My Photos

soilent_greenJune 24, 2012

Here are some new pics of mine for you to peruse if you are so inclined. I am considering just adding to this thread as I take more pictures, so check back occasionally.

Feel free to click on any pic to see larger version, but please note that you will be redirected to my flickr photo page. I do this to reduce load times for folks with slower internet connections. :)

North Star Pie Cherries:

Black Raspberries:

Red Currants, Unknown Variety:

16 foot square Kitchen/Spring Garden
(Bunny-proofed with chicken wire.):

Papaver somniferum Poppy (Originally seeded
on site by my grandmother many years ago - my
mother remembers seeing them in the flower garden
as a child.):

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Very nice picts.

Are all of those from this years fruit? My Northstar only has a few cherries but they are about 2 weeks from being ripe as are my blueberries and raspberries.

Big ripening time differances in our state !

    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 11:08PM
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Thanks for posting, northernmn.

Yes all are from this year, photos were taken over the last three days. I am very surprised I got any cherries at all because the trees bloomed very early and I saw very little pollinator insect activity during the bloom period, plus we had some late hard frosts. My Meteor and Montmorency cherry trees failed to produce but I got a nice batch from my little North Star tree that was planted 5 or so years ago. Birds ruined about a third of the crop - forgot to net the tree. Oh well.

Apricot, plum, pear, and most of my apple varieties failed. The good thing is I do not have to harvest and process any of them this year. Got to find the good in the bad...

My currants are all picked now, I harvested approximately 2 gallons of berries. Black raspberries have peaked but there will still be some to pick yet. I have around 2 gallons of them so far as well and around a gallon of reds. The reds have a much better late crop come late July/early August.

As far as the ripening differences in our state, yes the differences are quite interesting but this is such a goofy growing year with the early mild spring weather that occurred that I do not think proper comparisons can be made. For example: I planted onions and potatoes in March! I have never been able to that before and will probably never be able to do it again.

I am jealous of your blueberries. ;) Do you get a little harvesting competition from the black bears? I have tried several times in my life to get them to grow here but failed each time, and gave up. We simply do not have the proper soil here, and amending it does not work.

I have been camping several times in the BWCAW during blueberry season - the patches of wild blueberries are a treasure to behold. What an incredible treat.

Mulberries are starting to ripen so they will be the next harvest on the agenda. Concord grapes are developing nicely. Peas harvest is just starting to peak. I have lost track of how much I have harvested so far but I am hoping for a harvest total of around 3-4 gallons of shelled peas. Onions are bulbing nicely - should be my best crop in years. Shallots and multipliers look fantastic. Cucumbers are starting to vine and I will have to start training them up the fence. Pole beans are vining and bush snap beans are starting to bloom...

I hope everyone's gardens are doing well.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2012 at 12:07AM
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Soilent, question for you. (I think it was you that I got the nanking cherry from at the spring swap...)

I have two mature (4 year old) Nanking's plus the one I planted from the swap.

The mature cherries were loaded with blossoms this spring, but I only have maybe a cup or two of fruit coming on the two bushes combined. Any ideas why theseare notproducing s well as they should and/or what I can do to increase the yield?


I am envious of your bounty! I wish I had more sunny area to grow more edibles.

Thanks for sharing the pics!


    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 9:24PM
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Hi Linda, nice to hear from you. Hope everything is going well with you.

Remember that cold, rainy April we had? That is most likely the reason you did not get a Nanking harvest. I did not get one either.

The biggest problem with Nankings is that they bloom so early, and if the weather is cold and wet during blooming (as is often the case) then the pollinating insects will not be out to do their thing. Getting a good harvest of Nanking cherries is a crapshoot - I average one bumper harvest and one average harvest every five to six years. The rest of the harvests range from mediocre to nonexistent. My apricots face the exact same circumstances.

I can tell what the harvest will be like by simply observing the weather while the bushes are blooming, and by going out and observing how many insects are buzzing around the flowers. I already knew back in April that there was going to be a bad harvest this year.

I have not found any solution other than hand-pollinating. Hand pollinating is rather simple and investing an hour or two doing it during the bad years might allow you to get a decent crop every year. You could certainly do that with your two bushes and be successful, but I have 16 bushes and it is not practical for me. I suppose I could hand pollinate a couple bushes myself but I guess it just has not been that important for me to do it.

Once again we are pretty much at the mercy of our fickle Minnesota spring weather. I resigned myself to getting occasional harvests and I think I appreciate them more that way. They do make excellent jelly, juice, pancake syrup, and wine.

Sorry I could not be of more help.

