When fall comes and my arms are not long enough to reach all the peaches, apples and pears on our trees, I turn to some homemade gadget or other to harvest that fruit.
A ladder? No! Ladders are great on flat, level surfaces, but nowhere on our mountain-side property is there a flat surface: Everything is a slope of some kind, and most of our fruit trees are on a steep slope.
In the past I’ve used a mini-rake with a couple of pegs in a cross-bar on the end of a stick to pull fruit down. Unless someone else was there with a catcher’s mitt, the fruit hit the ground, which bruises it. Often it rolled down the hill necessitating pursuit. I’ve fashioned a “claw” by mutilating a wire coat hanger into two fingers above and a “thumb” below. If the thumb is more of a ring, the piece of fruit could sometimes be lowered down from the tree for retrieval. Sometimes. Other times it would fall off, hit the ground and skitter away.
This year I saw an idea on the Internet – the photograph I saw was a Facebook repost from Pinterest. It’s hard saying where it originated. It uses a plastic beverage bottle on a stick as a picker-catcher. I decided to try that this year.
You will want a plastic beverage bottle – the kind with “feet” on the bottom. These add rigidity to the picker part and help for a claw that captured the top of the fruit. The picture I saw used a 2-liter soda bottle. I don’t have a 2-liter bottle today so I used a 1-liter vinegar bottle that I do have.
Use a marker to lay-out your cut-out. You want to cut away one “toe” and a portion of the bottle side large enough to slip the device over the fruit you’re harvesting. The size of the fruit you’re going after will determine the size of bottle and the opening you need. I’m going after fist-sized apples, peaches and pears; if you’re harvesting grapefruit, you’ll need a bigger bottle!
It’s important to make the cut at the bottom of the bottle between the toes so you leave as much rigidity there as possible: Some of your adversaries will not come along willingly.