Mystery of the pear tree

robin on fork
Can you see the robin perched on the fork?
scene of the crime
Scene of the crime

About seven years ago, maybe slightly longer, I planted 3 patio pear trees (on dwarf root-stock, which means they wont ever grow taller than myself or thereabouts) alongside some cherry, apple and plum. I chose dwarf and semi dwarf root-stock for the cherry and pears so that they wouldn’t grow so tall that it would be a challenge to harvest the fruit, especially for the children in the family.  The apples I planted  as espalier (strung up to grow along wire lines to maximise fruit and minimise spread) although they broke free of their restraints a few years back.

All the fruit trees are heavy fruiters and produce enough fruit to eat, give and freeze for both our house and my sister’s house. Except the pears… I know that pears can be notoriously slow to fruit, and each year I patiently wait to see how they will do. They started fruiting maybe 2 years ago but only a few, and all a bit ‘interesting’ looking.

Fruit trees are a brilliant investment in any garden, no matter the size. The dwarf and semi-dwarf varieties (also called patio or step-over) are a good choice in small spaces, or if you would like to grow more fruit varieties of the same fruit. They are a wonderful opportunity to root children into gardening; all the kids in my life helped me to plant the fruit trees which has given them a sense of ownership and responsibility for ‘their tree’. With the exception of most plums and some apple trees it’s a good idea to plant at least two of each tree, unless there are lots of fruit trees in your neighbourhood, to ensure cross-pollination between different fruit trees.

The mystery of the pear tree has finally been solved. During this time of lockdown I have mercifully had more time to be in my own garden. This increased connection and time to simply observe has had me puzzling over the last few weeks the unusual sight of two and even 3 robins visiting the garden at the same time.  This is highly unusual as (male) robins are incredibly territorial. At first I thought it may be a direct result of less traffic on the busy stretch of road behind the garden. But as the weeks have passed, and the pear buds have gotten bigger….and then vanished…it has become clear that the robins have been snacking on the fruit buds!

Perhaps less people are feeding the birds at present than usual, perhaps the robins are especially hungry in what is still early spring, or perhaps they have been regularly snacking each year and I have simply not been there long enough to notice….Mystery solved!

I have a couple of choices; I could net the tree (but I am scared that a bird could get trapped), I could hang some shiny things in the tree (like old cds) which may scare them off, or I could learn from this year’s observations and be more prepared for next year.

Now, where’s those cds….I couldn’t find any but hopefully cut up plastic shiny bits of packaging will do just as well to protect some of the remaining buds!…


Published by theplothickens

passionate about permaculture, interested in sharing my experiences of designing my allotment using permaculture principles

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