Editor’s note: Get Growing, written by the La Plata County Extension Office’s Master Gardener Program, appears during the growing season. It features timely tips and suggestions for your garden and landscape. By Darrin Parmenter
In a year of horticultural and agricultural challenges, the one bright spot has been the fruit trees.
The common premise in La Plata County is that apple, plum and pear trees consistently produce fruit every year or every other year, and cherry, peach and apricot trees produce every three to four years. Reminder: Your microclimate in a county where home-site elevations range from about 6,000 to 10,000 feet strongly dictates your ability to have fruit to pick.
Last year was a bust, all around. Because of late, hard freezes in April and May, very little fruit was to be found. So little, in fact, that we had to cancel the annual Apple Days festival, and the Colorado State University orchard in Yellow Jacket had to cancel its annual U-Pick because there was nothing for you to pick.
This year, the slot machine came up with lucky sevens (or cherries given the situation), and there is a plethora of fruit-laden trees. Seriously, unless we are hit by hailstorms or frosts/freezes in August, we will have more fruit than we know what to do with. As of right now, cherries and apricots are going off, with peaches and plums not far behind.
Apple trees are loaded – and I mean loaded to the point where branches will be so heavy that you may need to support them with lumber so they don’t break. Come September and October, we should have so much ripe fruit that even Johnny Appleseed would be jealous.
If you are someone who has backyard fruit trees that you either can’t harvest all of or don’t want to harvest, or perhaps you are craving some of this fruit, check out Fruitglean.org. The gleaning website is part of a regional food recovery program supported by the Fort Lewis College Environmental Center, Local First, Bear Smart Durango, CSU Extension, Healthy Community Food Systems and the Garden Project of Southwest Colorado.
Essentially, Fruitglean.org connects community members with trees they would like harvested to community members who would like to harvest and eat their fruit. Interested harvesters reach out to the tree owner to talk through details of harvesting (where, when, etc.), and hopefully, more people in our community eat fresh, healthy, local produce. We also hope to reduce human-bear conflicts by reducing food attractants. And, we strengthen our sense of community. Get your glean on at www.fruitglean.org!
Darrin Parmenter is the director and horticulture agent of the La Plata County Extension Office. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 382-6464.