Pear Tree Maintenance

Say what you will about the pear tree, it’s certainly hardened to local conditions. In 2011 and 2012 we planted a whole bunch of fruit trees in what was supposed to be a veritable food plantation on Ian’s property. We went to extensive, nay, extreme measures to prepare the sites for the plantings. The trees got watered regularly with the really big irrigation network we laid down. Every one of those trees died like wimpy bitches, and they wasted no time doing it.


The single tree I planted in Spring 2011 got stuck in a hole behind what later became the woodshed. I remember to water it maybe twice a summer in dry years. I think I’ve weeded around it twice in 12 years, and every other year it gets a halfhearted pruning. In those negligent conditions it has – by desert fruit tree standards – thrived. Hell, it even fruited year before last and that makes it unique in the annals of Gulch fruit trees.

This morning I hoed the weeds away from it and laid down a mulch of rotted chicken shit and straw, and other than a few waterings that’s all the 2023 care it’s going to get and more than it gets most years. The perversity of the universe tending as it does to a maximum, the poor thing will probably die now.

Of course one precaution that absolutely must take place is the replacement of the anticattle fencing, because obviously.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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5 Responses to Pear Tree Maintenance

  1. Anonymous says:

    Great post. I love that tree! Tiny cherries here in San Jose area of california

  2. Anonymous says:

    People — come on — this pear tree is significant. Let’s comment. Los Altos Hills

  3. Johno says:

    Joel, I can’t help thinking that pear tree would have appreciated some of that cow crap as mulch, once it’s aged a little. Apart from the beef and leather products, blood ‘n bone fertiliser and their natural droppings are all cattle are good for.

  4. Joel – a little research and just looking at your own tree will tell you that pears tend to grow in a columnar form. Yours (should it survive your nurturing…) will likely continue growing taller but not much wider. I’ve seen a few videos online about how to prune a pear to develope it laterally for ease in harvest.

    By the way – as bad as your water is there – it may be a favor to not water it much. All those minerals just accumulate in the soil – your water is likely alkaline. Rainwater (and compost) tend to be more acidic which probably lessens the effect of the overmineralisation.

    That’s one area that top dressing and compost help – moisture retention.

    Between the extra moisture from the top dressing and the food it provides to little carbon munching bugs – your dirt begins to become soil. Other little bugs eat the poop of the cellulose munching bugs and burrow into the very top layer of the dirt. Next thing you know – given the food from the bug waste and decaying compost and the moist environ – bacteria and fungi find a better life around your tree. The amount of life in your dirt/soil has a lot to do with what you want to grow in it – or can grow in it.

    short version – you’re doing it right by top dressing the tree. Some people would say not to put too much right up next to the trunk – that it can allow the wrong kind of bugs easier access to the trunk and root.

    The only way fresh cow poop kills plants (in the arid SW) is by keeping sunlight off them. Pile that stuff on (no deeper than about 2-3″ at a time) – it’s definitely a factor in that soil building bit I mentioned above. It’s dry enough where Joel is that the poop isn’t going to provide too much nitrogen.

    All the above pertains to moisture starved, poor soiled regions common in the desert SW – you folks that live in jungles and rain forests or tundra have a whole ‘nother set of factors!

  5. Malatrope says:

    For what it’s worth, I’ve planted many different kinds of fruit trees around the property. Given our altitude, temperatures, wind, and generally bad soil none of them are supposed to thrive (or even grow) here. The one kind of tree that has exploded spastically in mindless growth and production is the Bartlett pear. I do nothing to it.

    Peaches are sure as hell not supposed to grow here either, but my two tree, while not growing much, are both producing fruit every year.

    You just never know.

To the stake with the heretic!