A Fruity Look at 2017
High on the priority list over the next couple of weeks is cleaning up the raspberry and blackberry runs. I mulched last year but the grass & weeds just keep taking over as I’ve never had enough time to edge...you would think I'd know better by now. The raspberries are doing well regardless, but the blackberries have taken a beating - I'm sure our hot, dry weather last summer didn't help matters.
The blackberry canes are so small that if it weren't for the flags,
we wouldn't know where the runs are.
|Amongst the grass and weeds, there are signs of life from some blackberry canes|
Raspberries - doing ok even with the grass encroachment.
The old strawberry bed was ripped out last year, so I needed to order some new plants. I placed the order in early spring and they arrived the first week of May. This year, I decided to try a completely new variety – St. Laurent. This particular strawberry variety is June bearing and, according the suppliers website, produces strawberries that are very large with good flavour. The plants are also supposed to have excellent productivity.
|Bare-root strawberry plant|
The plants were transplanted a couple of days after I received them.
|The strawberry bed, shortly after transplanting|
The last two fruits in the berry lineup are the blueberries and haskaps. The blueberry bushes are struggling - a lot - with barely any growth.
Our soil is alkaline so I prepared a special bed for them filled solely with compost and peat moss. In addition, I gave them a dose of elemental sulphur this spring. We’ll see if they pick up but if I don't see some improvement this year, I will likely resign myself to the fact that we just don’t have the proper conditions here and pull them out.
The haskaps, on the other hand, are doing well and one of them even flowered this spring.
Unfortunately, the other variety didn't so it's unlikely we'll get any berries.
The Fruit Trees
The figs (and many of my transplants - ugh!) have gotten off to a rough start this year due to a couple of very windy days. The figs are recovering from the battering and now that the danger of frost has passed, I will be placing them in their summer home on the hilltop.
The nectarine tree bloomed profusely for the first time this spring. We did have a couple of late frosts, but the tree is small enough that I was able to cover it up with a double layer of Agribon, which I spoke about in a previous post. I thought this had saved the blossoms as they seemed ok when I uncovered the tree, but when I examined the tree just this morning, it doesn't look like any fruit has set. Oh well, there's always next year.
The cherry & plum (Shiro and Burbank varieties) were also in bloom when frost hit, but they were too large to cover. I had assumed that this would mean no harvest this year, but it appears that quite a few cherries and plums have set. All of these trees are in different areas, so perhaps their micro-climates made a difference. Another possible explanation would be that the cherry/plum blossoms are simply be more resilient than the nectarines.
Sometimes, however, it’s not about the frosts. The French Prune and "Mystery Plum" were in full flower last week (unfortunately I missed the photo op) and have not been affected by frost. In prior years, I have only harvested a handful of plums from the French Prune and not one plum has every been harvested from the mystery variety, which is smack-dab in the centre of the tree.
One possible explanation is that I have never thinned the Shiro and Burbank plums, which set their fruit earlier. By the time it was the later varieties turn, the tree ended up dropping the majority of fruit.
Five-In-One Plum Tree
Just a side note if you are considering purchasing a three-, four- or five-in-one tree, sometimes, the varieties grafted onto the tree bloom at different times, which makes the tree look a bit odd when in flower. In my case, half the tree blooms in late April while the other half blooms about 2 weeks later.
Last but not least is the potential for the first apple this year - or apples, if we are lucky :)
I planted 3 semi-dwarf apple trees in the spring of 2015 and 2 of them are currently in bloom.
The Honeycrisp has not developed as quickly as the other two, which is expected as it's described as a low-vigour tree.
When it comes to the fruit trees, every year it’s a waiting game. First we wait to see if any fruit will set. Then we wait again to see if that fruit actually reaches maturity without being snatched, infected or infested. Nature’s desserts are never a sure thing.