Fruit - easy to hard

VermontCathy
VermontCathy Posts: 1,987 ✭✭✭✭✭

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?

Tagged:

Comments

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,641 admin

    I have haskap berries (honeyberries) and it has taken several years for them to get to harvest stage. Last year was the first time I got enough to freeze. About 8 cups. Before that it has just been enough to nibble on a few while in the garden. I have 4 plants now but only the first two are producing.

    I've tried blueberries before and am trying them again but they don't seem as hardy as the haskaps. Haven't had any fruit yet. Lots of wild blueberries and huckleberries in my area, though.

    I have planted 3 purple raspberries this year. They are doing well so far. My wild raspberries are similar, small but sweet and lots to be had.

    I have cherry trees, not sure of the species. They are volunteers that came from trees brought in by the first pioneers in this area. They are sour but when very ripe they are almost a bit sweet. Great in pies. I make juice with them as well and they make very good dried fruits.

    I have two apple trees but they are in bad need of a good pruning. Not much for flowers yet.

    I have two elderberry bushes but they don't like it where I planted them and I've only had fruit a couple of times. They tend to die back to the ground every year and only produce fruit on old wood. I have ordered more plants and they are going into a different spot.

  • annbeck62
    annbeck62 Posts: 1,024 ✭✭✭✭

    This year I started watermelon, mango, cacao and dragonfruit all from fruit purchased at the grocery store. Except for the watermelon, they are years away from bearing fruit (assuming I can keep them alive) but they were essentially free :)

  • nicksamanda11
    nicksamanda11 Posts: 754 ✭✭✭✭

    I have thornless blackberries that look to be a good harvest this year. My honeycrisp is only a 3 year old tree and my dog almost broke it last year so I think it'll be a while before I get fruit.

    I foraged black raspberries a couple years ago and brought home some plants. They are doing phenomenal.

    My rosa plum is still too young but the tree looks healthy so maybe next year it will produce.

    The crab apple will give me some good fruit this year I can see.

    I have one elderberry that looks like it will bear fruit this year, the other one may not like it's location because it looks kinda puny.

    I started hibiscus from seeds I saved and they sprouted right up so maybe I'll have some hibiscus calyxes this year too.

    And I must comment on strawberries- they grow like a weed and they are out of control! The patch is so thick that we couldn't even get to the strawberries in the middle so I am going to have to pull all kinds of plants out-I sure hope my neighbors need some-I hate just composting good plants-but I'm out of room to plant more anywhere else.

  • water2world
    water2world Posts: 1,162 ✭✭✭✭

    @VermontCathy Well, from the sound of your experiences, I am definitely going to try strawberries! Thanks.

  • Cornelius
    Cornelius Posts: 872 ✭✭✭✭

    @annbeck62 What store did you get the cacao seed? I have started dragon fruit from seed and also purchased a cutting (A trick is if you buy a fruit that still has a little bit of stem you can try to root it and it can grow a clone of the parent plant!). The yellow are my personal favorite but mine have yet to fruit.

    For strawberry's you can put one in a hanging basket on your porch?

  • JennyT Upstate South Carolina
    JennyT Upstate South Carolina Posts: 1,273 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited June 2022

    So this is still within our first year on this property. And we've uncovered everything from the kudzu. So it may take until next year for us to really see if anything will produce. As far as fruit goes there were elderberries here and they are doing better than the cuttings I sprouted from my plants at our old place.

    Raspberries, wild blackberries, mulberries, apples, figs, plums, grapes, Autumn olive, and some exotic Asian fruit, called Mandarin Melonberry or Che I think, that tastes like a mix of watermelon and cantaloupe. I don't know the name. I'll have to look it up again when some of the fruit fall. They may be other fruiting plants but we're just waiting to see.

    Most are doing so-so, the deer keep eating the raspberry plants so who knows if we'll get any. The wild blackberry vines are trying to grow back but the fruit is very small and not all that flavorful. Mulberries, we hadn't even found the trees until they had tons of fruit. Some trees were loaded but not ready and when we checked back again most fruits were gone. Apple trees have a few fruits but it's probably been the first time in forever so not sure how it will go. Figs are doing well hoping to get some this season. Plums, another it been forever since having any fruit so we'll see. So many grape vines it's hard to tell if there is any fruit or not, we haven't really noticed any yet. Autumn olive, nothing yet seeing as they produce more in the fall. We've spotted a few fruits on the exotic Asain tree but waiting for it to fall so we can get a proper name from fresh fruit.

