An Impromptu Neighbourhood Fruit Tour

Posted August 13, 2008 by: Laura Reinsborough

An Impromptu Neighbourhood Fruit Tour

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.

5 thoughts on “An Impromptu Neighbourhood Fruit Tour

  1. They both remind me of my Nonno Carmine. He had his own greenhouse in his backyard where his prized fig tree used to be. There were trees galore – It’s all about community and reaching out to a past that is soon to be gone if we don’t pass down the information.

    Another reason why Not Far from the Tree is Golden in so many ways!

  2. I live in the St. Clair West area & I’d love to volunteer. I have fruit picking experience & am happy to climb a ladder.

  3. The whole grafting process is so intriguing. My Dad just bought an apple tree that bears 5 different types of apples.

    For a small city garden, it’s the perfect solution if you want a variety of fruit.

  4. Natalie is my former neighbour! I lived beside him for two years and he was such a big help to my garden! When I moved into the house on the corner I figured I had 1100 sq ft of grapes in the back, a plum tree that was dying and two pear trees – planted and grafted by Natalie! I moved to Ottawa 15 months ago and when I was planting my tomatoes this year I thought of him and all the tricks he taught me! We had an amazing garden going on my property with cucumbers, lots of tomatoes, flowers, and lots of grapes. I miss him dearly and wish he came with me to Ottawa!
    If you are speaking with Natalie, please tell him Debra says hello!

  5. I love that you profiled the people behind the trees. That both Natale and Francesco invited you in for a tour and take home treats is so endearing. Thanks for the post.

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