Milton Ammel, a reader of Horticulture's weekly e-newsletter, shared this tip:
"We have a lot of fruit trees—pears, peaches, apples, plums, cherry, etc. Every year, there is fruit at the top of the tree that I can't get to, and sometimes a considerable amount goes to waste. So here's a handy tip to get at that fruit:
"If you have an air mattress, inflate it and put it under the tree. Then, with a hoe or some other implement you can use to hook branches with, shake the branches. If the fruit is ripe, it will fall off, right onto the air mattress, without damage. Every little while, simply clear off the mattress, putting the fruit into a bucket. Once you're done with one side of the tree, move the air mattress to the other side and repeat.
"A regular mattress, sized for a single bed, will also work, although it's more bulky to move."