Fruits of June.
June would not be complete without some mention of the fruits in my garden. Blueberries. Strawberries. Raspberries. Pears. None of them produces in huge quantities. That’s OK with me. I love to snack on berries while working in the garden. It’s also a treat to pick whatever berries are ripe early in the morning for a breakfast of granola, fruit, and yogurt. Bring them in for a quick wash, which is actually not necessary since they grow above the soil–in the air. The robins and a gray catbird, who I have not as yet captured in a photo, run me a race for the ripe blueberries. But there’s enough for all of us.
There are 6 blueberry bushes. 2 Patriots (early), 2 Northland (midseason), and 2 Jersey (late). I have yet to decide on a favorite in terms of taste or productivity. They get mulched with peat moss and compost at least once a year. They must be almost 10 years old by now. I don’t water them much, if at all, yet they are good producers. I guess their root structure is developed to the point of self-sufficiency with regard to water.
A nice rain during blueberry season always brings on big fat berries, like the one above, so abundant water is a good thing.
A new strawberry patch was started this year. I chose Sparkle bare-root strawberry plants from Johnny’s Selected Seeds. According to Johnny’s catalog, Sparkle strawberries are known for great flavor. Fruiting is from mid- to late-summer. Berry size is medium. As can be seen in the photo at top, the berries are indeed a medium size. Take my word for it, Sparkle strawberries have a great flavor. The best strawberries from the stores cannot compare with these.
The new strawberry patch is in a corner of the vegetable garden. It is formed by 4 black bags pushed close together.
Drip irrigation hoses circle the black bags. A huge amount of compost was added to the soil. I should not have allowed the strawberry plants to bear fruit the first year, but I did. So, we’ll see if that was a mistake. Why can’t I ever follow directions. A strawberry patch should bear fruit for 3-5 years. My last bed went for 10 years. When I tore up the old bed, I transplanted whatever hardy plants there were out into the flower beds. If they continue to produce, the birds will have a treat.
The raspberry bushes were transplanted this year, so they are still small. They had been quite close to the vegetable garden fence, so I transplanted them back a few feet. Stink bugs developed a liking for the raspberries last year. The stink bugs didn’t seem to do much damage to the raspberries, but they disfigured some of the tomatoes and peppers that were growing close by. I put a few feet between the raspberries and the vegetable garden fence. We’ll see if that’s enough space to make a difference with the stink bugs.
In previous years, I used tomato cages to support the raspberry bushes. This year, I managed to use all the tomato cages for tomatoes. What to do. While looking for tomato cages online, I came across an article by Brook Elliott in Mother Earth News titled “Using Wire Mesh in the Garden.” This is awesome. Get concrete reinforcing mesh. I got the flat panels from Home Depot. 5′ by 10′. The concrete reinforcing mesh also comes in 50′ or 150′ rolls. I have 7 raspberry bushes, so the flat panels seemed like the simplest way to proceed. The concrete reinforcing mesh is not galvanized, so it will be rusty. Cut off the bottom wire on a 10′ side so there’s wire spikes to push into the ground. Cut off 1 side wire on a 5′ side, form into a circle, and use the wire spikes on the side to loop around the wire on the other side to secure the circle. Wallah. Raspberry cages for $7 apiece, as seen in the photo above if you look closely. Now we’ll see how many years they last. They are stronger than regular tomato cages but won’t store well.
The old pear tree is special for many reasons. It’s a real pear tree, not an ornamental. I don’t know if it’s a native species since it was here long before I was.
It has wonderful blossoms in the springtime, as can be seen above.
The pears are delicious. The photo above shows their growth as of June 24. I have to share them with Daisy, who adores chomping on pears that have fallen to the ground. They don’t seem to disturb her digestive system, but she does gain weight. Squirrels and birds are also partial to pears. Bluejays in particular. All sorts of critters have invaded the gardens when pears are on the ground. Skunks and groundhogs come to mind. We’ve discouraged them for now. See the post Critters for more details on that.
Most of the fruit in my garden is for immediate use, either by humans or by wildlife, including Daisy. Frozen fruit during the winter might be nice. Jam would be lovely too. My grandmother made pear butter that was a treat. Maybe I will try all the above if I find the time.