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Barbara Pleasant: Fun With Fruits

 

If you want to grow great-tasting food year after year, you can’t beat the return you get with tree fruits and berries.  We steward several wild berries provided by Mother Nature, plus an admirable collection of apples, pears, and other goodies (see list below).

All of our fruits are organically grown. I use a milk spray to suppress brown rot in the plums and grapes, but mostly we depend on pruning and thinning to keep the tree fruits healthy. The trees were planted about 15 years ago by Roger’s former wife, Catherine, and she did a wonderful job choosing disease-resistant varieties that ripen at different times. Her main source for plants, Edible Landscaping, is only a two hour drive from here.

The best fruits on the place are probably the blueberries and the Asian pears. We pick blueberries for a half hour each day all through the month of July, ultimately filling up a shelf in the freezer. The Asian pears are great fresh, and even better dried in the dehydrator. Lots of apples get dried, too! In very good fruit years, we stock the basement with sulfite-free homemade fruit wines.

Growing fruits is great fun, and every year is different. It’s impossible to thin the fruits on our two big standard trees, the Williams Pride apple and the Potomac pear, so they are prone to skipping seasons when they need a break. Fair enough! The blueberries and brambles always make a crop, so we still have fruit in seasons when the trees produce poorly.

What We Grow


Apples -- Williams Pride (ripens end of July), Enterprise (ripens early September) and Liberty (ripens early October)

 

Asian Pears - Two, probably Hosui (early, ripens in August) and Korean Giant, also known as Olympic (late, ripens in October)

 

Blackberries - Selected wild stands, semi-cultivated

 

Blueberries -- Seven mature bushes, early and late Northern highbush, varieties unknown

 

Grapes - Concord

 

Pear - Potomac, a D'anjou-Bartlett cross, ripens in September

 

Plum - Stanley, a purple prune plum

 

Raspberries -- Wild black raspberries (semi-cultivated), Heritage fall-bearing red raspberries, and a feral spring-bearing red raspberry I brought from Pisgah.

 

Is rhubarb a fruit?