Flowers and fruits
Spring opens with a riot of flowers and colors; the plants in winter rest begin to vegetate again and the most striking blooms return to delight us in the garden. In the weeks between the end of winter and the beginning of spring, among the most showy and beautiful plants, in full bloom, there are certainly fruit plants, made particularly showy also by the fact that in general the flowers begin to bloom on completely bare plants, on the dark wood devoid of leaves.
Not all fruit trees begin to bloom now, but most of the most widespread plants, such as almond, cherry, plum, pear, apple, apricot, peach, begin to swell their buds towards the end of winter, so as to become quickly pollinate, and begin to ripen fruit already in the coming weeks.
The advantages of fruit plants are manifold, in addition to the undeniable beauty of their flowering; it is generally easy to grow plants, which in most cases do not reach enormous dimensions, and which in the family orchard do not even need excessive care or precautions, well resistant to cold and drought.
How they are cultivated
As we said before, fruit plants are not difficult to cultivate; It is sufficient to place them in a sunny corner of the garden, in a good rich and well-drained soil, worked thoroughly before planting. Planting can usually take place in autumn or late winter-early spring, but more often in nurseries we find potted plants, which can be planted almost at any time of the year. Clear that the plant planted in autumn will probably bear some fruit the following year, while those planted at other times of the year will probably not give us any fruit. In any case, fruit plants for sale in nurseries in general are not large, given the difficulty of moving large root systems, and therefore the fructification in the first years of life of the plant is usually modest. Depending on the species and variety of fruit plant that we want to plant it will take more or less 2-3 years before the plant produces a sufficient number of fruits for an acceptable harvest; some plants become productive much faster than others.
Plants that have been planted for a long time are well resistant to cold and summer drought; the young plants that have recently settled down, however, will need some extra care, especially with regard to watering: if the soil remains dry for long periods of time, especially during flowering and fruiting, we will often find ourselves completely without fruit; therefore, let's watch the plants in the orchard in case of low rainfall.
At the end of winter we also supply granular slow release fertilizer, or manure, to be buried at the foot of the stem.
The young plants then surely need a good pruning in the first years, to set the future tree; the formation pruning of the fruit trees is carried out following two main purposes: the formation of a plant where all the branches are easy to reach, in order to easily harvest the fruit tomorrow; the formation of a hair not too dense, so that all the branches are reached by sunlight and therefore produce flowers and sweet and juicy fruits.
What fruits to choose
Most of the fruit plants that bloom in early spring, ie almond, pear, apple, cherry, apricot, peach, all belong to the same family, the Rosaceae; for this reason they are trees that have more or less the same needs, even if the cultivation by man over millennia has produced dozens of species and varieties, so much so that it is very complicated to decide which are the best fruit trees to plant in our garden.
Furthermore, it is often difficult for those who are not familiar to distinguish one variety from another, even when the plant already produces fruit; if it can be quite simple to distinguish between two varieties of pears, which often have a very different shape, color, consistency, it is much more difficult to distinguish two varieties of peaches or apricots, which at the sight may seem identical.
There are in fact hundreds of varieties of prunus, malus and pyrus, each of which has interesting characteristics, which concern the color of the fruits, the aroma and texture of the fruit, the age of maturation, resistance to particular diseases.
At the time of choice it therefore becomes difficult to decide which plants to plant; surely the first thing we will have to choose is the final size of the plant: a cherry tree can become a medium-sized tree, with a wide crown; a pear or plum tree often remains very small, since it can also be found in a small garden.
When we then go to choose the variety of fruit trees to be planted we try to remember that it is good to grow plants that are already suitable for living in the area in which we live; generally the careful nurseryman tends to keep only the varieties suitable for the area in which the nursery is located. In addition to this in many nurseries are starting to cultivate ancient varieties of fruit trees, those that they had in the garden in our grandparents or great-grandparents; these varieties of fruit plants often provide greater resistance to diseases and insects, where modern varieties tend to require a greater number of pesticide treatments.
However, over the years it will be necessary to remember to prune fruit plants in late winter, so as to open the foliage in the sunlight, and removing the branches ruined by the weather, snow and wind; only the cherry trees tend to suffer much from pruning, and therefore are hardly pruned.
In any case, even if we were to never prune our little plum tree in the garden, we won't have to worry about it much, it will continue to produce plums, even if a good pruning often guarantees a better fruiting.
Towards the end of winter, before the buds swell, it is often also useful to practice a pesticide treatment on our fruit plants, typically using Bordeaux mixture or with copper-based compounds; this type of pesticide has a wide spectrum of action, and should be used only when the plants are dormant. Each type of treatment should be suspended during the flowering period, so as not to disturb bees and other useful insects. Another treatment is generally done when the fruits are already clearly visible and the plant has long since stopped flowering.
Fruit plants without treatment of any kind continue to bear fruit, only that often the fruits are attacked by animal or fungal parasites, which cause the production of ruined fruits, with the peel affected, with the presence of insects near the stone; this type of inconvenience can worry those who have to sell fruit and vegetables, but may not in any way alarm those who simply want to eat some apricot of the tree in the garden.
Prunus da fiore
Among all the varieties of prunus produced to have sweet and juicy fruits, over the years also dozens of varieties have been produced that produce showy and delicate flowers, these are the flower prunus; the ease of cultivation and resistance to cold and drought has made them excellent trees to be used in gardens, parks and even in the city gardens, where care is practically nil.
The flowering of the flowering prunus is very showy and particular, in the shades of pink and white, unfortunately this flowering is generally quite short.
Often prunus da fiore also produce small edible fruits, although sometimes their taste is not the best, especially when compared to that of the cousins prunus da frutta.
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