Well, my Fig tree has one Fig on it. It’s a start! And everyone has to start somewhere, even a tiny Fig tree that in about 15 year time will dominate the garden (that’s the plan). But I’ll take one Fig. I fretted over whether to pick it (as you do when there is but one). And I observed it as it started to move from horizontal to the tree to more curved over like it was loaded with juice. Then yesterday I touched it to give it a squeeze and it came off in my hand. Now if ever there was a sign that it’s ready…
It tasted very fragrant, like the best fig flavour you can think of. But… it wasn’t very juicy. Almost dry. Maybe I let it go too long. Anyone have any nuggets of advice on Figs?
I planted a Medlar tree last Spring. I don’t know why but the moment I first saw a Medlar I knew that I would have to plant one at some time. And the minute I had the space to do it, I did.
I first saw one at The Courts Garden, a National Trust property near Bath that I visited a lot when I lived in the UK. The tree wasn’t very big – I’m estimating around 12 foot high but it was perfectly proportioned. It bloomed with white flowers in the Spring and dangled with brown jewel-like fruit in Autumn.
I never dared to touch the fruit (someone might see me!) and so I didn’t know what a Medlar tasted like. I had heard that it was one of the oldest fruits that we still cultivate and that it had been popular in Medieval times.
The fruits aren’t that big, say the size of a small Tomato, and they hold onto the tree way past leaf fall and into the Winter. Infact, the softer the fruit the better they taste. They need to be bletted or rotted before they are soft enough to eat. Before that they are just like hard crab Apples, ie. bitter and yuk!
My Medlar has done surprisingly well. It has coped with both my clay, waterlogged soil and near drought conditions in the summer! It also had some lovely orange leaves in the Autumn.
Now there are six fruits on my tree. I’m surprised since I only planted it last year. I could see that they were ready because they were drooping down and when I squeezed them they were soft and bouncy.
So here they are. And it’s time to taste my first one! The taste is interesting. It’s like stewed Apple but fresher and with more caramel. I like it! There are stones in there so you have to avoid them. And the flesh is so soft that you really have to eat it with a spoon. And… there isn’t much of it. But… my curiosity is filled. I now have my very own piece of history, growing in my garden.
Good question! You need a long, hot summer and a good location to grow Watermelon but if you’re lucky enough to have that then you may be able to grow Watermelon. The question is, when do you pick? Because after all that hard work you don’t want to spoil it all by picking too late or indeed too early.
But don’t worry there are signs that will tell you when is the right time.
The first sign to look for is the nearest tendril to the fruit. It will be curled and, if the Watermelon is ripe, it will brown and shrivelled. The one in the photo is not, so this Watermelon is not yet ready.
Next look for a small cup-shaped leaf near to the fruit called the ‘spoon’ leaf. It’s about the size of a teaspoon and different from the other leaves. If this leaf is brown and shrivelled or has even fallen off then this is another sign that the Watermelon is ready.
Lastly, inspect the underside of the Watermelon. Is there a white patch, or lighter patch on the Watermelon. If so then this could be a sign that it’s not ready. Ripe Watermelons should be a nice deep green colour all over.
So there you go. If all the signs are there, harvest now, before the weather gets any worse.
We went on our first Raspberry picking trip this weekend. We drove to a farm on Sauvie Island and found a sweet little place with Raspberries, Blueberries, Strawberries and cutting flowers available. It was family-run with mum and grandma weighing out the fruit under make-shift tents and people tripping off into the distance with cardboard flats and coming back laden with fruit – too much fruit in many cases but that’s what you do at fruit farms right?
It was a hot day and our children were never going to make it all the way to the Strawberry patch so we stopped at the first row of Raspberries we came to. Predictably, the row had no ripe fruit in the first 20 paces or so but further in where fewer human hands had been the fruit dripped off the canes and we started filling our cases. The children loved it. They ran up and down picking (and eating, of course) like they had never had Raspberries before. Jackson took to sitting in the cart in the shade and eating directly out of the box as I picked them – well it’s much easier that way, he figured out.
I loved our fruit-picking time. It was like stepping back in time to a ‘me’ in the thirties or forties. I imagined that I lived down the lane in my tumble-down cottage and this was my nearest farm where I collected my fruit. In my mind I was also dressed in a tea dress and heels with urchin, shoeless children and probably a husband in an army uniform somewhere. That didn’t happen. But it probably should.
My first Strawberry harvest of the season! They are a variety called Hood, local here in Oregon. Some people refuse to eat Strawberries until the first Hoods come into season and now I understand why. Wow! they taste amazing. It’s nothing to do with my growing technique just a good variety at home in the Portland climate.
I’ve always wanted to grow a Fig tree, I’ve just never had the room. I used to work in an office where there was a beautiful and quite large Fig tree outside the window. It was covered in Figs come late Summer but no-one ever picked them. It was so sad.
So here is my opportunity to put things right and grow my own Fig tree. I planted it on a south facing wall in a protected corner of the garden. As per RHS Fig planting instructions I prepared a pit and put stone slabs on all sides to contain the root system. Then I put rubble and broken bricks on the bottom too. It seems a bit harsh but apparently it helps the tree fruit better.
