Early peach blossoming - and needing shortening of some branches to provide strength to hold maturing fruit without bending down. [The white-painted trunk is to prevent sunburn during the winter. Use 50% light-colored INDOOR latex paint, which seems counter-intuitive since this is outdoors, but outdoor oil-based paint will smother the tree pores!]
Mulberry leafed out...
...and setting blossoms. Fruit will be about 1" in size.
Cooke's Pakistan Mulberry blossoms will be about 3" in size.
Don’t remove fruit tree blossoms, thinking that you’ll save yourself effort later when the fruit sets because you won’t have so many to remove.
We want the pollinators to land on as many blossoms as possible, giving them both their food source and hopefully enabling fruit to set.
Remember that wind is also a mode of pollination – which is why it matters that you can depend on different varieties in your neighborhood to help pollinate your varieties.
Many of those tiny fruits that do set will fall off on their own, or when a passing animal (you…) brushes up against them and knock them off, or who knows what, before they reach the dime-size stage when you DO need to be cognizant of how many and where they’re set on the branches.
THEN you can go ahead and remove the excess according to the expected mature size and placement on the branch.
Removing blossoms now will considerably reduce the possibility of there being enough blossoms that are pollinated and remain on the tree long enough to mature until we harvest them.
Waiting until the tiny fruits are set guarantees you’ll have the choice of which to remove later.
Do trim back the individual branches that are more than about 12” long. Fruit that sets further out on long branches will literally drag the branches down as the fruit gradually matures and gains weight. This will result in branches that either break from the increasing weight or remain “stuck” in that downward position after the mature fruit is harvested.
Trimming back the too-long branches now will provide stability for the tree as well as the fruit that does set.
Later, when fruits are dime-size, you can easily thin the individual ones that are so close that they might touch – and rot – as they mature. But you’ll have the choice!
Yummy mulberries are great choices for the home garden because they set new fruit repeatedly and are so delicate they aren’t frequently available at even farmers markets.
Last year, I pruned back branches following my first harvest, only to find that another set of blossoms appeared just a couple of weeks later.
In order to keep the vigorous branches trimmed short enough to keep new growth within bounds of my reach for future harvests, I kept pruning after every mini-harvest, and kept getting more blossoms and fruit through the fall. What a great and pleasant surprise!
Of course, not many of the delectable fruits made it from the garden to the dinner table…or rather, I gave all those to my husband since I’d already eaten my share in the garden as I’d harvested them!