Blog Update!
For those of you not following me on Facebook, as of the Summer of 2019 I've moved to Central WA, to a tiny mountain town of less than 1,000 people.

I will be covering my exploits here in the Cascades, as I try to further reduce my impact on the environment. With the same attitude, just at a higher altitude!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Backyard Booty: Fruits

Bluecrop blueberriesThis new series, Backyard Booty, will not be a montage of pictures of my ass. Sorry. Instead, it will be a description of what fabulous edibles I am growing on my urban homestead.

This edition is all about the fruits. I, of course, will be updating this as I add new fruits to the mix. I have grandiose plans, but not a whole lot of time lately. Couple that with some severely wacky weather. For instance, we've had winter temperatures up through May and this weekend it's supposed to be 90. WTF?

Anyway, I haven't really added anything yet this year to the fruits but I do hope to eventually dig out some more rose bushes to add in dwarf apple trees. What I really want to plant are grapes, both table and wine, I just need to scrape up some space for it.

Here's what's growing this year so far:

4 x 1 Cherry Tree. What this means is that 4 types of cherries have been grafted onto one tree. This is great for urban yards where you don't have a whole lot of space to make sure you have enough cherry trees for cross-pollination at the correct time o' year. I bought this last year at Rain Tree Nursery.

Dwarf Negronne Fig. I also bought this one last year. It's minuscule, but it is supposed to get about six feet tall if I let it. It's currently less than 2 feet, but it's trying real hard to produce fruit. These trees are great - they produce fruit twice a year. I just need to be patient or buy a more mature one to supplement my figgy needs.

Blueberries. I have Bluecrop and Olympia varieties. I have space for more, but I just haven't had a chance to go out an get some more. But I'd like to add two more bushes for maximum blueberry action.

Tristar strawberriesTristar strawberries. Oh, how I've been patiently waiting for you strawbs. I planted these last year and this year am suppose to get some sort of strawberry bounty. I have about 16 plants, which sounds like a lot but it isn't. The Tristar grow well for this region, and produce all summer long. So far, we have flowers going to town, so I'm hoping it has survived all the late snow. Go, strawberries, go!

Neighborhood booty. Not that these are growing in my yard, but I have some neighborhood bounty that I'm hoping to take advantage of this year. One neighbor at the end of the block has a plum tree that hangs quite a bit onto the public sidewalk. Last year I availed the tree of all the fruit that was created a public nuisance/hazard by dropping fruit onto the sidewalk and attracting bees and yellow jackets. Not sure if this is legal, but no one said anything! My next door neighbor has an apple tree. I'm fairly sure they aren't eating any of the fruit off of it because, well, I'm watching them. Mwwoohahaha!

Down the road there is a ginormous fig tree that is on the public parking strip. I daydream about camouflaging myself and making a midnight foray to steal fruit from this very mature fig tree. Maybe this year I'll have the huevos to collect some.

Farther afield. A friend from work has an orchard in Central WA. I'm hoping to save him again this year from an overwhelming amount of organic peaches, apples and whatever else I can get my hands on.

What kind of fruit do you have growing this year?


Anonymous said...

Does anybody have any experience with cherry tree worms? I have a very old tree in my yard, and each and every cherry has its own little worm inhabitant. I'd love to be able to eat the cherries, and it seems like such a waste not to. I have never seen organic cherries out there at farmers' markets -- now I know why!

I don't want to use pesticides -- what is the best way to deworm a cherry tree?

Anonymous said...

We have no fruit in our yard/garden. Other than the watermelons the kids grow every year. I would so like to find a seedless bush variety to grow so they don't take over like in years past. But havent yet.

I would love a couple dwarf peach trees and 4-6 blueberry bushes....

jewishfarmer said...

We have a large property, so we've got tons of fruit, including an old apple orchard mostly shaded out by new growth forest that I'm working on rehabbing and clearing.

