The apricots are a fine addition to a home growing repertoire. Apricot trees can be grown as fans, bushes or pyramid-shaped examples, or left to grow to a natural shape. Dwarf varieties are available which can be grown in containers, small space in the landscape, or trained along walls so that apricot trees can be suitable for even the very smallest of gardens.
Choosing an Apricot Tree
If you choose a self-fertile, you will only need to buy one apricot tree, which can crop without a partner tree. It is important to choose an apricot tree suited to the exact conditions where you live. The crucial factor is when the tree will blossom. Apricots tend to bloom early, so can be prone to frost damage if there is a danger of a late frost in your area. Bryan, Hungarian and Moorpark Apricots could all be good options for zone 8 in Texas.
Planting an Apricot Tree
Apricot trees will grow best in sunny, wind and frost sheltered, locations. They like a deep, moisture retentive, well drained and ideally slightly alkaline soil and will struggle in shallow soils which have low fertility. Be sure to space your Apricot trees according to the space requirements of the variety you have chosen. Generally, I like to add two feet to the spacing to provide clearance for picking and maintenance. Mulch the trees with rich compost or well-rotted manure in March and early April. Mulch will help to fertilize and keep down competitive weeds.
Caring For an Apricot Tree
Newly-planted Apricot trees will need deep watering during their first spring and summer so they can establish themselves. For best fruit production deep water when the fruits begin to set and grow. Mature trees may also need to be watered if there are drought conditions.
If your tree is cropping heavily, then you should thin apricots to around 8-10 cm intervals when they are roughly the size of hazelnuts. You may also wish to prune for shape and size at the same time.
Apricots require insects for pollination. If there are not enough insects around yet when the tree breaks into bloom, then you may need to pollinate by hand to achieve the best possible yield. Better still is to encourage pollinators into your garden by companion planting apricot trees with a beneficial guild of plants that can help gather nutrients and which will attract bees and other pollinators to your yard.
Apricots will be ready to harvest in late June through August. The Apricots are ready to pick when the fruits have a golden-yellow color, are soft, and detach easily from the tree. Take care when harvesting to avoid bruising the delicate fruits and the immediate consumption or preservation of the fruit is strongly recommended. Apricots can be used in preserves, a whole range of delicious desserts, and dehydrated as a healthy treat.
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