The Plot in May - Fruits

Fruit trees and bushes are a long-term investment. I probably won't get fruit from an apple or pear tree until three or more years after planting. Often people ask me why I bother - we rent and what if we aren't even in the area in 3 to 5 years when the fruit finally shows up? Life can be unexpected, but I figure that either I'll be glad I planted in three years, or I can be happy for the next gardener to tend my plot.

Belmont Victory Gardens doesn't have a "no trees" rule yet, but we try to enforce the "don't be a jerk and plant something that will shade or invade your neighbor's plot" rule. Now that I'm "on the board", I need to set a good example! For this reason I purchased trees on dwarf and semi-dwarf rootstock and have been pruning aggressively. I've also tried to choose locations that will mostly shade parts of my plot or the path, rather than my neighbor's plots.

This year I planted a "Williams Pride" apple tree, a Nova pear, two "Pink Champagne" currants, an elderberry, and 5 Joan J. thornless raspberry plants.

the apple tree before aggressive pruning, still with packing paper clinging to it:

Below: the same tree after pruning and leafed out, though I may decide to prune it even lower. I'm using this article from Mother Earth News as a inspiration. You can also see the currants in the wire cages under the apple tree, some strawberries, and a veritable hedge of chives.

The pear tree arrived much too tall for my purposes, so following the same method, I chopped it off at about 3 ft, leaving just a stick. (the green circle is the pear, the pink are raspberries)

For a few weeks I worried that I had just killed a perfectly good tree, but now things are budding out nicely and I can choose which branches I want to keep. I may espalier this one.

The apricot tree I planted last year had two tiny blossoms but I doubt I will see any fruit for a few more years, and there were no blossoms on the two "Carmine Jewel" sour cherry bushes.

As for berries, the two "Chester" thornless blackberries (center and right) made it through the winter really well and will probably give me a nice spring crop. On the other hand, my remaining "Prime Ark Freedom" (left) froze back hard again and may be fully dead. That variety had nice fruit and is going gangbusters for my in-laws in Georgia, but might not be hardy enough for my location (a cold 6b).

I didn't plan on strawberries this year, but a friend was giving them away - and I love free stuff. The plants are putting out a ton of fruit, we'll see how my new fence holds off the voles once they start to ripen.