Got a lot of blackberries? Then check out this recipe for Blackberry Mojito Fruit Leather.

I'm not a huge fan of fruit leathers, but this turned out super good! And, really, you can't go wrong with blackberries, mint and rum.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Plant therapy aka fruit tree splurge

After Monday night's edible landscaping action at Sustainable Ballard, coupled with a conversation on gardens over at One Green Generation, I got a little excited and decided to head over to my local nursery to check out fruit trees. I have some money burning a hole in my pocket that I got from a writing project so what better to do than reinvest in sustainable, edible plants?

Arbequina olivesWell, from there I enlisted myself in a little plant therapy and stocked up for the season. I've been wanting to get these trees for over a year now and, well, there's no time like the present.

I ended up getting an Arbequina Olive tree that I'll keep potted to control how big it gets. While it takes 200 olive trees to make a decent amount of olive oil, you only need one to cure your own olives. I probably won't be harvesting enough olives in the next few years to produce any amount of significance, but I have plans to cure them myself. They are quite bitter without curing, but curing gives them a mild, smoky flavor.

I also got a tea plant, or Camellia sinensis, as I was inspired by Ingela and her tea plant at the meeting. I'll prune it to keep it at 4 feet tall and about as wide since I don't want a gigantic tea shrub. My husband loves tea and even though I doubt what I make will end up being anywhere near his favorite Earl Grey, at least his source of caffeine will be extremely local. I might try experimenting with tiny amounts of bergamot oil to create my own Earl Grey Lavender blend.

Columnar applesWhile I was at it, I picked up two columnar apple trees: a Northpole and a Scarlet Sentinel. The apples on these trees grow along the main branch and they pretty much grow straight up, although you can get them to spread a bit. Mature columnar apple trees average eight to ten feet tall and only about two feet wide. The fruit on them is normal size, but the tree itself takes up much less space.

Oh, and I may have picked up a few broccoli starts.

As usual, I'll keep you up to date on how the plants are doing and how the curing and tea making end up going.

25 comments:

meghantelpnerblog.com said...

So envious. The most I can manage in my yardless home are a few herb plants in the window. I may have to go over to Vanessa's (green as a thistle) yard, as she lives closest to me of anyone I know, and hijack some land to plant.

Hilarie Mae said...

I've never heard of those apple trees before. They seem really great if you don't have a lot of space, but still want the fruit! Thanks for sharing your findings... I may have to engage in a fruit splurge of my own!

Farmer's Daughter said...

How does the fruit yield of those trees compare to a dwarf/semi-dwarf or full sized apple tree?

One of those apple trees might make a neat addition to my greenhouse at school.

Anonymous said...

Well, I have no yard, but everything you just bought is exactly what I had been thinking I would get IF I had a yard. Damn it.

scifichick said...

Wow, those apple trees look really cool. I don't think I've ever seen anything like that. I'll have to keep it in mind when we have our own garden, hopefully, at some point.

Greenpa said...

You already know this, Crunch- but for those that aren't aware- owning a potted tree is the same kind of commitment that goes with owning a cat or dog.

The tree has real needs, and will die if pushed past limits, just once. If you go on vacation- somebody has to look after them.

It's part of the mystique behind very old bonsai trees- a tiny tree in a tiny pot 100 years old means- for 100 years, this tree has been cared for, properly, without fail, every single day.

Great stuff to get the kids involved in, of course.

Carrick said...

Oh my god I didn't know you could get apple trees like that!! I eat apples by the bushel--it'd be perfect for me! Too bad I wouldn't be able to get one though--my back yard isn't enclosed by a fence, and I'd be paranoid about people jacking my apples--or the whole thing. :(

Crunchy Domestic Goddess said...

those apple trees are awesome. i'd love to know how much fruit they produce.

risa said...

Great choices!

Columnars are such great space savers that some people put them right in the garden beds -- we went with mostly semi-dwarfs, mostly in the poultry area, for sharing the drops with our biddies.

Now I wanna have an olive and a teabush too ... whine ...

Laura said...

Anyone know if planting some kind of dwarf/short fruit tree right next to the house is a good or bad idea? I have dreams of apple and pear espaliers along the front of the house. I'm worried that the roots would damage the foundation or somesuch.

Those tall skinny apples are strange and cool.

