Sunday, November 6, 2016
Move Along Tree Rats, There's Nothing to Eat Here!
We took this peach tree down a few weeks ago. It was a hard decision because that tree has seen the full transition of my yard to a farm. It's a symbol of my origins as a gardener, really one of the first things I planted when we moved here. I remember thinking how cool it was that we would be growing and enjoying our own peaches. I mean, after all, we live in Georgia, the Peach State, and I grew up stopping at roadside peach stands each summer to buy the juicy sweet fruit. I even worked at a peach farm one summer in high school. For years this tree produced magnificently, but the only creatures enjoying the bounty were the tree rats, a.k.a. squirrels. They even have their own squirrel highway, down the limb of a huge oak tree, across the branches of the loropetalum, and straight into the peach tree. Well, they are in for a rude awakening come next summer. I can hardly wait to see their looks of disappointment. Of all the years we had the tree, we only got one decent harvest, which was during the Year of the Squirrel Slayer. You can read about him here.
Then, the next year, the peach borers moved in. If the peaches managed to make it to a ripe stage before the squirrels got them, the peach borers were ready and waiting for their chance. If you don't know it already, it's REALLY hard to grow peaches organically. I live just across the state line from South Carolina, which is the 2nd largest producer of peaches after California. One would think if there were organic peaches to be found, they would be found 30 minutes or so from my house. But, I only know of one organic peach farm in these parts.
I finally thought to myself, "Why am I sacrificing prime real estate in my yard to a fruit tree that is giving me no return?" With limited space, I am constantly accessing what works for me and what doesn't, and the peach tree just wasn't working for me anymore. So what did I replace it with? I replaced it with a fruit that the squirrels don't bother, figs! Brown Turkey fig trees are probably the most prevalent variety found in older southern yards. My neighbor has probably a 40 year old tree hanging over the fence of his yard, the main trunk of it being in his neighbor's yard. And while I have access to that part of the tree for picking each year, it's not the same as having my own full size fig tree. Because if you ask me, figs are the best fruit on the planet, and each year I gorge myself on them. And, when I'm done gorging, I can spiced figs and fig jam. I make fig pizzas and upside down fig cakes. Fig ice cream is on my list as well. Figs, figs, figs, I love you figs. So, here is my little fig tree.
Grow little one. I expect great things from you!