Small Fruit Sunday

Yesterday we planned to plant our newly arrived blueberry bushes in the beds we had prepared for them last fall. To our surprise, when we opened the package it wasn't just blueberries, but all of the small fruits we had ordered from Miller Nurseries. This turned our relaxing, light day in the garden into a pretty busy one — and a windy one at that. The weather the past three nights has dipped to just above freezing (so we continue to water and cover plants each evening just in case — a total pain), and during the day it has been sunny but incredibly windy. Not that much fun to be out in, but we had a lot to get into the ground.

Before the planting even happened, though, Kirk replaced our broken fence sections. Those had been down for a year and a half, and we finally have managed to be good neighbors and get them fixed. They look all nice and new now (which looks a little strange in comparison to the old sections surrounding it), but it should weather into the same silvery gray of old cedar soon enough.

Anyway, that fence gives a nice backdrop to all of our new berries in the berry beds:

On the left are our new raspberry canes. From front to back we have one Allen black raspberry, one Bristol black raspberry, three Latham red raspberries, and three everbearing red raspberries. On the right are our blueberries. From front to back: Blueray, Bluecrop, Ivanhoe, Atlantic, Jersey, and Herbert. The blueberries are planted roughly in the order that they should ripen. Miller's had a special collection, and we went for it, thinking it would be an easy way to stagger our harvest across the summer months. These all went into the ground pretty easily after a quick turning of the soil and the addition of some fertilizer (we like Cockadoodle DOO, but I imagine soon we will have our own). We used basically the same two-person system that we used for the asparagus: Kirk would dig, I'd hold the plant in place, and he'd backfill. 

In the distance in the two short beds are cranberries. These plants are interesting because they are low-growing vines:

They will grow like a groundcover and eventually fill the beds they are in. Because they grow so low to the ground, they are most often harvested by flooding the area and raking the berries off the vine. Since we have a small operation, that won't be necessary — we'll be sitting on the ground by the raised beds and hand-picking them.

We also put in 8 grapes along the very back of the garden:

This is just one (obviously), and I know it doesn't look like much--none of it does yet. We had to give the kids a tour of all of our new fruits to point out that these sticks were not really sticks, and shouldn't be grabbed for use in various adventure games. Anyway, we planted two apiece of Catawba, Concord, Himrod, and Reliance. We chose some varieties that we could maybe use for wine, but our primary focus is food rather than drink. 

Here is a plot of Tribute strawberries, planted in one-foot squares. These are an everbearing variety, so although we have to pick off the blossoms until July, we might get some fruit later in the summer or very early fall. This is only one quarter of the area we have set aside for strawberries, but we'll add 24 plants per year so that our strawberries are on a rotational system. That way if or when they are exhausted and we need to renovate an area, we'll still have 3/4 of our berries still producing.

Last but not least is our rhubarb. It isn't a fruit, but because it's perennial and so often paired with strawberries, we tend to think of it as one. Like everything else, it doesn't look like much right now, but the two we got in the mail were enormous roots, so I have high hopes that these will do well. Like most other "investment" perennial fruits and vegetables, we're not allowed to harvest any this year so the plant can get a good, strong start. But next year, we have visions of lots of excellent desserts and long canning sessions to fill our time!


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