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Pruning, grafting and picking

August 30, 2007|LILI SINGER

The Home Orchard

Growing Your Own Deciduous Fruit and Nut Trees

Chuck A. Ingels, Pamela M. Geisel and Maxwell V. Norton

University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources, $25

Agriculture and natural resource specialists at the University of California are highly skilled at distilling science into language and graphics that can be easily digested (and afforded) by gardeners.

This book is a superior example. It was developed for serious backyard orchardists, rare-fruit growers and small-scale farmers -- patient people who know they must carefully select and plant young trees, then tend and train them for many years before finally picking that perfect peach.

The beautifully illustrated text encompasses "standard" and new practices for growing winter-deciduous fruit and nut trees such as apple, pomegranate, peach, plum and almond. You'll also find figs and persimmons, but no grapes, berries, citrus or avocado.

The teachings are applicable statewide. Southern Californians, however, will need to look elsewhere for specifics on low-chill varieties, such as Fuji or Beverly Hills apples, that produce well in mild-winter climates; names are listed, but there are no descriptions.

Opening chapters discuss California's climates (these trees need cold winter nights for good production); soils and mulches; and tree biology, specific to these crops. Chapter 3 details many varieties and rootstocks.

Subsequent sections discuss planting, irrigation, fertilization, training and pruning, budding and grafting, fruit thinning and (finally!) harvest. The last chapter presents Integrated Pest Management, in depth, with top-notch photography and helpful charts. This fine reference closes with crop-by-crop calendars and a fabulous glossary.

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LILI SINGER

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