But a lot of our fruit is planted in a very small space - in a sheltered area between our porch, the garage and the dining room that is sheltered and south facing, I've got two quinces, two apricots, am adding two dwarf peaches, have 3 raspberries, 3 hazelnuts, blueberries and elderberries.

Scattered around the property we've got more elderberries, wild blueberries, 8 apple trees, 2 pears, hawthorns, bush cherries, one pie cherry, a mulberry and lots and lots (5 long raised beds) of strawberries. Oh, and I've got another bed of rhubarb and alpine strawberries.

This year I'm adding a Goumi, a couple of new apples and making another attempt at grapes. Yay!


Anonymous said...

I just planted blueberries but they're not looking so good. A bunch of the leaves fell off =( Maybe it's still too cold here? I also planted blackberries but they look real good. I even see a green berry!! Let me know if you have any tips about the blueberries...

Anonymous said...

Let's see - I have about a 1/4 acre dedicated to fruit. We have a pear tree, two quince trees, a cherry tree, and an apricot tree. I also have two blackcurrant bushes and two redcurrant bushes and a very sad strawberry patch that I'm going to dig up and put melons in (I'm going to put the remaining strawberries in a large planter). I just put in two more apricot trees (I had lost one but don't remember which), two pawpaw trees, and a persimmon. I have two chinese hawthornes on the way, as well as rhubarb, four more blackcurrants, four more red currants, two white currants, and some maypop passion fruit coming next week. There is going to be some serious lawn tillage this weekend in anticipation. My friend the farmer with a handy greenhouse has my ground cherry seedlings and watermelon at the moment.

These are all my "practice" plants. I'm looking for some land to start a small orchard of fruits that nobody seems to grow much in upstate NY - stuff like quinces, pawpaws, hawthorne, etc. It'll be a few years before we can buy the land and build, or buy a land/house combo, so I have a little patch dedicated to fruit so I can learn about them on a small scale while I wait.

Wendy said...

We have two high bush blueberries, a small plot of "volunteer" low bush blueberries, two service berry bushes (similar to blueberries), raspberry brambles, two peach trees, a granny smith apple tree, a crazy out-of-control concord grape vine and a small strawberry patch. I've ordered cherry trees, and I'm planning to add hazelnuts, too. My neighbor has an apple tree he doesn't harvest, and there's a very happy looking apple tree near the off-ramp going toward the mall that I have my eye on :).

Anonymous said...

What I have: Blueberries (6), strawberries, raspberries, grapes (for eating-"Candice," very yummy variety), pears (5 x ), apples (2), quince (fruiting variety), European plums (2), rhubarb, and a sour cherry.

What I still want: more grapes, a sweet cherry, and an Asian plum. Also hazelnuts if I can figure out where to put them.

All this on a small city lot! It works because it's a small house. Except for one of the apples, they are all small varieties or are being espaliered.

Jennifer said...

We have two old apple trees that have dropped their apples every year from lack of water. This year, we are planning on watering as necessary, and maybegiving a little fish fertilizer so we can have apples!

As we landscape, I want to plant blueberry and raspberry bushes instead of "normal" landscaping bushes, too...

Anonymous said...

I have 50 strawberry plants, rhubarb, 7 blueberry bushes, 7 blackberry bushes (plus a huge patch of wild blackberries in the woods), 7 gooseberry bushes, 6 elderberry bushes, 6 currant bushes, 10 grape vines, 2 apricot trees, 2 plum trees, 3 cherry trees, 1 peach tree, 5 apple trees, 3 persimmon trees, melons in the garden, and a partridge in a pear tree. Umm . . . no, not the last one!

I have room to double this, but will have to wait until next Spring and our tax refund. That's how we bought this year's orchard additions. I'm learning that it takes a LOT of fruit to feed my family from harvest to harvest.

Anonymous said...

You go get those figs. Why let them go to waste? There is an apple tree on the property of a dentist's office near my house, and I intend to harvest from it this year.

