TORONTO'S FRUIT TREES, A BOUNTY AT YOUR DOORSTEP - Bosley Real Estate Ltd. Brokerage - Homes and houses for sale in Toronto including Cabbagetown, The Annex, Danforth Village, Lawrence Park and Riverdale

TORONTO'S FRUIT TREES, A BOUNTY AT YOUR DOORSTEP

  • Bosley Real Estate
  • 21 August 2015

As densely urban as Toronto is, it’s also a functional fruit orchard, with tress across the city sprouting sweet and sour cherries, apples and apricots, pears, grapes and more from June through September. If you’re a home owner with one (or more) of these prosperous trees on your property, it can be both a blessing and a curse — a bounty of fresh fruit on your doorstep, and a beacon for pests.

Maximizing yield depends on the type of fruit your tree is growing. All trees should be planted in nutrient-rich soil and in a spot that gets generous sunlight, and generally younger trees produce more fruit than older ones. For pruning and cross-pollination instructions (apple trees, for instance, grow better in pairs than alone), consult your local nursery for guidance.

To look and produce their best, fruit trees require vigilance. An open canopy that allows for air movement reduces dampness and an environment prime for disease. If leaves, fruit and prunings do become infested and infected, they should not only be removed from the tree, but from the garden entirely as they can continue to attract pests even when off the tree. Ontario’s Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Rural Affairs suggests the following for pest management: “Dormant oil, applied before buds break, will control scale, mites, and pear psylla. Insecticidal soaps are active against many soft-bodied insect pests. Copper- and sulphur-containing products will control fungal and bacterial diseases.”

As for raccoons, the City recommends “sprinkling diluted tabasco sauce over fruits and vegetables” (and reminds residents to wash before eating!). This and hot pepper sauce can also work for hungry squirrels. Some even wrap parts of the tree trunks in sheet metal so that these pests can’t get a foothold to climb up from the ground into the branches. To deter birds from cherry trees, some drape the trees in nets, but beware that birds can get trapped underneath, so nets should be tied by all four corners to the trunk to avoid birds getting in.

When it comes time to harvest, picking time depends on the fruit. Most pears should be picked when firm but still somewhat green. Summer apples, peaches and plums can be left on the tree until almost ready to eat, and cherries shouldn’t be picked until they’re prime for eating.

Many trees produce far more fruit than a household can eat, which means one can freeze or can their goods — or give them away. Not Far From the Tree is a fantastic organization that organizes volunteers to pick fruit trees across the city. After registering your tree with them, volunteers will come to your residence and pick clean your tree, donating one-third of the literal fruits of their labours to local food banks, shelters and community meal programs. The remaining fruit is split between the homeowner and the hard-working volunteers. NFFTT is a small organization, currently only able to cover 14 of the city’s wards (click here to see if your tree falls in its picking zone). If it doesn’t, they still ask that you register your tree anyway, so that they know which areas of the city to tackle next.