Fruit - easy to hard
I have tried to get a variety of different fruits going in my yard to complement the annual vegetables. Some have been success stories, on some the jury is still out, and some have been failures.
Strawberries are definitely a winner. They produced fruit the very first year, despite all the books that tell you to pick off the flowers the first year to let the plants strengthen. Mine are a mix from Johnny's and an heirloom called Old North Sea from Baker Creek. The Old North Sea were planted in a cold frame, and the leaves actually stayed green all through a Vermont winter. Most strawberry varieties appear to be very cold-hardy. They die back under snow and cold, but start growing promptly again in the spring. Every three years I dig them up and move them to a new bed, and get more berries even in the first year. Right now the beds are covered in white flowers, and the first berries are starting to form.
Apples are also easy in this climate, but they take years to get going. Fortunately I have several trees already here. If I had to start my own, they would be a longer-term investment. You can make apple jelly from almost any apple tree, including crabapples. Apple butter works best with somewhat large apples with more flesh outside the core. Larger apples also work better for baking.
Wild raspberries are common here, and birds have seeded some in my vegetable garden. I dig them out of the good soil beds at the end of the season and transplant them to the native clay. This initially sets them back, but they recover within a year and start to spread. The berries are smaller than cultivated raspberries, but still very sweet.
Cultivated raspberries have been slow to get going. I planted a few in an early year, and they survived but hardly produced any berries. So I bought and planted more. The ones I put on the edge of the flower garden have survived, but still not produced much. The ones I put along the inside edge of the garden fence (in native clay soil) have done better, but still don't produce many berries per plant. However, the original plants are now successfully starting new plants near the originals, so my harvest is increasing.
I put honeyberries in several years ago and this is the first year that I may get some actual fruit. The plants look healthy, but don't seem to be easily pollinated.
Blueberries have been a failure. I put in six plants, one of which died the first year. One of the remaining plants was accidentally mowed, and while it survived it was set back. In about five years, I think I have only gotten one small handful of berries. The plants are still tiny despite adding sulfur and pine needles to keep the soil acid. It may be that they aren't getting enough sun, or that the soil isn't good enough, and of course the birds may be picking them over when I'm not looking.
What fruits work for you? What have you tried that failed?
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