Lynnet said...

I envy those blueberries; they just don't like it here with our dry climate and alkaline soil. BUT.... we've still got a lot of fruit, enough to keep us in fruit for the year.

We've got an acre in a foothills river valley; fruit wants to grow here.

--Three full-size apple trees and a young apple.
--Four Siberian peaches (great dried).
--Plums: greengage, purple (planted by the bear), and scads of wild plum.
--Nanking cherry a bunch. Montmorency cherry an old tree and a whole thicket of its children planted by the birds, bearing cherries now.
--Autumn olive (they bear a nice small fruit); serviceberries, gooseberries, black currant. Goumi hasn't borne fruit yet; Shipova mountain ash, no fruit yet.
--Brand new: medlar, two elderberries.
--Chokecherries grow by themselves (too bad I'm not a jelly eater).
--A small strawberry bed
--Two grapevines, one bearing, one very slow.
--A young pear; a young mulberry. Texas mulberry trees planted by the birds, bearing pretty white mulberries. A quince, small, bearing 3 quinces a year.
--Black raspberry, planted by the birds, under the apple trees.

I've been putting in fruit trees or bushes each year in the ten years we've lived here, and the critters have done their part. The wild plum and chokecherry would take the whole yard if I didn't cut them back.

If only vegetables were so easy......

Greenpa said...

Regarding harvesting "public" or unclaimed fruit- I recommend a slightly different path from "midnight requisitioning". Ask-somebody.

The real problem is that when the community determines that "nobody', ie. everybody, owns or is entitled to this fruit- things get nasty. "I was going to pick those tomorrow, you get out of here!" - eventually moves to - all the fruit disappeared last night- a full 2 weeks before it was really ripe. It's one of the reasons city planners refuse to plant fruit or nut trees on city streets- you get fights. (Besides dings in cars from falling walnuts.)

The alternative- go knock on the neighbor's or dentist's door- say "I notice you've got a bunch of fruit you don't seem to use- would it be ok if I harvested it- and I'll give you some of the jam?" or whatever you make.

You'll rarely get a no- they're going to be delighted to get 2 quarts of whatever (a tiny fraction, but they'll never know) and, you now have established the right to that fruit. Less pain all around.

Cave-Woman said...

One mulberry tree.
It's gorgeous. The cedar waxwings love it and so do I.
Last year we made two pies, several batches of muffins, and mulberry pancakes.
Soooo good.
I don't think they would preserve very well, unless it's through dessication.

Chile said...

Thanks, Greenpa, I was going to suggest the same thing. I have a friend with fruit trees right next to the sidewalk who curses about people stealing the fruit. She is more than willing to give it all to someone who asks, though.

In terms of what fruit we have at our rental house: 1 tangerine tree, 1 pink grapefruit tree, 1 rough lemon, and a pomegranate. Unfortunately the latter splits its fruit before it's fully ripe so only the birds enjoy it. My sweetie planted a couple of watermelon as well.

Locally, I've been able to share in others' harvests of lemons, limequats, Calamondin limes, and oranges. There are also U-Pick orchards within 100 miles that we visit once a year for apples, pears, and peaches. And we get tons of melon through the CSA.

Theresa said...

We have three acres of aspen parkland and are privileged to have numerous Saskatoon bushes on it (also called service berries). We have wild raspberries as well, and I made a little bit of jam from them last year. I've planted strawberries, which managed to survive the winter, and we are looking at getting an Evans Cherry (hardy to my zone 3a) and a beaked hazelnut tree, which is native to my area of Canada. We're going to plant a few apple trees too, but not sure which kinds yet. We have a u-pick apple and strawberry farm within a few kilometers of us, and blueberry u-picks within a few kms more. I've decided all my annual and perennial plantings this year will be edible, which is just how I'm going to be doing things from now on.

Anonymous said...

