There's instant gratification, regular gratification, delayed gratification, and then there's farming.
I'm not complaining. The slow, vegetable process has been fun so far. Harvest –– even a scant handful of this and that –– feels like a bonus.
As with so many things on this Would-Be Farm, we are learning about the timing of the seasons. Last October, for instance, when we got to the farm, we'd already missed the apple season. The fruit didn't go to waste, of course, as the deer and birds enjoyed the bounty as they have done for some decades.
But in 2015, apples were ripe on the trees and we were there to see it.
A late frost in the spring nipped the buds on about half of the 80 old trees. The rehabilitation of the two old groves is a bit less than halfway there: an unimaginable mess of twisted and crossed limbs remain to be trimmed, along with shade-trees and burdocks and juniper bushes, and it's hard to say whether the soil amendments (fertilizer! minerals!) are making a difference. And we haven't sprayed anything, so the apples were small and dented.
I am making excuses, but those little apples were tasty!
I catalogued three kinds: a yellow apple with crisp, cream-colored flesh; a Cortland-type with red skin and very white flesh, and a red and yellow number that has a complicated, perfumed flavor. Which means I can't really say what KIND of trees we have in the old groves, but... it's a start.
Nearly all of the baby fruit trees we planted in the spring survived their first summer. One pear tree didn't make it, and one of the Honeycrisps looks a little shaky. Both aronia bushes took off nicely.
Surprisingly, the whippy little hazelbert bushes actually produced nuts after just six months in the ground. They were sticks with the odd catkin in April, and by September, they not only had leafed out, but produced nuts that were sweet and juicy, with the promise of heavier harvests in the rather near future.Yay hazelberts!
Big bonus this year: berries.
The Would-Be Farm is widely colonized by brambles, and we don't hesitate to weed-whack them, drive over them with the truck, or smush them by foot. Turns out the rakes are about 80% red raspberries and 20% the tougher, thornier blackberries. And as the first leaves were turning color, we had a nearly limitless supply of juicy berries.
Nearly limitless, because honestly, how long is a person willing to infiltrate the brambles and persuade the bees to buzz along? Even in the interest of eating handfuls of sweet, sun-warmed berries...
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