemon to its seasonal home in our backyard.  Sometime after the middle of this month we should be frost free and ready to go.  And then me and my Q-tip will play second fiddle to the bees.Pollinating