One of the things we were excited about when my wife and I first saw Happy Acres were the three mature blueberry bushes, along with the apple and peach trees. It was like buying a ready made mini fruit farm! Leave it to gardeners to be more excited about what’s outside than they are about the house itself, though the house certainly had its charm as well.
It’s now a few years later, and we know that the apple and peach trees were unpruned and unmanageable giants with fruit too high in the trees to thin or harvest. And two of the three big blueberries bear tiny sized fruit. There was one nice surprise though: a pie cherry tree that is doing great. And it turns out the other blueberry has nice sized, tasty fruit. The others are tasty too – just small.
We set out to supplement the existing fruits pretty soon after we arrived. We added thornless blackberries and more blueberries the first year. In later years we’ve added two peach trees, two more cherries, figs, and a couple of Asian persimmons. And last year we planted two pawpaw trees, which are native to our area..
Last year we also added two currant bushes and two honeyberries. The honeyberry is a form of edible honeysuckle, with dark blue fruits. We planted these in a new sunny bed that was created when had our elm tree cut down. This bed is a mixed planting with rugosa roses (for hips), an Oakleaf Hydrangea, a Viburnum, lavender, and some ornamental grasses. Hopefully this area will give us beauty as well as bounty in the years to come.
This year I have planted red and yellow raspberries. These are fall-bearing varieties (Autumn Bliss, Caroline and Anne) that will hopefully give us one crop later in summer when some of the other fruits are finished bearing. We have some black raspberries in another area that have been bearing for a few years now.
Our goal is to give us a variety of tasty fruits that bear over a long season, as well as to beautify our landscape. And with freezing, drying and other ways of preserving, we can have homegrown fruit all year long.
One fruit that is missing here is the strawberry. I love eating them, but in my opinion growing them is a hassle compared to most other fruits. Its temporary nature, and low growing habit are big strikes against it. I used to grow them for sale, and my back still aches just thinking about that operation. I tried them here for a couple of years, but I decided it truly wasn’t worth it. With a berry farm less than a mile from here, it’s one fruit I will be happy to let someone else grow!