Oh how I miss the neighborhood booty from my old house! There were tons of mulberry trees around the neighborhood that no one else seemed to be harvesting. I'd go out and pick fresh berries for my cereal every morning when they were in season! There were some strawberries that were on a part of a neighbor's yard that they didn't seem to be taking care of. It was sort of a no man's land, and I don't think they knew the strawberries were there. Another neighbor had grapevines along the alleyway... yumyum! Ooh and the cherry tree down the street!

Now I live in an apartment with no yard in a completely different city. I haven't found any neighborhood booty yet.

Nature Deva said...

We have a huge strawberry patch, an apple tree, plum tree, raspberry, boysenberry and 2 grape vines. Besides the strawberries, the rest are fairly new and still small. I am looking into dwarf varieties of fruit trees to put one in on the south side of my house that has a bare spot from transplanting roses. I can't wait to move to more land to have lots more fruit and veggie production.

Green Bean said...

How awesome! We planted strawberries and they have preggers now. Lots of babies growing. We put two blueberry bushes in the ground last fall which are starting to bear. Aren't you supposed to pick all the blossoms off or something, hmm.
We also have a baby apple tree, pomegranate tree, orange tree with the grossest oranges, lemon tree and several cane berries I planted bare root last winter. Hope to have lots to eat this year!

EcoBurban said...

Sadly, no fruits... I live in a treeless, gardenless suburban-tundra. My neighbor two houses over has a pear tree planted before time began I'm sure. I think I will take Greenpa's advice and ask for some pears this year - If I can get to 'em before the birds.

See, I live on a lake and 15 or so years ago people decided it wasn't cool to have trees blocking your view and folks ripped them down. We have since been repurposing our yard to add trees back IN AS PART OF THE VIEW. Needless to say, some aren't happy about my humungo Sugar Maple purchase of last year. It blew my garden budget - all on one tree, that tree was a 300 lb. miracle that already provides awesome shade! So, no change left for fruit trees of any sort. Maybe this year I can hunt down a cherry tree on discount and really piss off the neighbors! :o)

Anonymous said...

I am so jealous!!! We are just past the frist-free date and I have maybe 3 flowers on my fledgling strawberries.

Anonymous said...

Since we don't have a yard to plant in, my fruits and veggies are all in containers out on the deck/balcony. The only fruits we have are tomatoes (hehe) and 2 strawberry plants. I wish there was space for more. But, I do have one red strawberry already! And all the veggies are growing like gangbusters too. :)

Carla said...

Going a little overboard on the fruit this year:
Already have - rhubarb, 3 blueberry (very small) bushes, strawberries, raspberries
Planting this year - 3 fruit trees (1 each MacIntosh apple, Italian plum & an apricot that I can't remember the name of), 2 blackberry bushes, 2 more blueberry bushes, 2 grapes (1 Pinot Noir, 1 Chardonnay)
In the 'hood - 2 apple trees, one of which has just yummy apples, a serviceberry tree (no longer a bush) - which has some 'babies' that I'm trying to figure out how to bring home...
Still have to plant the grapes and the fruit trees, but at least I've decided where I'm going to put them.
Carla in N ID

Anonymous said...

I have added 2 blueberry bushes for a total of 3 and my strawberry patch is looking great. We share a chokecherry tree with the neighbor and he has told me I could have it's fruit as he has another tree in his back yard. This year it was covered with blossoms!

We once had a large cherry tree in our yard, but removed it after the racoons picked it clean for the second year in a row. I have photos.

Allie said...

I planted 8 blueberry plants and 8 raspberries and a whole bunch of strawberries this year. The waiting is killing me. I know the first year out you can't expect much if anything. . .

May said...

Oh, man I miss having a yard! I lived in this place in Seattle that had a plum tree right next to the door. It was absolutely heavenly :)

Robj98168 said...

