Woman Down!

2024 appears to be a record setting year for Nicci our Nectarine tree. We discovered her in the back corner of Lowes six years ago on sale and alone. My parents had experience growing one in the early 70's in California, when San Bernardino still got rain. (no shade intended) Georgia's climate, humidity, wildlife and pest pressures are a whole nother great big book of everything. However name one farmer/gardener you know that hasn't tried something at least once or runs from a challenge? The tree tag read, self-pollinating which means that it can produce fruit when pollinated with the help of pollinators and the wind, (Wasps, Butterflies, Bees etc) Mom and I thought this was a win because we had the perfect space for the tree inside of the garden. Why inside you might ask, well because our growing space has a 9' fence that helps to deter the deer and I use the word deter because we have seen evidence of a few jumping through the fence over our eighteen years of growing food. There is nothing worse than nurturing a tree or plant like okra or watermelon, patiently waiting for the day you can harvest its fruit and then BAM there's nothing there, the plant has disappeared or been stripped, you feel robbed and violated by the nameless neighbor from the woods. So we have learned to protect our investment and our emotional health by taking preventative measures. Fast forwarding to this week we have been keeping a close eye on Nicci Nectarines progress, by watching for pest pressure, looking for snakes on the ground and helping to support her weight by using things like saw horses and ladders. We can see that the deer have been hanging around the fence line in the wee hours because their pelleted poop is laying in the grass. Humans rely upon the changes in color (seeing the yellows and reds) and, firmness of the fruit while the deer depend on their sense of smell. As I got closer to the tree, I could see lots of bee and wasp activity happening around the ground. One of Nicci's limbs gave out and broke during yesterday's rain shower (see photo) Unfortunately most of the fruit on that limb has yet to ripen but I wasn't about to leave it there for those bugs to eat so I brought the whole limb inside the house. Did you know that Nectarines can ripen on the counter at room temperature? Of course I'll have to pick the fruit off of the limb but if this happens to your stone fruit you don't have to worry, it's not a loss, just make sure you have a dry surface area for the fruit to ripen up in about 2-3 days. I must caution you to not eat fruit that still has green on the skin! It can make you sick! We're going to have fun with this years bounty, eating the fruit fresh, cooking with them, selling them, and preserving for long term shelf life as well. We encourage all who grow to enjoy the journey, document the process and all of its nuances. Pass your knowledge along to all who want to learn. The picture is so much larger than us as individuals, why not share the entire photo album.

Margo Candelario  

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