One of my favorite things about living in Browns Valley below the snowline is growing a variety of organic food.

It’s like an adventure, what can we grow now? We have planted over 15 fruit trees and many berries since moving here in 2016, including Pomegranate, Fig, Nectarine, apple, Variegated Pink Meyer Lemon, and Lime. Since it can take a few years to get a large fruit production I try to plant something new each year. This year I’m planting pineapple guava, hardy kiwi vines, and avocado.January is the perfect time to purchase bare-root fruit trees. The local nurseries are receiving shipments and with all the sunny weather we are having it’s great to get outdoors and plan your crops for the coming years. There are a number of great local nurseries that offer a variety of fruit-bearing trees or berries. Some of my favorites are, Prospector’s Nursery located in Nevada City, Weiss Brothers Nursery located in Grass Valley, Peaceful Valley Farm Supply located in Grass Valley, Eisley Nursery located in Auburn and  Bald Mountain Nursery located in Browns Valley.

There is a large orange tree in my yard that was here when we moved in. Much to our family’s delight, we get a great amount of juicy, tasty oranges and every year we make candied orange peels, yum.

Each type of tree has an ideal time to prune. Pruning benefits the size and quantity of fruit production and pruning for shape can allow for an easier harvest. Mid-Winter is ideal for citrus, once the citrus trees have reached hibernation, usually in January. I started practicing my pruning technique with the orange tree in my yard. Every year I wait not so patiently for the right time to trim back the branches. It’s important to wait for a period of time where there will be no rain. I want the fresh cuts to have a chance to seal. I start with trimming any crossing branches. Anything that grows in is cut out. The goal I have for all of my fruit bearing trees is to keep them short to enable easy fruit harvest. A general rule for pruning is, don’t cut more than 1/3 of a tree per season. The first season I cut all crossing branches and started to trim back upper branches. The following season I did maintenance cuts, eliminating any new branches I didn’t want and cut more of the upper branches to ensure I would be able to reach all of the fruit. I’m currently planning my next plan of attack. As soon as I see the blossoms appear signaling hibernation I’m going in.