Our temperate climate and winter chill mean our pip and stone fruit trees do just fine. Peach, plum, nectarine, apple and pear trees can be relied on to produce ample fruit late summer through autumn.
But there are a couple of outliers – apricots and greengages being the bugbears in question. A couple of reasons why we haven’t given up on them. First, they just happen to be our favourite stone fruits. Second, the few and far between occasions when we do get a modest harvest of luscious drool-mouth fruit has bequeathed on them something of the allure of forbidden fruit.
The god of homesteading has forbidden us from buying them in, despite (more years than we care to remember), our crop failures. “Show some moral fibre,” the god says, pointing to an abundance of our other stone fruit, or, in his own words: “Your cup runneth over.” But because we had initial success with greengage and apricot trees, we continue to succumb to that temptation.
One of the first things we did to stamp our mark on the land was to plant an orchard. Apples – Sturmer, of course, Cox’s Orange Pippin, Peasgood Nonsuch, Freyburg, and Winter Nell pear, Shiro plum. The apricot was called Roxborough Red, and because the greengage isn’t self-fertile, we also planted one of its pollinators, a Coe’s Golden Drop plum.
There were three or four years early on when we had bumper crops of greengage. And once established, we started to get quite a number of apricots some summers; the firm but yielding flesh and intense flavour bursts transported you to paradise – definitely forbidden fruit!
All of that came to a brutal end: disease and, as a consequence, limbs needing amputation; forked trunks torn asunder by howling gales; mega dieback; death. Hellish mortal and near mortal blows par for the course when you eat forbidden fruit. And as far as apricot and greengage are concerned, the punishment continues to this day.
The Roxborough Red totally gone many years ago, and the original greengage a sad parody of its early self and glory days. I have to say there’s been little ecstasy (no, not the drug), in the ongoing pursuit of such pleasures as are to be had from the fruit of the greengage and apricot, but much agony.
Sure we’ll be ecstatic if our latest purchases, “in the fullness of time” (to quote the god of homesteading), quench our desire for forbidden fruit. To that end, we forked out $103.00 last month on yet another greengage, and an apricot variety we’d never heard of – the Tomcot. Add that sum to the devilishly large amount we’ve spent over the years on nursery grown replacement trees.
The knowledgeable guy at the garden nursery made reassuring noises about this particular apricot variety being ideally suited to our climate. “Bred in America,” he said. What could be more reassuring than that?
The Tomcot apricot is one variety that is becoming more popular among home gardeners, especially in cooler climates. This tree is all about dependability. If you provide basic care, you can rely on getting a significant crop of fruit every summer. (Minnetonka Orchards – Twin Cities Apple Orchard MN)
Our care will be anything but basic this time round – only the best will be good enough. With so much riding on the desire to pluck forbidden fruit, what could possibly go wrong?
That’s all on modern-day homesteading at Little Owl Gully till next Monday. Thanks for your company. Bye for now.