I love Raintree Nursery- been a couple of years since I trekked down to Morton- I bought my Chinese Golden Plum down there and every year it gives me tons of fruit.

MichL said...

Wish me luck: this is my living room booty. Yes, that's right. I live in an apartment and have no lawn nor balcony. So I have a dwarf lemon tree (still pretty small, so only 2 lemons this season) a tomato plant, a chocolate bell pepper and a basil.

Anonymous said...

Mostly we have pears and blueberries. The orange trees dropped all the blossoms during the drought and the squirells ate all the tiny peaches. We have some wild blackberries as well.

Crunchy- Check out how to start new fig trees from mature ones. I hear you just prune a foot or so off and stick it in some dirt. It is supposed to be super easy.

Cindy in FL

Jenette said...

This year I added raspberries and strawberries ... I have a large bird population living close to my house so I am not sure what to add next year. So mostly veggies :)

Maeve said...

I third or whatever the motion to just go ask the person who owns the fruit trees & bushes if you can pick some. I've never had anyone be mad at me for asking, and sometimes they say yes. I have a line on organic pears... (they're organic not because the owner has a Philosophy, but because they don't bother with the tree at all. heh.) Hopefully the person's tree does well this year so I can get some again at the end of the summer.

I put in some raspberry canes this spring. They were from a friend who has them growing invasively into her lawn, and folks who don't know raspberries ought to know they are really weeds. Tasty weeds! I may get a few berries this year, but the real crop will begin next year (and forever afterwards, and turning themselves from a tidy single row into a nice proper bramble patch) :)

I'm planting watermelon and pumpkins in the garden this year. Hopefully they mature nicely.

Next year I plan to focus on putting in some strawberries or berry bushes (blueberries, currants?). Each year I reclaim another bit of neglected yard, and put in another perennial herb or two, and so my progress is slow, but this way I'm hoping I don't get overwhelmed with too much stuff in the yard.

Oh, and I know a couple of people with apple trees, who always end up with more apples than they can use. Usually a bit on the wormy side, but chopped up for pie filling or made into applesauce, and it's not that big of a deal. Someone asked about cherry trees... I don't know how you'd prevent an infestation, but I'd suggest make chutney or preserves, and you can discard the bit of worm along with the pits. Any you miss is just extra protein. ;)

Anonymous said...

At last count we had 19 fruit trees in our yard. It's kind of crazy. But the cherries are ripe for the picking now. Oh, and the strawberries are coming along too. We have a persimmon, a cherry plum, a cherry tree, an asian pear, a pear, two lemons, an orange, a weeping plum, two apples, a prune, two peaches, a nectarine, two figs, a kumquat, a kaffir lime, and actually, I think thats about it. It's fantastic to have it all though

Connie said...

Ohhh I'm a little envious over hear reading about the bigger properties.

When we bought our house last fall, it had a large mature apple tree that I was so happy about - it blew down in a freak windstorm at closing.

We have a large mature apricot tree and so far the frosts have not hit at the most vulnerable times.

I planted: Grafed 4x cherry, grafted 4x apple, a dwarf peach (maybe too shady now that things have leafed out) and put a full sized pear tree to replace the apple. I've also planted one raspberry and am clearing old dead wood bushes away from the side of the house to put in raspberries.

When I get the raised beds in, I'll have a strawberry bed all its own. They're selling blueberries here but I know we have alkalie soil and they need acid so I'm not sure what's up with that.

Stephanie, I think one sprays dormant oil spray early in the season for the worms.

Kristi said...

Ask, and ye shall receive. Or something like that.

We have 50 strawberry plants, four dwarf apples, two cherries, two pear, wild blackberries in the woods, and a filbert. I actually managed to make a little maple syrup from our still-too-young sugar maples. I'm going to buy a bunch of cranberries from Raintree. They're on sale right now.

Dreaming of currents red and black, blueberries, mulberries and sour cherries, which I'll probably get once Mr. Creepy next door puts a fence around "his property".

hmd said...

