Saturday, May 28, 2011

Fruit, Seedlings

We ate an abundance of strawberries on our breakfast this morning! It's been over a week now that I've been harvesting. Before we left for VA last Friday, I picked three. On Monday I cut the senior just-ripened one in thirds. "Yum!" said my son with gratifying enthusiasm. "Yum!" responded his wife and son when I fed them theirs, not to be outdone in appreciation for a third of one strawberry.

I've had MUCH more abundant crops since I began mulching them each winter with straw. That English name, centuries old by now, is well chosen. Since suburban people began putting straw on the curb after Halloween, it's easy to get straw in Montclair.

Then there is the goal of preserving the strawberries for human consumption. I'm a speciesist when it comes to my garden. I've discovered that if I pick them when they first turn a rosy color and put them on my kitchen counter, they taste much better than anything in the stores within a day or three. And humans get to eat them!

My red delicious apple tree has a surfeit of baby apples. The late John Lohman, who once had a tree farm at 222 Grove Street, Montclair, told me that if you don't thin apples and pears to 6" when they are small, the tree will rebel and not bear any the following year. I've found this to be true, and explains why some people think apple trees bear only every other year. So I conscientiously edited my red delicious tree this spring.

I thought the Macintosh was taking its year off, but then I discovered some on the opposite wide from its colleague -- the north side! My Bartlett pears have not been nearly as prolific since the tree was struck by lightning, but it is still setting forth some every year.

Does anyone know if similar thinning is need for peach trees? If so, I'd better get to it! After years of mildew, I used copper spray several times this year. Wow, do I have promising peaches! How many dare I hope to harvest? Advice welcome on thinning. (Last year I checked with both the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Organic Consumers' Association and they both said copper spray is organic.)

The raspberries are "setting" and look like they will come about as the strawberries end. It's nice to eat fruit from one's yard, but it's a lot more work than vegetables (except raspberries).

The growth this year is unprecedented, but I hope soon to plant the entire garden and show that lawn where it belongs. A neighbor has brought me wonderful grass clippings that facilitate this.

Yesterday I gave up on enough eggplant and pepper seeds germinating (after 3 months of waiting!) and went to Bartlett's and bought some seedlings. Mr. Bartlett told me that with this warm weather, they will begin. This morning I had three new tiny pepper seedlings and four new eggplants! It's about time, but...

Life is endlessly surprising, and somewhat humiliating too. However, those strawberries, peas, and lettuce are delicious!


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