Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Fruits of 2016


We had some winners and some losers when it came to fruit last year.  But one of my happiest fruit moments was when we harvested the one and only fig:


The fig trees were purchased at a sale in 2015 and stored in the basement cold cellar over the winter.  Given the ups and downs these plants went through in their first year (have I mentioned how bad I am at remembering to water potted plants?), I was just happy that they were still alive in Year 2 – the fig was a bonus 😊.  Over the summer I placed the containers on the hilltop with a couple of drip irrigation lines running to the pots and they flourished although, sadly, we didn't harvest any more figs.

The strawberries also did well – we harvested 3.5 kg/7.8 lbs of fruit which is not bad considering the 8'x4' bed was in its 4th year.


The bed was on the decline, however, as the harvest was down by about 25% from the prior year.  In the fall, I ripped out the plants and am starting fresh this year.  Ideally, I should have started a new bed last year so that I could harvest this season, but I had neither the time nor the bed space (I didn't want to grow them in the same bed and all the others were occupied).

When it came to the cherry and plum tree it was a disappointing year with zero cherries harvested and barely half a pound of plums.

The cherry did set a good amount of fruit, but netting it was difficult due to it's height/width.  The birds picked at the protruding cherries and then entered the netting from underneath - pits were all that remained.

I pruned the cherry tree last year, reducing it's height and heading back a few of the longer side branches.  I'm hoping that this will make it easier to net this time round.

Remains of the bird buffet

In terms of the plums, I’m not sure why they didn’t bear well – it may have been frost damage or perhaps they bore too heavily in the prior year since I didn’t thin out the fruits (which can lead to bi-annual bearing).

Shiro Plums

When it came to pruning the plum,  I shortened a few very long branches that were practically on the ground when the tree was laden with fruit in 2015.  In addition, one of the varieties grafted onto the tree is more vigorous than the others - Shiro.  I thinned this variety quite a bit as I don’t want it to take over the tree or draw too much energy away from the others.  The plum also has an issue with black knot which I'm trying to keep on top of by pruning out infected branches

Black Knot - yuck!

The plum tree is a five-in-one but one of the varieties is a mystery as I lost the tag years ago.  Only two of the five varieties have ever produced a good harvest – Shiro and Burbank.  I’ve picked a few French Prune plums as well but the other 2 varieties – Santa Rosa and the mystery variety (MV) have not produced any harvests over the 6 years I’ve had the tree.

I’ve noticed that the Shiro and Burbank bloom at the same time, with the French Prune and MV blooming 2 weeks later.  Just a note that since I've never had any fruit from the centre of the tree, I'm guessing that this section is the MV.  There is a chance, however, that this entire section is French Prune and the MV has been lost due to lack of vigour or pruning.  If this were the case, it would explain the poor results for the French Prune as it wouldn't have a pollination partner.

The final variety is Santa Rose, which is a tiny twig – literally – at the bottom of the tree.  It has barely grown since I planted the tree.

Santa Rosa

I’ll be trimming this variety off when I do my next pruning as it will obviously never amount to anything.

Lastly, we have the berry canes which had their own share of good and bad.  The good:  We harvested the first bowl of raspberries - hurray!


The bad?  With everything else going on in the garden last year, other than an initial layer of mulch and occasional watering, I neglected the berry runs all season.  They are pretty much overgrown now (that pic will be in my 2017 post), but this is what the runs looked like in early summer last year:

Blackberries

Raspberries

Even with the invasion of grass and weeds, the raspberries still did ok, but the blackberries suffered.  Not only did I not harvest any blackberries but I also ended up losing quite a few canes.

Coming up in my next post:  A fruity look at 2017.

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things” ~~ Robert Brault

16 comments:

  1. Co-incidentally I have a fruit post waiting to be published and have mentioned the same problem with our cherry. We are thinking of cutting it back as you have. As for plums ours tend to have a good year followed by a poor one.

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    1. We need to do a bit more cutting back on the cherry as a couple of branches are still too long, but once that's done, it should be much easier to net.

      I checked our plum today and it looks to have a good amount of fruit set. I'm going to thin the fruits this year and it will be interesting to see if that helps with the bi-annual issue.

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  2. What a bonus that fig was. My little fig tree is just that, little. I don't expect it to fruit for years but my neighbour has got a fig tree which bears loads of figs. I'm hoping that my own little tree will get to that stage at some point. I think the thing I miss most from my allotment are the strawberries.

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    1. I'll certainly be missing strawberries this year - it will be difficult to pinch off the flowers this summer, but it will pay off in the years that follow. You are so lucky to have a neighbour with a flourishing fig tree - I would be knocking on their door to get some tips!

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  3. I feel for you pinching off your strawberries as I also have to do that to my new bed I panted this past spring until August.You are lucky to have so many fruit trees. Nancy

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    1. It's hard to pinch off those strawberry flowers, isn't it?

      I wish I had planted my earlier trees earlier, but better late than never!

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  4. Yum, you have so much tasty fruit! The raspberries and strawberries look particularly yummy. Good luck for another great fruit harvest this year.

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    1. Oh, they are SO yummy, if the pests, diseases and birds don't get to them first! Fingers crossed that I get a few more fruits from the trees than last year.

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  5. That's too bad about the blackberries, they must need a lot of rain because they are absolutely invasive along coastal Oregon. And that is insane how the birds just picked your cherry tree clean, hopefully the netting will work this year.

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    1. I've heard that blackberries grow like weeds even here. I think they had a rough go of it because they were still young - I had only planted them out the prior year and we had a particularly hot and dry summer. From the looks of the tiny developing cherries on the tree right now, it may be a banner year IF I can keep those birds away :)

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  6. All your fruit looks so luscious, especially the fig! I hope you are able to keep the black knot under control.

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    1. So far I've kept on top of the black knot. Unfortunately, each year I seem to find another new disease on the fruit trees - they are definitely challenging!

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  7. It sounds like you're on track for a better fruit year this year than last. I have yet to harvest any fruit but hope to within a year or two. Fruits seem more difficult than vegetables, but they are so worth the effort.

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    1. You have that right - I guess the pests and diseases enjoy fruit as much as we do! Unfortunately, most fruit diseases are not curable so the only option - other than cutting down the tree - is to try to stay ahead of them and hope the harvest isn't affected too badly.

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  8. I am sure you will have many more figs this year. That sure is a gorgeous bowl of mouthwatering strawberries.

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    1. I'm going to miss my strawberries, for sure. Just one more thing to look forward too next year :)

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