P.S. Rabbits love Nanking cherry bushes. They will debark the branches during winter when the snow covers other food sources. If you have rabbit issues you should be protecting the bushes with chicken wire or something during the winter season. The rabbits' chewing will not kill the bushes as they will sprout new growth, but it will kill the mature berry producing branches forcing you to have to wait years until the new shoots mature. If you have rabbits around and they have not yet damaged your unprotected bushes, you have been lucky and it is just a matter of time before it happens. Guaranteed.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 12:15AM
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Thanks for the info. I think I'll just go the "crap shoot" route as well! Hand pollinating doesn't really appeal to me.

We don't really have many rabbits, but there are a few. I will take you advice and protect them starting this winter.



    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 8:15PM
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SG, love you pictures. can you tell me what you do with the currants? We have one bush that's overflowed with more currants than we know what to do with. We usually eat 1/4 and the rest pretty much go to the birds. Would love to hear ideas. We eat them fresh for now. We also have gooseberries that we don't know what to do with either. My dog does like the green gooseberries.

One other thing, how long did it take your mulberries to produce enough that's worth while? Right now, we have about 2 handfuls and this is the 3rd year. They seem to bloom more, but they either didn't fruit or the birds got to them!

    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 10:43PM
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Hi icekream,

Regarding currants: If you have enough, try baking a currant pie. It is quite the flavor experience, albeit seedy. I learned not to chew a piece of currant pie - I put a piece in my mouth and squish the berries with my tongue pressed against the roof of my mouth. That way I am not picking seeds out of my teeth afterwards.

I also like using the Jell-O No Bake Homestyle Cheesecake dessert kit to make a cheesecake pie with currants on top - I am a sucker for cheesecake and this is a quick route to a yummy pie.

Most of my berries are harvested and frozen so that I can make preserves when I have time and the temps cool down. I use a Juicer/Steamer like this one. IMHO these things are the best invention since the pressure canner - I use it a lot. Works great for juicing berries for making jellies, syrups, breakfast juices, etc. If you do canning and make home preserves, I would harvest those currants and gooseberries, and any other berries, and juice them and make jellies or whatever.

If in doubt about what to do, why not harvest them and freeze them for now - maybe you could even offer them to someone else in return for a jar of jelly or something. I know I would not hesitate to make a deal like that to get more berries, I am sure others would too. :)

Regarding gooseberries: Everything you can do with currants you can do with gooseberries.

Regarding mulberries: My trees came up on their own, so I do not know their ages but I think they have been around for at least a fifteen years and are in full production. I would think you could get a small harvest on a five year old tree. They grow so quickly, but they need to fill out to make more berry producing branches.

I have been harvesting from those trees for quite a few years now. It is always a fight with the birds to get a decent harvest (I just love all the purple gifts that the birds leave everywhere after gorging themselves on the berries). Anyway, I remember as a kid we would lay blankets down around the tree and I would climb up the tree and shake the branches. We would then remove the leaf and branch litter from the blankets, lift them up, and pour the berries into the containers. Mom would make us stop after we collected gallons and gallons of these berries - she was the one who had to process all those berries and I think we had too much fun harvesting at her expense. I still harvest them in a similar fashion but I use a pole with a hook to shake the branches now. I also still make the traditional mulberry pancakes that mother would make for us as a reward for our help.

Mulberry harvest is not that great this year. I do not know that much about mulberry trees so I do not know if something may have happened to the blossoms this year or if production cycles up and down or what happened. I just know that there are off years occasionally.

LMK what you end up doing.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 1:36AM
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This is the 1st year (that I know of) that a black bear has showed up up at my fruit patch. I was working in the garden when he came by. He caught my scent but couldn't tell exactly where it was coming from. He actually ran angling toward me for a bit until he got on one of my walking trails then he followed that back to the edge of the woods.
My guess is he will be back when the berries start ripening in mass. I had already install fencing around the fruit patch to keep out deer and rabbits. The bottom 4ft is chicken wire and above that is a series of polyester tape up to 7 ft. This, of coarse, is not bear proof. Now, because of the bear, I'm in the process of putting electric fence wire on the outside of the deer/rabbit fencing.

I also have to net or cage my blueberries to have any survive the bird thieving. Catbirds, Brown Thrashers, and Robins are the worst. This fruit protection program is getting more complicated than the witness protection programs of the Secret Service.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2012 at 3:46PM
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SG - Thank you for all your comments and suggestions. It's still not too late for me to harvest the berries yet (actually, gooseberries just started ripening and I have to fight with my yellow lab for them! Hoping to wait until this weekend when it cools down. Whoeee...

    Bookmark   July 3, 2012 at 12:41PM
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