While scouting a tree for tomorrow’s pick, I strolled through the neighbourhood to see what other fruit trees I could find. The evening had big plans for me.
Some of the fruit tree owners we work with ask us to pick their fruit because they’re not sure how to go about doing it. But then there are those who know exactly what to do, who toil away in their urban orchards to create the most dazzling arrays.
First I met Natale, whose small slice of a front yard contains six or seven incredible fruit trees, each with three or four different plum varieties. Four of the trees were once apricot trees, onto which he has grafted his favourite plum varieties. He was generous with his tour, showing me a dozen new grafts that he made this spring, explaining how the ripening times rotate from branch to branch, inviting me to try a green one and a yellow one, giving me a couple for the quick walk home. I didn’t ask if we could pick his fruit – he obviously knows exactly what to do with it. And his roses – wow!
With a few extra plums in hand, I walked happily off. Then just around the corner I met Francesco. He was tending his plums, checking on the year’s grafts and the week’s ripening. An expert in fruit trees since his childhood spent on a farm in Italy, he claims to have grafted onto trees all over the neighbourhood (perhaps he’s a guerrilla gardener?). Again I was offered a generous handful: red plums, golden plums, and even a fresh fig! The tour continued with new fig growths, zucchinis climbing among plum tree branches, cherry branches grafted onto plum trees, and even some containers from which he grows lemons and limes. He packed me up a bag of golden plums and sent me off full of awe, into the good night of plenty.