Archive for the ‘fruit trees’ Category

Visited Stark Bros. Nursery yesterday

We had a family outing yesterday.  I can’t believe it has been 3 years since we went to the Stark Bros. Nursery last.  We came home with a truck full of awesome plants.

My wife got the best ferns ever. They are in 12 inch hanging baskets, but are so big and bushy they are about 4 feet wide. It might be a pain to keep them watered. I wonder if we could get them a bigger hanging pot?

I came home with an apple tree that is going to be espaliered. I wanted a McIntosh, but they didn’t have that variety, so I settled for Honey Crisp, which is also delicious.  I have room for 2 espaliered apple trees, so I’ll add the McIntosh later.  I got the bottom two rows of training wires set up against my back yard fence on the inside, but we still need to plant the tree.  That will probably happen tomorrow evening. I really hope this works out, but I think it will. I’ve done a lot of reading and have a good grasp on the concept and process.

I also bought some six packs of tomato seedlings, because I killed most of mine in the seed starting room this year by overwatering them.  I have backup seeds started, but they haven’t even germinated yet.

It was an excellent weekend outing and was just what we needed to make a cool overcast day better.

Apple Grafting Plan for next Winter

I am going to try this. I am going to add a McIntosh branch to my Yellow Delicious tree next winter so we can have a two-variety tree.  Now I have a deadline to find someone locally who has a McIntosh tree growing in their yard so I can get some scions.

Japan Invades my Back Yard

They sent beetles.

Japanese Beetle on an Apple Leaf

Japanese Beetles on my Yellow Delicious Apple Tree

Japanese Beetle on a Cherry Leaf

The Japanese Beetles showed up after all.  These unwelcome pests will do their best to completely strip leaves down to their framework of veins. I know first-hand that they love apple and cherry trees, grape leaves, sweet potato leaves, corn silk, beans and more. They are an evil scourge and the only way (acceptable to me) to get rid of them seems to be picking them off by hand.

Sour Cherry Raspberry Jam Canned

Sour Cherry Raspberry Jam

I pulled my cherries out of the freezer the other night, and got out my new cherry pitter.  I pitted the fruit until I had a full quart of pitted cherries and then I tossed in a small handful of raspberries I had picked that same night.  I was going to include a number of blackberries, but my wife ate them while I pitted the cherries. :D

I ended up water-bath processing 7 four-ounce jars, 1 half-pint jar (shown in the photo), and two jars that went straight to the refrigerator.  It’s delicious jam!

How to tell the difference between Blackberries and Raspberries

I was well over 30 years old before I learned the real difference between Blackberries and Raspberries. (Hint: It’s not color.)  Before learning how to tell, the names didn’t mean anything to me, and it didn’t help that you can find both of these berries available in varieties other than their traditional colors.

blackberry_with_and_without_stem2

A pair of blackberries, one with it’s stem attached, one with it’s stem removed.  Blackberries break cleanly from the plant and do not leave behind a “rasp”.  What’s a rasp?  Keep scrolling…

raspberry_with_and_without_stem

A pair of raspberries, one with it’s stem still attached, one with it’s stem removed.  Look closely and you will see that the raspberry appears to be hollow inside…at least much more hollow that the blackberry above.

raspberry_rasp

A raspberry next to it’s stem and rasp.  The part of the berry that was inside the fruit, but stays on the plant when the berry is picked, is called the rasp.

So now, with just a quick look,  you will know whether you are eating raspberries or not, whether the fruit is black, purple, golden, red or even green or white.

blackberries_reflecting_camera_flash

Cherry Pitter Acquired

This cherry pitter lives at my house now. I had to freeze all the cherries I had picked, but I’m going to thaw them and make a pie or some jam soon.

First Red Raspberry of the Season…and a plan

First Red Raspberry of 2012

Raspberries are–easily–my favorite berry.  I cannot get enough of these.  I’m a bit too lazy (and a bit too much AT WORK) to frequent the farmer’s markets at the best times to buy the choicest produce, so whenever I find any raspberries at all, it’s the last sorry-looking quart the farmer has for sale and they are half-way to juice already.  Maybe I’m just too picky…I know they would still make fine jam.

There’s just nothing like a perfect raspberry, picked and eaten right outside by the plant.

But, I have a plan.  The other day while hiking at an undisclosed public location, we hiked through what was at least a full acre of raspberries in flower.  They were a week or so behind mine.  I FULLY intend to revisit that location, with a backpack full of containers.  Guerilla harvesting?  Maybe.  I’ll keep you posted.

Cherry Harvest – A whole bowl full

Two dwarf Northstar Cherry Trees.

Two dwarf Northstar Cherry Trees.  These are sour pie cherries.  The trees are almost 5 feet tall and have been in the ground for 3 years, 1 month.  They were ordered as single sticks about 2-3 feet tall in 2009.

I am about as happy as I can be with these cherries.  The only way I could love these more would be if I had about 8 times as many trees.  They will most likely end up in a pie.  Gosh, I need a pitter.

Suspiciously missing this year

I can’t tell you why, but this year I have not seen any evidence of the moles that normally live in my back yard / garden.  I also haven’t yet seen a flush of June Bugs.  They normally show themselves in early May around here, so some refer to them as May Beetles.  Also, in all my digging, I haven’t seen a single Japanese Beetle.

If they all stay away, I’ll be OK with that.

Apples are putting on some size.

I pruned the apple tree back a little more and tied a couple branches to stakes to help shape it.  It set about 50 fruit from the 100 blossoms that flowered, and I removed all but about 15 of them.  The apples are the size of a quarter already, and seem to be doing well so far.

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