Unfortunately, we have nothing, but my Dad (20 minutes away) has 100 acres that are covered in dewberries. I think they still have some wild grapevines on some of the fences too. We picked a couple gallons of berries a few weeks ago and froze them for the winter months (well, we froze the ones we didn't stuff in our face). Yum!

Anonymous said...

Careful with eating fruit that has dropped on the ground. There have been cases of people getting E. coli from eating apple cider made from drops (sparking the whole pasteurization craze here in the North East). My family has actually stopped making cider, because it's too risky if someone get sick, even though we don't use drops. If they're falling where animals could have visited (read: pooped), you should make sure that you cook this fruit. Or cook it just in case.

Anonymous said...

I have three small strawberry plants that I'm hoping will bear fruit next year. In the mean time I'll just star at them and will something to happen. Since they grow well in containers it will probably be the most fruit we can grow ourselves for awhile.

han_ysic said...

I have a lemon and two oranges in the house I just moved into. (Bought!!) All in desperate need of feeding and pruning, and clearing out other trees. There's also a mandarin down the road that no-one is eating from so I usually pick a few on the way home from work (I can walk to work from my new house)

C and G said...

Oh oh -
rhubarb - just harvested my first round!
2 kinds of strawberries
red raspberries
yellow raspberries
an apple tree with 4 diff kinds grafted on
pineapple guava
espalier apple with two kinds grafted on
a gravenstien apple tree
9 blueberry bushes
red flame table grapes
Italian plum
watermelon - if all goes well!
and a figgy

my favorite part of the summer is "foraging" breakfast in my yard every morning!!!

Anonymous said...

Well done on your fruit.
We have loads of fruit in our garden including 7 blueberries in a tiny space (my husband always crams too much stuff in) but they produce loads of fruit.

May I recommend blueberry varieties 'ozark blue' and 'chandler', both heavy croppers and large tasty fruits.

Don't forget they will be very happy in comtainers if you have alkaline soil.

Anonymous said...

2 apples, 2 pears, 4 blueberries, 1 peach, strawberries, asparagus

Going in - More asparagus, Raspberries (red and yellow), Blackberries, jerusalem artichoke, and 2 cranberries. Rhubarb donated by a neighbor.

Running out of yard. Only the pear tree is mature and the squirrels pick it clean every year. Can't wait til the other one matures.

Nazila Merati said...

figs, cherries, apples, tiny arctic kiwis, pears, peaches, raspberries, fraise des bois, regular strawberries, fall bearing raspberries too.

neighbors figs are replete and not picked, so we pick them and munch away.

We need a neighbor with a plum tree.

Jen said...

Not sure if this is legal
It is absolutely legal. Legal precedence actually goes back to ROMAN law (how cool is that?) Once its over the property line it is considered free game.

However, I agree its still nice to knock and ask. In our last house this lady had a huge apricot tree that went over the fence and I kept yelling at the kids whenever they kept picking green fruit. I kept telling them to leave it up there for another couple of weeks, it will taste better! =)

Anonymous said...

I love to grow fruit- although it can be somewhat challenging these days it seems as the weather is so weird....

I grow blueberies for market- so have well over 300 of them- plus strawberies for market as well. For just household use I've got apples, sour cherries, plums(have gotten a couple but mostly they get zapped by frost), apricots- always zapped by frost so far, pears- just starting to flower- first pears last year-yum, raspberries, grapes, and have just started some cranberries, currants and blackberries- will see how they do here...

For fun I am trying to grow some stuff that won't grow outdoors here-figs, lemons, limes, etc- take them in for the winter(all 8 months of it ;-) )....... the figs are nearly my size now-no flowers as of yet- and the lemon has made tiny fruit wich has fallen off- but it is still a young tree so I'm hopeful. No sign of any flowering in the lime yet though...... I'm trying olives as well- two pots of those......