The spring progress continues! Over the weekend, we finally picked up some more fruit trees to expand our mini-orchard. The property came with myriad berries, currants, and apple trees, but no other tree fruit. Last spring we planted 2 cherry trees, one Lapin, and one 4-way combo (brilliant invention, these!). This year we knew we wanted plums.
Our local nursery sells about a dozen types of plums, so it’s taken a while to figure out what to get! We knew we wanted an Italian Prune, for fresh eating, jam, and possibly prunes (which the Skipper LOVES). But what else? We looked at all the possibilities: goldens, red hearts, Santa Rosa, a variety of Asian options, Damsons and Green Gages. There were even combo options. But in the end, we ended up with a Seneca, which reportedly produces large, juicy, sweet fruit and also makes excellent jam and prunes. In the end it may not be much different than the prune plum, but as long as it’s tasty, that’s ok!
Here’s the expanding orchard, all mulched and ready for the growing season.
The combo cherry is in the front here, the two plums behind. There’s also a medlar tree in the middle, and another cherry in the back corner. Around the base of each tree is some cardboard over the weeds (to smother and keep new ones from coming up, and the weeds decomposing under the cardboard provide a nitrogen source), then a layer of manure and soil mix, then the straw to keep the moisture in and the weeds down (and easy to pull). We did get some sawflies on the cherries last year, and I’m also hoping I’ve buried them with this process so that they won’t return this spring.
In other fruit news, I had done the stupendous job of creating a new, orderly strawberry bed out of a hugely overgrown one located where we were putting in the new raised beds. Over the weekend, I decided it had rained enough (!) to mulch them well. I’m so happy to have this bed ready! Here’s hoping it produces well, even though I think a new bed doesn’t hit its fruit peak until the second year. We are willing to U-Pick for strawberries if necessary this year.
Lastly, the raspberries are starting to come up, but it doing so, they are demonstrating the unbelievable power of the cold frame. We had a cold frame (poly over a light wood frame) that fit over one of the old raised beds that we didn’t have anywhere to put away a couple of months ago. So we put it temporarily over the pruned back raspberry canes, where it only fit over about 2/3rds of the bed.
Well here we are a couple of months later:
These are everbearing raspberries, which means that 2 types of growth happen at once. The green shoots you can see growing out of the pruned canes will produce a spring crop of berries, and the shoots you see coming out of the ground will become canes that produce fruit in the late summer until frost. Genius!
So, umm, here’s what it looks like under the poly:
All of which leaves me with only one question: Can we put poly over the WHOLE garden?!