Apples to Oranges

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Garden Calendar

Watching your own fruit grow on a tree just outside you door is a good reminder of the seasons and the natural rhythms of nature. Trees don't grow in precise date defined stages. They react to the weather, the soil temperature, pests and amount of sunlight and water they receive. They even have direct responses to pruning.

If you choose your fruit trees wisely, you can have fruit almost year round in the Bay Area. Some of your late Winter citrus can remain on the tree into Spring. Cherries and plums are early, followed by peaches, pears and apples. Figs like many citrus have two crops. Even within one type of tree you can have a broad spectrum of ripening times from early to mid-season varieties. Apples have a particularly long season.

Pruning Schedules

The correct pruning season depends on the type of tree you have. There are exceptions to these guidelines, but they are a good starting point. More details on how to prune can be found on the How To page.

Pome Fruits (apples, crab apples, pears, quince) & Stone Fruits (cherries, plums, apricots, peaches etc.)

Major pruning can be done in late Winter/ Early Spring before the buds swell up, but after any high likelihood of frost. A second lighter pruning to control growth can be done in late summer, when the trees are past their Spring growth spurt. Dead or diseased branches should be removed as soon as they are noticed. Dispose of these by burning safely or sending to the landfill. Diseased wood should not be sent out with "green waste." It might spread the problem.

Citrus (oranges, lemons, limes,etc.)

After the late Winter harvest is a good time, but in the Bay Area many citrus fruit at odd times and even year round. The timing of pruning them has more to do with trying to not loose a crop than season. Don't prune before the danger of frost is passed or within the month before the first frost is expected. Some Bay Area locales don't experience any frost normally, but be prepared to protect your citrus trees if one is predicted. A few strings of non-L.E.D. Christmas lights and a light weight sheet will save you a lot of lost fruit and may even save a whole tree from being killed off by a particularly hard frost.

Exotics (Pomegranates, avocados etc.)

Be very cautious about pruning avocados. They get sunburned branches if exposed to too much sunlight. Keep newly planted trees pruned to manageable sizes to avoid making more severe reducing cuts at a later date. Pomegranates are often more shrub-like than tree-like. They can be pruned in either form. Prune after risk of frost is passed, but before new growth begins. More information on other exotics will be added. In the mean time check out the California Rare Fruit Growers Assn..


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