Monday, June 7, 2010

How to thin an Apricot Tree

I am not professing to be a pro at this at all. I just thought a visual aid might be helpful for some people out there who need/want to thin their Apricot tree.

You see, I am living in the detached house of my only living grandparent which is a huge blessing. Being close to family is wonderful. And the home is just the right size for our growing family. And one of the best things is the yard. We've been able to garden and spruce up the wildly grown place a bit. It's a bit heaven here. I sit and write this and I can feel the cool breeze of the night and hear the wind gently caressing the leaves of the trees. Another of the greatest features of the yard are these mature trees. Everyday I hear a thud on our roof. I've finally learned that it's falling pine cones hitting the rooftop and sometimes rolling off. But I digress.

There is an apricot tree. Perfect for eating, drying and jam making. Yum! But the better fruit will come from a better tended tree. I called over an experienced neighbor to give me a tutorial and his wisdom on the subject was most helpful.

And today I thinned a tree for the first time ever. Yes, I'm a novice. I'm pretty sure you can find a better lesson on thinning an apricot tree than this one. But they probably won't have cute kids, robins eggs or shady pictures.

Here are the basic steps as how to thin an apricot tree.

First preparatory steps.

Gather the troops!

Don't they all just look thrilled?

Beware of mother Robins and nesting residences. There may also be a few resident spiders as well.

Now for the dirty work.

Apricot trees need infrequent but long periods of watering. The grass around the base takes the moisture before it can really get to the tree so I dug it up a bit and then sprayed it with Round Up to kill it. Because the irrigation does not reach this tree I dug trenches, on either side.

They are about 5 apricots deep. These are used to pool with water. Turn the hose to a flow heavier than a trickle for several hours at a time, in each trench. This need only be one 1-2 times a week, max. The water needs to seep in slowly and really get to the roots. This makes the tree happy.

Now for the thinning part, and consequently the longest.
You have to pick the fruit off. I felt like I was murdering these poor little fruits but it must be done! Get the vengeance out! You have to thin trees in order to let the remaining fruit have space to grow. I read somewhere that although you get fewer fruits they weigh as much as you would if you had a bunch of tiny ones. Plus, who likes to eat a pit with a bit of fruit attached anyhow?

So thin the thing. Take the fruit in between about every 3 inches, see my finger length? Make sure there is a fruit every finger length and then discard everything in between. Just chuck them on the ground below. Try not to hit your kids in the head in the process.

See how the fruit in the middle is gone now! Do this along each branch from top to bottom.

Then enlist your helpers. Boys especially like to pick and chuck things, don't they?

I had to carefully show Samuel which fruits to pick so he wasn't just picking every single one off! It made things go a bit slower but he loved to pull and throw.

Your ground will look like this after a while, several hours for me. Then bribe, pay or force your kids (or yourself :) ) to pick all of them up! If I would have known there would be so many I would have laid down a tarp before thinning to catch all the fruit. The clean up would have been less time consuming and laborious.

Oh, and be sure not to disturb any residences. Mother Robin was just as scared of me as I was of her flying out.

Now wait about a month and watch for growth! Yay!

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