I finally am getting to eat some ripe mulberries this year, and they were — and are — very, very good. The wait wasn’t because the tree was too young. And anyway, mulberries are very quick to bear fruit, often the year after planting.
I got to eat fruit from my tree this year because resident birds have been kind enough to share some with me. Of course, it was not really kindness on their part. Birds also eat fruit for their juiciness, and the past weeks and weeks of abundant rainfall probably satisfied some of that need. The only other year I had plenty of mulberries — much more than this year — was a few years ago when 17-year cicadas descended upon here. All summer I awoke to their grating cacophony, but did feast on mulberries as birds feasted on the cicadas.
We fruit growers get especially excited this time of year. On the one hand, there’s the anticipation of the upcoming season. And on the other hand, we don’t want to rush things along at all. Ideally, late winter segues into the middle of spring with gradually warming days and nights. Unfortunately, here, as in most of continental U.S., temperatures fluctuate wildly this time of year. Warm weather accelerates development of flower buds and flowers. While early blossoms are a welcome sight after winter’s achromatic landscapes, late frosts can snuff them out. Except for with everbearing strawberries, figs, and a couple of other fruits that bloom more than once each season, we fruit lovers get only one shot at a successful crop each season. How did all these fruits ever survive in the wild? They did so by not growing here — in the wild. Apples, …
Fruit Nuts, Including Me, Nurseries, & Wild Blueberries
Are there organizations for people who make and eat cheese; build and ride motorcycles; write and read books; grow and savor fruits? All I know is that the answer to the existence of the last-named organization is a rowsing “yes!” I know because I recently returned from Oregon, where I converged with other fruit nuts for the annual meeting of North American Fruit Explorers (www.nafex.org, and nuts, incidentally, are also covered under the organization’s umbrella).
No need to don a pith helmet and traipse off to Borneo to be a fruit explorer. Not that you couldn’t, and be one. No, this fun meeting brought together everyone from backyard growers with a few fruit plants to AN 88-year-old guy who grows over 3,000 varieties of apples. Fruits represented ranged from apples and pears to pawpaws and persimmons and, even more rare, haskaps and gumis. …
Perhaps it was youthful rebelliousness, but for years, for decades, I lambasted my father’s roses. The roses reared up their colorful heads on the other side of the low, clipped privet hedge that bordered our terrace. If youthful rebelliousness was at the root of my rose aversion, that rebelliousness has lasted well beyond my youth, right up to the present day even though those roses are no more.
The plants were hybrid tea roses, in various colors. You’ve got to admit that the shrubs themselves, typically with a few gawky stems topped with disproportionately large blossoms, are not much to look at. The pointiness of the blossoms, a sought-after quality among hybrid tea breeders, is, for me, particularly unattractive. Couple that with the blaring colors and you get the picture, for me, that is.
Hybrid tea roses are not particularly tough plants, succumbing to insects, diseases, and winter cold. …
Spring is here, in my basement. Allow me to set the scene. My basement is barely heated and I replaced what once was a south-facing Bilco door with a wooden frame supporting two clear polycarbonate panels. Plants that need light and tolerate or need a winter cold period, down to near freezing, have their wishes fulfilled out there in that old Bilco entranceway.
Temperatures are more moderate there than outdoors, generally warmer except later in spring when the basement’s mass of concrete keeps things cooler than hot, sunny days outdoors. Through winter, though, the non-frigid temperatures kept pots of Welsh onions, pansies, oregano, kumquat seedlings, hellebore, olive, pineapple guavas, and bay laurel green and happy. It’s cool Mediterranean climate down there, in winter, at least.