by Ken Lain, the mountain gardener
Doom & Gloom a misperception in the Garden
After watching your fruit trees bloom spectacularly in the spring, then witnessing tiny fruits forming, it is disheartening to see them fall from the tree in June. Do not panic at this natural occurrence; it even has a name . . . June Drop.
June Drop is how fruit trees shed some of their immature fruits. To offset sudden loses from weather or other cultural factors, fruit trees often set more flowers than they need for a full crop. Only one bloom in 20 is needed for a good crop on a full-blossoming fruit tree.
Fruit trees set fruit so they can produce seed. Too large a crop will strain the tree’s resources and result in smaller fruits of poor quality. Once they sense weather and growing conditions are stable, trees protect themselves and their seeds by thinning their crops. The immature fruits are all competing for the same food and water and to have the strongest survive, fruits that contain few seeds are the first to drop.
Fruit trees may actually start this thinning process earlier in the season by shedding some flowers that weren’t pollinated. You might not notice this, because you expect the flowers to drop. But when you see actual fruits starting to fall, it can be alarming.
Preventing June Drop is not a good thing. To encourage this normal process, make sure that your fruit trees get plenty of water, but not so much they are sitting in soggy soil. Trees and their fruits will grow best if the immature fruit is thinned slightly. As some fruits don’t naturally thin themselves enough, they need some help from their gardeners. Stone fruits, that don’t have a lot of seeds, like peaches, plums, and nectarines, usually need hand thinning. Oddly, figs and persimmons require hand thinning, but cherry trees seem to be able to hang onto all their fruit without any problems.
Bottom line is that June Drop is not just normal, it’s actually good for the trees and helpful to the gardener, too. You will not only get larger fruits, but the branches of your fruit trees won’t be so heavy that they will need to be propped up to prevent them from breaking.
For more information read my new book on ‘The Complete Guide to Growing Fruit Trees‘, free to readers of this newsletter.
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Gardening Classes resume on Saturdays. The first of our free classes for local gardeners starts on Saturday, June 13 @ 9:30 in the morning. I will be teaching this week’s class on ‘Everything you Wanted to Know about Tomato Care’. The first tomatoes are starting to come out of the garden, so we will “go deep” on all things tomato. Students will learn about which bugs to watch for, disease, companion plants, and a bunch of square foot garden advice that will increase tomato harvest this year.
( YouTube Video on what a class is really like. )
June 20 – ‘Perennial Flowers, Blooms that Impress’. June is the ideal month to plant perennials in the yard. Students learn how to design for a continual 4-season bloom in the garden. Notable mentions will be the native and heat-loving flowers that bloom without any care at all.
June 27 – ‘Landscape Designs that Thrill, Fill & Make you Money’. Back by popular demand, local landscape designer, Rich Olson, will take students on a journey to bring personality to their landscapes. As the monsoons approach this is an ideal season to change the look-and-feel of your yard. Students learn tree placement, privacy techniques, ground covers, erosion control, inspirational bloomers, and more. One hour just isn’t enough time, but you have to start somewhere!
All the Free Classes – Classes have been scheduled through August. Take a look at the entire list posted on our website at WattersGardenCenter.com. The classes are free, they’re fun, and specially designed to help local gardeners. Plus, the people that hangout at Watters gardening classes are really cool! 🙂
Until next week, I’ll see you at the garden center.