Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Other edible fruit and plants

Gooseberries are my kids favorites and what other fruit is available in May and June? They are sour, but this native fruit is great in pies or just as a snack when we are out hiking.

That is a happy smile. My daughter loves gooseberries.

Another Missouri native is the Persimmon. A beautiful tree and a prolific producer of fruit. The fruit is not ready to eat until late fall, usually after frosts have begun. If you eat them too early, they will make your mouth pucker. We have used them in jam or eaten fresh.

A good harvest from a single tree.

In the late fall all the leaves have fallen and only the fruit remains.

I think the prettiest flower I have ever seen is the Passion Flower. It has so many layers of depth it almost looks artificial. This is a Missouri native vine that can be aggressive, but who cares if this beautiful flower is everywhere? To control it's spread, I do plant it along fence rows where I mow on both sides because it will sucker up 10' from the original plant. If you plant it on a garden fence or near a landscape bed, it can be a nuisance weed.

Here the fruit is developing. When it turns yellow you can peel it and suck the juice out of the inside. I am not sure what the relationship is to the passion fruit drinks you can get on tropical islands, but the taste is very similar. Kind of citrus, and very sweet.

Our native Redbud is a beautiful small tree with pretty heart shaped leaves and pink flowers in the spring. It does well in shade or sun and is very tough and adaptable to various soils.

The flowers are great to eat on salads or freshly grazed from the tree. The seed pods, when they are young and tender, can be eaten like snap peas or cooked with salt and butter.

Spring berries and fruit trees

This has been a great spring for us. Most of our fruit trees are still young, but our berry bushes are producing very well. The following are some photos and comments on what is doing well and tidbits of what we have learned. We have had a lot of Japanese Beatles this year. I am trying to figure out a natural method of destroying the little devils other than physically removing and squishing them. Any ideas are welcome in the comments.

Sour bush cherries have beautiful spring flowers and produce lots of small, sour, red fruit that is well suited for pies or fresh eating if you don't mind the sour taste. So far this is doing well (3rd season) without any spraying and has been disease and insect free. Japanese Beatles don't seem to fancy them over the grapes, fruit trees or blackberries.

This is the first year our bush cherries have produced (3rd season in the ground). The fruit is small and sour, but seems disease and insect free thus far.

Our small developing nursery (inside our dog fence). This year (2010) we have some peaches, nectarines, and crabapples developing fruit.

Our grapes (mostly Concord) are doing well. They have all reached the top 6' wire and I am starting to train them and trimming (in Nov.) lower growth off. It is important to get them off the ground so that they have good air movement to discourage fungal disease.

Early spring with grapes and blackberries leafing out. Spring greens have been planted in the hoop house, but there is no need for shade clothe until mid-May when it gets hot.

Grape leaves healthy as can be before the Japanese Beatles start eating them.

Fruit starting to develop on the grape vines. Concords seem to be the most disease variety for mid-Missouri. We also have some seedless varieties, but they don't seem to be very vigorous or productive yet.

Blueberries in early spring.

There is nothing finer or prettier than blueberries. No house or garden should be without them. They are easy and productive if you have a little patience. They are disease and insect resistant, are beautiful plants and the fruit is super healthy. I often recommend to friends that all gardens should have blueberries, blackberries and strawberries. All are very hardy, productive and healthy for eating.

Blueberry flowers are a beautiful dainty white.

Developing fruit in May.

Fruit starting to turn blue. I can hardly wait.

Early spring strawberry flowers.

Strawberries are outstanding. They grow like weeds, but are a beautiful groundcover for any sunny area. They can take shade, but do not produce as well. I have tried many different varieties, but I would stay away from "ever-bearing" types as they bear very little and so it is difficult to process them as they fruit at different times and produce very little. It is nice to have a huge harvest for 3 weeks that we can pick, clean and freeze. Try to keep your beds less than 3' wide as it is hard to pick the berries on the inside without stepping on the outside plants to get to the inner berries.

These beds are a little wide and the edges need to be trimmed. The outer plants can be given away to friends.

Fruit staring to develop.

Beautiful ripe fruit.

Quite a harvest. We wash, cut off the bad parts and freeze the berries on baking sheets. After they freeze individually on sheets, we put them in freezer zip-locks until we can use them in smoothies or jam.

A perfect fruit.

Apples in bloom are beautiful. I am still experimenting to see what varieties I like best.

A beautiful apple blossom.