The rain has stopped – for now. In doing my morning walk about I noticed how well the fruit on the property was doing. The blueberry bushes are loaded this year, last year I didn’t get a single berry. It warmed up to abnormal temperatures in February 1012. A week or more of 70’s and 80’s fooled every early flowering plant, tree and shrub into thinking spring had arrived early. The temperature then dropped to below freezing (where it should be that time of year) and froze every blossom on the fruiting trees and shrubs. It also completely messed up our sugaring season. In 2011 we made well over 100 gallons of maple syrup, in 2012 maybe 30. Our pear tree had 3 pears, the deer ate two and my sister picked the last one.
Losing your entire fruit crop is distressing in many ways. You’ve already made plans for what you are going to put up based on previous years and suddenly you realize there will not be any fruit of any kind. This year the pear tree is loaded once again and I’m making plans for what to do with the hundreds that will be available (barring any extreme weather event from now until frost). I often wonder about people who plant 5 or 6 of a kind of fruit tree. This one tree, in a good year, produces enough for a few families to eat fresh and preserve. I find that at times it has really stressed me out because I feel like I’m wasting good food by not putting more up but honestly you can only do so much. The deer eat the drops and the ones hanging from the lower branches. I try to give them away.
I have to say that one of the favorite games for the dogs involves that pear tree. When the fruit starts to drop onto the ground we go down to the tree and I toss the pears as far as I can in rapid succession in different directions. Buddy will chase a couple, then settle down to eat one. Sophie will run after one, tag it and run back. Chester will fetch them all day long, every so often taking a bite out of it but always bringing it back and dropping it at my feet. The only problem is he likes the game so much that he continually goes out in the field and brings pears up to the driveway and the lawn. A lot of fun when you’re mowing the grass.
Fruit is always a long term endeavor. I planted a row of raspberry plants that Carmen had given me last year. I got a couple of berries in July (I probably would have picked more but caught Chester picking them, apparently he finds them tasty as well). This year the patch is twice as large – raspberries propagate readily sending shoots up all over the place once the plants get going. I will probably have enough berries for a couple of pies and maybe a small batch of jam. I transplanted more canes this spring doubling the number I had. I’m looking forward to a crop large enough to put up for the winter. Now that I can see the potential for this patch of fruit I’m happy that I did it.
Growing these types of long term crops can be a difficult decision to make. You always have to create a new bed for them and put it in a place that you know will be dedicated to that fruit. Trees are the same way and even longer term considering how slowly they grow and the years it can take before they bear fruit. Once that tree is planted it has to stay there, that’s a commitment. I planted a bed of asparagus this year at the end of my vegetable garden knowing full well that it will effect how I till for years to come. I will not be able to eat anything from this bed for another two years but once it’s going I could potentially have a healthy asparagus crop for another thirty. I’ll take that and leave it to my kids.