This is very late, I have been sick, nothing serious but it meant I didn’t feel my sparkling self and up to writing a post.
Last month in this meme I wrote about the greenhouse and tomatoes, this month I’ll concentrate on the various fruits I grow and what I do with them.
First the failures: I planted a large apricot tree (it cost €150) in the spring of our second year here; the first year because the tree had been in a protected position in the nursery while it was in flower, it had some fruit. Since then there has always been a frost or a very cold wind just as it was flowering and setting fruit and so no fruit! I showed images in spring of this year of the flowers turning brown and I knew then there was little chance of any apricots this year. The options are to try moving the tree, it is probably too large to do this so I will probably buy another tree (a sapling this time) and plant it in the area that is protected from the north and northeast winds that I have been preparing and hope for better things to come.
The other tree hit by the late cold wind was a plum, this tree was already in the garden is probably a wild form, the fruits are always small but usually there are lots and they taste good, this year nothing. I have tried to grow currants, red and black with no success at all. There is just not enough water for the blackcurrant and though it doesn’t die it only produces a small handful of currants, not enough even for a summer pudding.
The redcurrant has grown amazingly this year but again with very few fruit I have taken the view that I should grow what is correct for my conditions and not fight nature by trying to grow things that I grew and loved in England. This week the currants have been removed and will be given to a friend who lives much higher where it is cooler and she has a better water supply.
Blackberries on the other hand grow very well but the variety I’ve planted are strange. The fruit ripens from the tip back and the black tempting parts are eaten by the birds before the whole berry is ripe, however worse than this is the fact that they aren’t actually very nice blackberries, not sweet and lacking in flower, again I made the decision to remove them and will try to get cuttings from a friends plant that I know is delicious. There is no point spending time and effort and vitally expensive water resources on plants food or ornamental that don’t give satisfaction.
There are 2 walnut trees, planted in the back border; these are what remain of the 6 or 7 walnut trees that were here when we bought the property. They have always been diseased and produce very few healthy nuts, I should probably remove these too but they give shade to the back border and provide privacy. It would be nice if they were something prettier – they don’t give autumn colour, have already lost almost all their leaves and I know they put out a chemical into the soil that inhibits growth in other plants.
But it is not all gloom and doom in My Hesperides Garden. The quince has produced masses of fruit this year. The quince was the ‘golden apple of the garden of the Hesperides that Hercules had to collect as his 11thlabour so it is fitting that these grow well in the garden. The blossom is lovely is spring and the fruits glow yellow as they ripen.
I have made two kinds of jelly one sweet and the other picante with the addition of chillies to the pan while the fruit was cooking – I serve this Italian style with cheese. The rest I cooked and have frozen to eat as stewed fruit during the winter. I love the perfumed flavour of quince and I’ll try it in pies and crumbles this year.
I love pomegranate juice, especially when I have a cold, the tree hasn’t produced as much fruit as last year but enough, I’ve also been told that pomegranate jelly is delicious so I must look that up and try it.
I’ve spoken about the raspberries on numerous occasions, the crop was large, I tried to eat some fresh every day I harvested them and then froze the rest to make jam, coulee, ice-cream and crumbles throughout the winter months. The autumn fruiting plants didn’t do as well as last year but I think this was the fault of my pruning, they all fruited together and for such a long time I’m not complaining. One perfect fruit was even picked yesterday.
In England I lived near a ‘pick your own’ so never bothered with strawberries, it was easier and not expensive to just go to pick when the fancy took me. Here the season for strawberries to be in the shops is very short and ‘pick your own’ doesn’t exist, so in March I decided to buy some plants which promised fruit over an extended period. I didn’t really expect too much in their first year but I was pleasantly surprised. The initial crop which presumably should be the main crop was sparse, but as the summer continued there was hardly a day when there wasn’t a small bowl to enjoy, and for my birthday in September there was enough for a party of 25 (just a small serving each); runners have rooted all around and they have fruited too; certainly I need to do some organising but they have paid for themselves many times over in their first year.
Figs were good, although I felt the birds had more than their share, but I had enough. I love figs so I’m thinking of growing other varieties to extend the picking season. This is greedy as they fruit twice a year!
Due to the cold winter last year the crab apple flowered and fruited very well. I enjoy seeing the bright fruits in the garden during the winter too much to harvest them for jelly. A second tree that has yellow fruits seems to drop them very quickly so if I have a crop next year I may harvest these to make crab apple jelly (not something my Italian friends have heard of.
I’m a bit undecided about the melons I grew – I love growing them because I can (nearly impossible in the UK without lots of work); and most tasted good although I’m not sure that the shop bought ones weren’t sweeter, they took quite a lot of space and needed masses of water; those I grew in the greenhouse contracted a mouldy growth in their leaves quite early on although they continued to produce ripe fruit with hardly any leaves as I removed the diseased leaves so the mould wouldn’t spread to the tomatoes.
I probably will grow them again as then I don’t have to go to The lemons and limes I bought in spring have provided most of what I needed. They don’t like the westerly hot wind during the summer and will be better when they can be in much larger pots. Now the weather has cooled and the wind dropped there are lots more fruit that I am hopeful will ripen during the winter in the greenhouse. the shops to buy them; I made gelato and granite with them as well as eating them for breakfast or with prosciutto as an anti pasto.
I’d like to add a peach maybe grown as an espalier, a cherry or even 2 and a purple mulberry. We have a very large white mulberry but I find the fruit insipid so am happy to let the birds devour them.
Sorry Helen for being so late; if you haven’t visited her yet visit the Patient Gardener for her end of month view and to read others bloggers accounts of what is happening in their gardens around the world.