Friday, May 21, 2010

Around the Yard -- Peaches

Stepped out with my coffee one morning to survey the yard and I saw this little guy:

He was so cute, I stalked him.

I have no idea how he got in. I just had a new gate and fence installed for the very purpose of keeping bunnies out. This little guy was not ten feet from my tomato seedlings. This did not amuse me. Taking pictures, I knew at some point he would run, and then I'd find out how he got in.

I got pretty close.

I finally dropped the camera and thought, 'Well you dumb bunny, just how close are you going to let me get?'

Not closer than that. He took off toward the gate. But I guess when you are very young and small you panic easily. He went and donked his wee head on the gate. But on the next try, to my surprise, that little guy squoze between the gate and the gatepost! A two inch gap, maybe? I dashed to the gate behind him to see where he went.

Nowhere, I guess. No bunny in sight.

That a bunny broke into my back yard reminded me that a) it's time to get the tomatoes in the ground, and b) I'd better make sure all the little green peaches are up off the ground. Rabbits will eat little green peaches, and if they know there are green ones, they will hang out looking for ripe ones (says my inner Farmer MacGregor, anyway).

When we got back from Paradise, I thinned the peaches (left). Today, I thinned them some more (right). All told I think I thinned five pounds of green peaches. It was a great fruit set this year, and I'm very excited.

I'm really bad to thin peaches. I'm too tender-hearted. All those beautiful clusters of three and four and five peaches look like a turn of the century postcard! But I must be firm. Two reasons: thinning the peaches in the long run gives you bigger peaches and helps keep the tree producing year after year without skipping.

And here's the second reason:

Do you see that, that crescent-shaped mark on the peach? That's from a plum curculio. These little bugs look for the surface where two peaches touch and enter one of the peaches at that site. It's protected there; predators can't see the mark. Thinning peaches so they're 6-8 inches apart puts a crimp in plum curculio style -- no cozy, inside surfaces.

I have a feeling that part of the reason a few peaches have been dropping is not just that the tree is unloading. I think the curculios have been busy. Well, I can get busy, too.

It's not like we're suffering here. Plenty of peaches. Still, you know, there's the oriental fruit moths. And then the mockingbirds -- first year I covered the tree with netting, but this year it's so big I'm not sure I can.

Harper Lee tells us it's a sin to kill a mockingbird, but I sure would thwack one with a peach-pit if it ever went after my peaches. It's the way they do it; they use their beaks like a knife and spoil the peach and move on to the next one.

Now if mockingbirds ate plum curculios, that would be different...

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