All I know is that, if and when my Fig tree produces fruit I will definitely be picking the fruit and none will be left on the tree!
I’ve actually planted something. I dare not plant anything in the main garden yet as there are too many hob-nailed boots around. But there is a small patch of earth just outside the gate that seemed like a safe place to put some lovely, evergreen Blueberries.
Every single Blueberry I’ve grown in the past has been deciduous. The leaves turned a beautiful flame colour in the Autumn but then dropped and sprouted again in early Spring. This was lovely and no doubt I’ll plant more of this kind in the wider garden. If I can, I’ll always plant something edible rather than just decorative and evergreen Blueberries seemed the ideal plant to keep this spot interesting throughout the whole year.
This variety is called Sunshine Blue. It’s a mid-season variety with pink flowers and can grow to about four foot.
Now that I live in Portland I felt it was time to get to know my local Apples better. I know the names of British Apples quite well, Ashmead’s Kernel, Beauty of Bath, Blenheim Orange. They all have lovely traditional names. But when it comes to Apple varieties here in the Pacific Northwest I’m a beginner.
I’d love to turn part of my new garden into a mini-orchard. In reality that probably won’t materialise for about a year but that gives me plenty of time to research and prepare the ground for planting next Autumn. So when I saw that my local nursery was holding an Apple Tasting event I had to be there. For research purposes you undersand!
I’ve had most success with fruit when I’ve grown what has evolved locally. By that I mean that the variety has been perfected for my local climate and may have even originated there. When I lived in Bath, UK I grew an Apple variety called Queen Cox that was perfectly suited to the wet weather there. It blossomed and we dined on Apple Crumble all Autumn. So I’m planning to do the same here and grow what the local farms produce.
I sampled a lot of apples! To be honest by the end of it I couldn’t discern the sweet from the tart. But there were a couple of varieties that stood out for me and I’ll be trying to incorporate them into my orchard plan.
Ashmead’s Kernal – the old favourite reins. Good all rounder for eating, baking and keeping
Brock – sweet and tart and good for eating and baking
Buckeye Gala (red) – great tasting eating Apple
Cameo – Super sweet eating Apple
Cortland – Tart and great for baking
Elstar – for its taste and amazing colour, good for baking
Honey Crisp – Sweet eating Apple and a good keeper
King David – Sweet and tart and good for baking
McIntosh – sweet, good for eating, baking and keeping
Rubinette – Great for Apple sauce
Spitzenberg – Sweet and tart and can be used for drying
Swiss Gourmet – A sweet eating Apple
Starkinson – for its sweet tast and amazing bright red colour
20th Century – this had a really interesting almost flowery taste.
About a week ago I discovered an Apple tree hidden in the garden. There was a huge overgrown climbing Rose next to it and I’d missed the Apples that were up high until recently. After cutting down the rose, I could get to the Apples. I’m pretty sure that the Apples are an eating variety but they do taste a little sharp. I asked the previous owner what variety the Apples were but she couldn’t even remember planting it. So I’m still none the wiser. If anyone can name the variety, please let me know.
The Apple tree is planted right next to a Crab Apple tree. Infact, it’s so close that it looks like they were planted in the same hole. Sometimes people to do this to ensure good pollination but it’s a bit messy for my ‘neat freak’ tastes. There is another Crab Apple in the garden in a different location so I might try to remove the one that’s close to the Apple later on.
While I was harvesting the Apples a woman came over who works in a building opposite. She said she had seen me in the garden and was itching to come and talk to me about what I was going to do with the garden. She said she had looked at the garden for many years and felt sad that no-one was looking after it. Then a whirlwind of activity started and things began to happen. She was a fruit grower too and she suggested growing Asian Pears as apparently they do very well in Oregon. And she also suggested that I buy some seed from The Territorial Seed Company. She said they are a nice family-owned business. So I’ll be checking them out. Nothing like a recommendation to spur me on to buy seed!
I just love the way that gardening brings people together. I actually prefer being in my front garden than the back garden right now because every time I’m out there someone will stop and talk to me. And I always learn something, be it a tip on how to look after something or just a name to a nameless plant.
My Tayberries are fruiting and they are literally covered in fruit that is plump, juicy and tastes amazing. I’d like to say that they are really difficult to grow and ‘it’s been a struggle but worth it in the end.’ But really, I haven’t lifted a finger. I haven’t fed them, or watered them at all. They grow in a pot that is frankly too small. I did prune them, last summer after they fruited but that’s it.
boring talking to my husband about this last night. Soft fruit really is the gift that keeps giving. My Red Currants, Black Currants, Strawberries, Blackberries, Raspberries, Tayberries, Blueberries and now Pineberries take up little of my time, yet when they fruit they do so spectacularly.
I’d say the Raspberries are the easiest of a very easy bunch. I think I could cut them down with a flame-thrower and they’d still grow back in Spring and fruit prolifically in July. There’s no stopping them.
If I really were growing fruit and vegetables to feed my family I’d fill my garden with soft fruit, Potatoes and Lettuce (hmmm maybe Rhubarb and Seakale too) and sit back and watch everything grow. Maybe my diet would be a little strange but honestly, I’m getting sick of putting in all that effort for a handful of Tomatoes (and that’s in a dry year!).