    I have many fruits I want to try growing but for now, we're just trying to figure out what's here and if it will survive after being covered for about a decade or more with kudzu.😕

  • annbeck62
    annbeck62 Posts: 1,024 ✭✭✭✭

    @Cornelius thank you for the tip on the dragon fruit. I will be on the lookout for one.

    The cacao was from a stand at the farmer's market. I have several are showing viable life. We'll see if I get any trees.....

  • kbmbillups1
    kbmbillups1 Posts: 1,379 ✭✭✭✭✭

    My blueberries had a bumper crop last year but this year it doesn't look like I'm going to get nearly as many. We had a lot more rain last spring but not a lot this year.

    I have 2 fig trees but haven't gotten any figs yet. Last year my oldest tree got a few figs, but we didn't get any. I guess the birds, or something ate them.

    I also have a kiwi vine that I'm hoping will get some fruit this year. My pomegranate bush died. Something bored into it. I saw tiny holes in the branches and when I cut them down there was something living inside them.

    I have 2 small avocado trees I started from seeds. I don't know how long they grow before getting fruit. They're in pots growing inside my house beside the window.

    I do agree that strawberries are easy to grow! We started with 6 plants years ago and ended with a huge strawberry patch. We ended up getting rid of them though because they attracted LOTS of snakes. My kids were scared to pick the berries, and we didn't want to have to mess with the snakes. One time I'd put berry mesh over them to keep the birds from eating them. A huge black snake probably 6 feet long and as thick as a big fat cucumber was stuck in it. My husband and neighbor had to cut it out of the berry mesh to set it free.

  • SuperC
    SuperC Posts: 951 ✭✭✭✭

    We have a black elderberry bush that had many flowers and fruits.

    Wild raspberries and the shoots that replant themselves, it’s an invasive species.

    Black walnut trees are nearby.

    We have two or three concord grape vines, and one Frontenac vine and all of the vines produce delicious grapes. Did bud rubbing in May, and not it’s laterals removing time. I love all of the stages of grape vines!

    One crab apple tree. That just finished its flowering stage.

    The flora is amazing!

  • VermontCathy
    VermontCathy Posts: 1,987 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @kbmbillups1 If I had an issue with lots of large snakes in the garden, I would look into fencing tight enough to prevent them getting in. It's sad to hear you gave up on strawberries because of the snakes.

    @SuperC Every year the birds drop seeds of wild raspberries in my good garden soil and they start growing. I typically leave them there for one season so as not to disturb the plants around them, then dig them up in the fall and transplant them into native clay soil on the edge of the garden. That sets them back about a year, but they start growing again and produce small but sweet berries. Eventually I expect one whole side of the garden fence to have a line of them.

  • VermontCathy
    VermontCathy Posts: 1,987 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I picked and ate my first wild alpine strawberry of the season yesterday! The cultivated varieities have formed berries, but they're still green.

  • kbmbillups1
    kbmbillups1 Posts: 1,379 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @VermontCathy I'm not sure fencing would help. Last year we were picking blueberries and a huge black snake not quite as big as the one I described in the last post climbed right over our privacy fence to get away from us. We ran into it on the other side of the fence as we were going to pick over there and it was looking for someplace else to go. We watched it slither across our front yard, into the street, and down the road.

  • marjstratton
    marjstratton Posts: 1,132 ✭✭✭✭

    Fence climbing snakes! Oh, my! Could be intimidating if you have poisonous ones. I love the snakes in my area. Just garter snakes and a few other nonpoisonous types. Love to play with them too. I know, I'm weird.

  • kbmbillups1
    kbmbillups1 Posts: 1,379 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @marjstratton It did give us a scare! Not something you see often! We do have copperheads, but I haven't seen any as big as the black snakes. I found a small copperhead in my bushes in the front yard recently. When I realized what it was, I left quickly! No more trimming for me!

