This is the time of year out here JOTOLR when we hold our collective breath awaiting the day when we can say for sure--or almost for sure--that we'll have fruit this year. We're at an elevation that allows late--as in VERY late--frosts and freezes to niggle their way into our production schedules.
We eat seasonally. Meaning: we don't consume grapes from Chile, or strawberries from California; or apples from everywhere else. We wait for our own to ripen in the fall, whereupon we gorge ourselves on the crisp, succulent fresh fruit of our own trees, and then bottle that which we're unable to consume fresh, for enjoyment over the long winter. We have around ten apple trees, each a different variety so we can expect varying ripening times; the same goes for our plums, peaches, pears; we also have one nectarine, two apricots which have never--in fifteen years--made it through the late killing frosts; plus strawberries and thornless blackberries.
But a frost--even a freeze--can come as late as the last week in May here. So we still have a few weeks to go before we can declare the fruit safe. Then, of course, too, is the possibility of hail throughout the long summer, when thunderstorms can take on a very angry and destructive face, and wreak havoc on the soft fruits--plums, peaches, and nectarine.
Of course, the shriveling blossoms on the plum tree below indicate that we at least have the start of a fruit crop, here....it indicates, too, that the weather during the oh-so-brief pollinating season, was warm enough and sustained enough to make sure the bees, the mason bees, the bumblebees...and all such likely friends of the farmer, had both the needed time and temperature to gather nectar and pollen and --not least--pollinate the blossoms. An intricate dance to be sure. There have been times when sun and warmth has been lacking, resulting in a "poor" fruit crop; one recent year, ice storms broke limbs, and killed several of our fruit trees, and left us with no fruit at all for one year. We relied on our holdover canned fruit from the previous year. That is why we usually put up more than we can consume in one winter. And, we never take our fruit for granted.
Plum Fruit in the making...
So, we wait....and we wait.....as blossoms first emerge, endure frosts and freezes, and finally (we hope) reveal the tiny orbs on the plums, the peaches, the pears, the nectarines, the apples, the strawberries -- declaring that winter has finally fled, and we have a positive fruit set. So far this year, so good. Six weeks to go before we can declare absolute success....waiting to exhale.