Greenpa, what kind of care do these fruit trees need? Can you elaborate?
There is an asian pear tree in our yard that no one ever cares for in the slightest that still bears fruit and seems to be (relatively) happy. We are renting and I can't imagine that much effort has been put into that tree by the landlord or tenants over the years.

Correne said...

I LOVE those apple trees. I saw something just like that in Quebec City last fall. There were lots and lots of them planted against a wall. I actually thought that the wall was covered in vines, but when I looked closer, there were APPLES on the vines. It was the coolest thing ever. Now that I know what they are, I wonder if they will grow here? Hmmmm.

sealander said...

Just don't let your Mom prune them! ;)

Robj98168 said...

I ordered my columnars (finally) from raintree- I had a gift certificate- also ordered some strawberry plants as well.

JessTrev said...

My cousins have a bunch of olive trees on their vineyard and figured out a way to avoid pesticides. Let me know if you want me to ask them about the little hanging pheremone thingies on their trees. ;) Congrats on yr trees! No space for new trees here but got some seed taters today so I'm pleased as punch myself.

leslie said...

Since you live in Seattle, you can probably grow lots of other landscape edibles, like Pineapple Guava, Dianella, and Arbutus unedo. My most favorite is Ugni molinae, a Chilean small shrub. The fruit was so delicious that the queen of England had her gardeners grow it in their greenhouses and it was her favorite fruit. I bet it would easily grow in Seattle.

Condo Blues said...

Please let us know how the Camellia sinensis turns out! I had to remove all of the plants in my front flowerbeds due to japanese beetles last summer. I'm starting from scratch this year and want to plant double duty plants like herbs that look like pretty plants to the neighbors, but are things I can use/eat around the condo, like lavendar. You tea plant might be the answer to my problem. Can it grow in Zone 5 with only morning sun? harvesting the leaves for tea, won't be an issue. I got it down to a science after picking and drying mint from my potted herb garden all last summer.

Condo Blues said...

Please let us know how the Camellia sinensis turns out! I had to remove all of the plants in my front flowerbeds due to japanese beetles last summer. I'm starting from scratch this year and want to plant double duty plants like herbs that look like pretty plants to the neighbors, but are things I can use/eat around the condo, like lavendar. You tea plant might be the answer to my problem. Can it grow in Zone 5 with only morning sun? harvesting the leaves for tea, won't be an issue. I got it down to a science after picking and drying mint from my potted herb garden all last summer.

TinTex said...

Those of you wishing you had yards might check out Sharing Backyards. I just learned about it and was disappointed to see there's nothing (yet!) in my city.

http://www.sharingbackyards.com/

Veronica said...

Do you know if these trees are self polinating or did you buy 2 because they are not? Just wondering. Thanks!

Crunchy Chicken said...

Leslie - I don't even know what half those plants are that you mentioned. I best go look them up.

Condo Blues - Processing tea leaves is a bit more complicated than mint. The process is dependent on whether you are making green, oolong or black tea. The link in the post describes the techniques.

TinTex - Yeah, that website only has entries for DC right now, I think.

Veronica - The apples are not self-pollinating, which is why I bought two. The olive tree is.

As for the yield on the apple trees, I was reading that when they get about 6 years old or so, they produce about as much as a dwarf. It probably is also dependent on how big you let them get and whether or not you keep them in a pot or plant them.

Cheap Like Me said...

Ooh, I am envious of your olive (she wrote, looking at the blizzard outside). My husband is eagerly awaiting the arrival of two new apple trees. We have a cherry tree, an apricot that was pollinated before the snow (hopeful, hopeful), and two apples in place now. Our apples will be espaliered along a fence -- can't wait for them to grow and make us some fruit!

Chile said...

Hey, Crunchikins, you do know you can cure olives without lye, right?

RC said...

I am so happy that you are buying fruit trees and a tea bush. Ever thought of planting a fig? I believe it would be fine where you are with some straw on it over the winter.

Rosemarie said...

How great! Olive tree would be awesome to have. I don't have much space here, but I saw someone with a tiny front yard growing peach trees espalier style.

leslie said...

What I am suggesting is not just only go for planting fruit trees, but using your ornamental landscape as also edibles. Hence the funny names. Your local landscape specialists should be able to point out which plants in the industry can be eaten.

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