  • MissPatricia
    MissPatricia Posts: 318 ✭✭✭

    Blueberries have been our success story. Some years we have over 100 quarts. Last year we had a couple help us pick as we can no longer keep up. I put in 3 thornless blackberries and they are giving us lots of big berries. Raspberries are giving us a good harvest. Grapes are coming along. Elderberry too. Strawberries are all right. Fruit trees need to be sprayed regularly so we have never had much good fruit although the pear tree does the best. I seldom get any good fruit from cantaloupe and watermelon that I start from seed, but one year I got the most delicious cantaloupe ever. I keep trying and will try again.

  • VermontCathy
    VermontCathy Posts: 1,987 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @kbmbillups1 You should be able to build a snake-proof fence, but you'll have to design the fence with them in mind. An ordinary fence wouldn't do it.

    I did a quick look online and found this: https://fencesupplyonline.com/blog/how-to-build-a-snake-fence/

    Their suggestions are to dig the fence deep, use a slick vinyl surface on the fence to stop them climbing (and slope the fence outward), eliminate all gaps, remove any external aids they can use to climb such as tree branches that extend over the fence, and be vigilant with your maintenance. That makes sense to me.

  • VermontCathy
    VermontCathy Posts: 1,987 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @MissPatricia It sounds like you have a wonderful fruit garden! I have been challenged to produce anything besides strawberries and apples. Getting a good variety of fruit to do well in a garden seems to be a longer-term project than growing easy annual vegetables.

  • Lisa K
    Lisa K Posts: 1,919 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I got a big surprise the other day, even though I do not have a Plum tree anymore, my Pluot is getting fruit on it! There must be a Plum tree nearby that pollinated it. It is also the first year I am getting more than one Pluot.

  • VermontCathy
    VermontCathy Posts: 1,987 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I've never heard of pluot before. Plum/apricot hybrid? How interesting!

    Most web sites seem to recommend that plum trees for pollination be within 50 feet of each other, and that pollination drops off sharply with distance. But I wouldn't be surprised if you just happen to have a local bee pattern that is going farther. Do any of your neighbors have plums?

    Some plums are self-fertile. I don't know if pluots are.

  • Lisa K
    Lisa K Posts: 1,919 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @VermontCathy Yes Pluot is 75% plum and 25% apricot, it tastes like a plum but sweet & less acidic like an apricot.

    That is the curious thing, the first time I did not have a flowering plum and I do not know of any neighbors that have a plum but there must be. Also, this is the 4th year that I have a beehive in my backyard.

    Whatever the reason, I am thrilled!

  • marjstratton
    marjstratton Posts: 1,132 ✭✭✭✭

    @kbmbillups1 Yes, I would not mess with a copperhead.

  • marjstratton
    marjstratton Posts: 1,132 ✭✭✭✭

    @VermontCathy Some of the famers in eastern Washinton grow pulots. Very tasty.

  • VermontCathy
    VermontCathy Posts: 1,987 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @marjstratton If they will grow in Washington and are cold hatdy to zone 3 or 4, they could probably be grown here.

    Plums will grow and bear fruit at least as far north as Minnesota, so it is possible.

  • VermontCathy
    VermontCathy Posts: 1,987 ✭✭✭✭✭

    After getting honeyberry fruit for the first time last year, I don't think I am going to get any this year, despite that fact that both plants flowered at the same time.

    On the other hand, the strawberry beds are awash in flowers, and I expect an excellent crop. The apple trees also had many blossoms this year. Last year we didn't get many apples, so this year will probably be better.

    After several years, my raspberries are spreading underground and sending up more shoots. I think it will be a very good year for them. Some are wild, some were purchased. The wild ones are about as sweet as the domestic ones, but have smaller fruit.

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,641 admin

    @VermontCathy I had a much better honeyberry crop last year. This year there are less berries and they are smaller and quite a bit more tart than last year.

    I'm hoping I will get a few raspberries this year. It will be the first year for them.

    My daughter has had her first strawberries but she lost a few plants this winter.

  • VermontCathy
    VermontCathy Posts: 1,987 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I had to dig up, give away, and discard a lot of strawberries this year. They spread every fall and have to be cut back frequently.

    If they were wild they would be called invasive.

    So don't worry about losing a few plants here and there.

This Week's Leaders