The Permanent Collection

Most of the things we grow for food around here are annuals. They spend a few glorious productive months giving up their bounty, then die, and are started anew from seeds the following year. We do have a few things that feed us year after year, like the six blueberry bushes that have been such an important part of our early summer.

Most of the others aren’t having such a great season…

There are three apple trees in the yard; a standard and a dwarf whose varieties are lost to time, and the espallier tree in the kitchen garden with its grafted branches of Fuji, Gala, and Liberty. All totalled, I can see eight apples among the three of them. Bad weather at bloom time means no big haul this year.

Our pear tree is a sad little thing, with a grand crop of three fruits this year…unless there more hiding in the upper reaches, but that’s doubtful.

Part of the problem with this tree and the two older apples, is that they were planted to be Lawn Trees, and their location isn’t very good for fruit production. I’d love to give them some new friends in the back field, but that’s a few years away.

The wild blackberries are starting to ripen. There are lots of them, but they’re small from the lack of rain over the last month or so. I’m so used to these, that I’m always amazed at the size of commercial berries – easily four times as big! The flavor isn’t the best this year, either.

There IS one member of the permanent collection that’s having a banner year! With any luck, we’ll have a few jars of Concord Grape jelly in the cupboard this fall!

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26 thoughts on “The Permanent Collection

  1. I sometimes wonder if it’s not only the weather, but just a natural cycle thing, where there are good years and bad. Our wild strawberries were amazing this year, yet the blackberries are dry and small… Still, those grapes are looking good!

    • The apple tree does have on/off years, but not like this. We had cold, wet rain for two weeks around bloom time, and I don’t think the bees were out. The grapes look good – hope the squirrels will leave me some!

    • Everyone makes it sound like this is worse than we’ve ever seen, but it isn’t. We’re all just hoping it doesn’t last as long as it did in the 1920’s. That period of American History is referred to as the Dust Bowl Days, and it was REALLY bad. This isn’t fun, but it’s survivable.

  2. I love that first photo. And a bumper crop of Concorde grapes is a prize indeed! I have a vine that I planted two years ago. We got five grapes last year and look to be at least doubling that this year. Too hot and dry? Or perhaps they just need time. They are certainly worth the wait.

    • Do you have a Concord vine? Another variety might do better in your conditions…These are all wild, and the breed originated in New England, so they’re acclimated.
      (If it hadn’t been for that first photo, this post never would have happened… 🙂 )

  3. We rarely got to pick grapes from our Concord grape vines in the old house. The birds and their buddies got them the second they ripened. In the Man against Nature battle nature always wins.

    • In a good grape year, the woods smell like Welch’s grape juice for a month. The fruit is mostly at the tops of the trees, so only the birds and squirrels have access. I was glad to spot a few places where I can get them with a ladder!

  4. Picking up on what Cathy writes about good years and bed, I remember hearing a while ago that trees do have cycles of good and bad years – we used to have a per tree in our garden that had definiet mood swings! But frost at bloom time is a certain killer. Such a shame.
    But ooooooo grapes. My vine is rather pathetic, I don’t think it likes where it is on the allotment – it’s too exposed, so maybe I’ll have to find a new home for it, somewhere more sheltered. Whether I get any grapes is an entirely different matter 🙂

    • All of the books I’ve read on Orcharding say that if you manage the number of apples on the tree every year, you break that cycle. I haven’t bothered with these, because they’re not the best anyway. I’m using them to learn before taking the plunge and starting with new trees.

  5. We have good and bad years…certainly the olives don´t deliver the same every year and this year our vine looks like it will do well (if the birds don´t eat them all before we get back!). Love that you have apples – would love to grow some here but need to bring some English varieties back that actually taste of something 🙂

    • I think someone gave these to Hubby as a gift when he moved into the house over 25 years ago. The idea – bad as it was – was to line the driveway with them. I use them for pruning practice, and I’m grateful when they give me a few tasty fruit…

  6. There was a hard frost here and I remember Celi blogging about its impact on her farmy. I’ve not noticed much difference at the farmers markets but it’s too early to know if pears or apples have been hurt. I hope you can get to those grapes. You can never have too much Concord grape jelly.

    • It was buckets and buckets of cold, cold rain at bloom-time here. The orchards that sit higher-up on the island seem to have done ok, but down here in the swamp, it’s pretty bad. I’m just glad we don’t rely on them for sustenence…

  7. I love the clever title! Our lime tree has only three or four limes this year, but that’s better than last year’s zero.

    I’m glad you’re having a good grape year!

  8. I don’t have many apples on my trees either, Marie. As you said, too much rain and wind for the bees to be out during bloom time. Critters always get to my grapes before I do…good luck.

  9. Wow! Look at those grapes! Amazing. Our wild blackberries are doing well this year, in spite of the drought conditions. They’re small, but very tasty. What confuses me about them is that the birds aren’t eating them. Weird.

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