Monday, June 23, 2008

A tale of 12 apricots

My mother came of age in southern California. Little wonder, then, that fruit was a major part of my diet growing up. I recall that when we traveled from Phoenix to Riverside to visit grandparents, come Beaumont and Banning, we would stop at a roadside stand to buy a lug or two of fresh-picked fruit. In more recent times, I've had to depend upon the supermarkets. Peaches and nectarines they serve up reasonably well (though I truly prefer scrawny Georgia or Michigan peaches to the over-bred California product.) However, I don't believe I have ever purchased a supermarket apricot (one of my absolute favorites) that had any flavor to speak of. Frustrating. Disappointing. But: good news ahead.

Examine this picture carefully. You will find six fruit hanging from the branches. Apricots. Which is most remarkable. When we moved into this house over 20 years ago, I planted the seeds from every apricot that I ate; today, there are five or six trees that range in size from a 2-foot runtlet to a tall 20-foot specimen. All are approximately the same age. Over the years, I have enjoyed all of three (3) apricots. Oh, yes, the trees bloom profusely in spring and the leaves provide a lovely golden glow in the autumn. But a crop? Almost always, zilch. Nada. While Prescott's climate is great for stone fruit, we are prone to late frosts. Or, as happened this year, we suffered high winds that battered the trees shortly after they flowered.

And yet there I am unexpectedly with a total of 12 fruit on one of the smaller of my trees. Perhaps because this particular tree is sheltered behind a much larger fellow; perhaps because it may have received more watering than usual. Whatever. Now to make sure that I can enjoy my apricots. And so I spent less than a dollar over at the WalMart to buy netting to protect my potential harvest from the birds.

Today I wrapped the individual fruit in little bundles of netting. BTW, nobody ever told me that apricot trees had thorns -- big, nasty thorns (above). To give you an idea of the small size of the bearing tree, that stick to the right is its trunk.

From a distance, the netting looks like the work of tent caterpillars. I don't care; I can hardly wait for my 12 apricots to ripen.


Anonymous said...

That is one enjoyable story. Neat to use the nets around the apricots. I've seent fruit in bottles that must have been grown in them.

TomboCheck said...

Congratulations! I agree that the store-bought apricots are flavorless, so I envy you the fact that you will get some tasty ones come harvest time. :)

Granny J said...

steve -- isn't it a wonderful gift, to unexpectedly find 12 nearly ripe apricots in one's own yard. I would never have suspected that particular tree.

tombo -- I don't know why the markets bother to stock apricots. No matter how pricey, the "flavor" (or lack thereof) is the same. Each year I buy one or two to see if things have changed. Answer: not so far.

Anonymous said...

Groan! Your story reminded me of how much I miss the fruits of the Pacific Northwest.

Thanks for your rain dance down there. The monsoons are blasting me every day in Colorado.

Granny J said...

boonie -- I'm sure that if you live in the Pacific NW, you can get much better fruit than the gussied up stuff they ship. I miss the scrawny little Jonathon apples from NY state and other eastern locales. They've apparently imported some stock into the NW & managed to puff up Jonathans into the same old same old beautiful looking, overly sweet, mealy Washington apples. Fie on them!

Jean said...

Ah apricots. My favorite fluit, as we call them, after Washington Bings. I've planted Apricot trees in my backyard here and each Spring enjoy their magnicent blooming. But in some 25 years I think I've had three ripe apricots. I've tried just about everything including the net trick and lost out to squirrels. But there's always Michgan Apricots in our Farmers' Market here in Evanston. And come Fall the great Jonathons and Yellow Delicious. No red Delicious for me.


Granny J said...

jean -- apparently there was something about the weather pattern this winter, cuz a friend who neglects her remaining orchard told me just today that she has a apricot tree full of fruit, which she promises to share (she'd better!!!) For me it's a toss up between apricots and raspberries, tho I'll admit that bings are right up there. At least they ship well. We seldom see much fruit at our local farmers' market, unfortunately.

meggie said...

Oh the apricots of the South Island of New Zealand have to be eaten to be believed! They truly are heavenly. I always understood Apricots like a frost, so perhaps that is why they have fruited.
Enjoy them!!

Anonymous said...

You hit my button...

Tree ripened peaches and apricots and vine ripened tomatoes.... Impossible to find. Even at most farmers markets. It's all about shelf life. Pick them green and sell them to the public who have no idea what plant ripened product tastes like.

Done venting!

Granny J said...

meggie -- a deep frost here usually puts an end to any but the really late fruit; the apples and pears survive. But this year, we had no late deep frost, just a very cool late spring.

wandrin -- I can only shout "hallelujah!!!" to your vent. It's mine as well.

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