The Fruits of my Obsession

Okay, I’m exaggerating a little, but I do tend to fuss and fret over the fruit growing in our garden. Since the rats, birds, ants, snails and squirrels take their share, I’ve realized that volume is key. If your plants produce, say, five strawberries, chances are slim that you’ll be able to harvest any for yourself. On the other hand, dozens of strawberries, oranges, raspberries or plums make for a fruitful harvest. Hence, my fruitful obsession.

This is year five in the garden for our 4-in-1 fruit cocktail tree. All the pruning I did years two through four has paid off. We have a bumper crop this year from two of the four grafts.






Lone Peach

dead nectarine graft

Four grafts (the small ‘twig’ should be a nectarine)

One of the grafts died early on, but I recently learned from my friend Doug that we can re-graft! That was a bit of good news. The apricots and plums look great. The peach graft suffered leaf curl this year. So far only one, rock-hard peach.

We’ll still have plenty of fruit to eat and share, so that is pretty exciting.

Our 25-year-old orange tree is covered in fruit year round. The oranges are no longer sweet enough to eat alone, but my boys love making fresh-squeezed orange juice. We’re also doing our part to keep the neighborhood rats from getting scurvy. They have their own little health clinic in the backyard.

orange tree

Orange tree

Tree Rat

Tree Rat

After several dismal years with the blueberry plant, I’m seeing signs of honest to goodness fruit this year. In addition to being tasty, blueberries are loaded with high antioxidants.

blueberry plant

Blueberries beginning to form

A few strawberry plants jumped from the box and continue to happily grow in the nearby gravel. Thanks to composting, they’re surrounded by volunteer potato plants. It looks like a party out there with the gorgeous greens, reds and lavender.

strawberries and potatoes

Strawberries and potatoes

The early heat sent our raspberries into overdrive. They’re pumping out flowers and fruit, in addition to providing nectar for the hummingbirds. I’ve seen the little hummers sipping nectar twice from the white flowers, but didn’t have my camera in tow. I’m happy to see them enjoying the flowers; we’re happily enjoying the fruits of my obsession.

My oldest son turns 17 today. Happy Birthday, C!

fairy garden birthday

A wee birthday celebration in the fairy garden

Raspberry Teasers

Two summers ago the raspberry vines produced mouth-watering fruit.  Many a summer’s day, we would head to the garden after dinner and eat them right off the vine.  They were melt-in-your mouth delicious.

Last year I transplanted the vines to make room for an impromptu pumpkin patch.  They pumpkins self-seeded in  the compost bin and needed a place to grow. The raspberry canes grew into vines, but not a single berry.  Not one! We missed them terribly.

For years I bought beautiful red berries at the market, only to be disappointed by the taste.  After growing them I learned that the mouth-watering taste was in the dark berries.  Red fruit looks pretty in the market, but doesn’t come close to delivering on taste.

I’m happy to report that the vines have recovered.  They’re sending out healthy green leaves along their prickly, red stalks.  Stage one is looking good.  Next up: white flowers.  Then I’ll know we’re back in business.

Raspberry vines and daffodils

Raspberry vines and daffodils

raspberry vines

Will the vines produce fruit? Only the shadow knows for sure

raspberry vine

Healthy foliage, happy gardener

So, here I am counting my berries before they grow, but I can’t help myself.  Fresh rain and the countdown to spring bring out the optimistic gardener.

Stay tuned.

Do you have a favorite berry?

What do Trugs and Raspberries Have in Common?

Absolutely nothing!

Does this every happen to you?  You go into the store for one thing, then leave with something else? I popped into Home Depot today looking for another ‘Trug,’ the light but strong, flexible buckets known as Tubtrugs®. They are really handy in the garden.  I bought one a few years ago, and although they say the handles are ‘super strong,’ one of the handles on mine broke.  No matter.  I turned it into a worm bin. When I went looking for a replacement at the end of the season, they only had the smaller size.

Today I wandered around the store for a while, then asked for help from two associates. They had never heard of them before. As I readied to leave empty-handed I saw these:

Early Heritage Raspberries

Early Heritage Raspberries

Mmmmm…raspberries. The containers alone intrigued me along with the price.  $6.98 for an entire shrub of raspberries!!!  Holy cow.  I’ll take two, please. I thought all raspberries grew as vines until Boomdee mentioned growing them as shrubs.  Low and behold, there they were.  We really enjoyed eating berries off the vine last summer, so I figured the more the merrier.

I’m still in the market for a Tubtrug, but I left the store in a good mood anyway. Did anything interesting making it into your shopping cart this week?

Vegetable Box Quandry

My vegetable boxes resemble “before and after” pictures, but not on purpose.  Once the pumpkins were out, I cleaned the box to the right of the garden, and planted winter vegetables.  The box to the left, however, was chugging along with strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and a bird house gourd so I let it be.

Vegetable Box, Stage Right: Neat and tidy winter veg

Vegetable Box, Stage Left: chaotic jumble

The top-tier of the left box has eroded nearly a foot.  On the plus side, the erosion created a nice spot for one of the gourds to rest.  That said, I’m not sure how to save the existing plants while topping off the box with more soil.

Birdhouse Gourd

We live on a tiny lot, so sunny space is at a premium.  I try to maximize what I’ve got but was realizing today that I need to rethink the boxes.

This is year three for the “blueberries,” but they still aren’t producing.  The plant remains small, though healthy but at this rate I may as well call it a shrub.  We haven’t seen a single berry since we planted it.

Blueberry Shrub

Raspberry Vine

Raspberry Vine

The raspberries, on the other hand, took off this past summer and produced sweet and delicious berries for several weeks.  We enjoyed standing in the garden and eating them right off the vine. Is there anything sweeter than a sun-warmed berry?

I’ve considered transplanting the canes along the back fence, but I’m afraid I’ll set them back two years. It’s also a bit crowded there so they may not get adequate sun. I think the blueberry needs more room or more sun, maybe both.

My indecision (and the colder weather) leaves me in a quandary.  Should I leave well enough alone and wait till next spring to decide, or should I move the blueberry plant and raspberry canes now while they’re at rest?

Recommendations welcome.