By Roger Erpelding
It was a good omen, followed by bad events. In early April we had a warm spell, and both apricots bloomed, for the first time in years. This was followed by two weeks of cold and rainy weather. On May 14 we hosted a group of friends over for a Saturday evening which included an outdoor tour, since the weather was nice. “I know you don’t grow olives, so what are those things growing in your garden trees?” Jim asked. That was the first notion I had that we could have an apricot crop.
I began to monitor the trees weekly for apricot progress. Each week the silky smooth fruits seemed to grow a bit larger. I couldn’t pass up an update whenever I was near them to weed, pick spinach, stake the tomatoes, or whatever the current garden task would be.
Thursday, June 9, brought two hailstorms. The following weekend when I was in the garden I found hundreds of apricots on the ground, dented, ruined, and partially attacked by birds and mammals. Good-bye apricots–maybe next year.
It was on June 20 when Hawkeye Bob stopped to read, and we walked out into the garden to look at the rain gauge. Bob noticed the apricots on the west tree, but not on the east. Hey, we might get a crop after all. And then Beth noticed the fruit turning orange on the 25th. But the evening of the 26th brought another wind storm, and additional fallen fruit.
Over the last weekend, Beth and I realized that although the fruit was showing color, it was not ripe enough to pick. It was too hard, and clung to the branches. But, as the work week began, the fruit began to fall. Tuesday night I picked up lots of fruit in the garden. Some were keepers, some were rejects. After picking up and sorting the fruit, I went out with several bags of leaves picked up from last fall and thoroughly covered the garden under the apricot tree. By Thursday night, we picked up about 25 keepers and only about 6 rejects.
The Fourth of July weekend will find me picking up apricots, and placing a tall ladder near the tree to pick the rest. Beth tells me that there are dozens of fruit remaining to be picked, or picked up. Other duties will include picking the lettuce and spinach one more time, then totally weeding that area to prepare a bed to plant the second crop of green beans. If it doesn’t rain, we will be watering as well.