Stella Otto: The Backyard Fruit Gardener

Today's Tip: Mow vegetation short around the base of fruit trees and bushes to reduce winter habitat for rodents.

Four Seasons in the Fruit Garden thru the Lens of a Camera — Spring, part 2

Blackberry canes pruned and staked

Black­berry canes pruned and staked as spring slowly arrives

Spring in the fruit gar­den is still run­ning very far behind here in the north coun­try. At least we are start­ing to see green buds. Cher­ries that are nor­mally in bloom around Mother’s Day finally make a show it for Memo­r­ial Day. Once I felt the last snow was truly behind us and the dan­ger of dam­ag­ing freezes was hope­fully also close to past, I did prune the black­berry canes. They with­stood the win­ter cold well, but the snow load did cause con­sid­er­able break­age. So, some hills look a lit­tle ragged. Here is what the fruit gar­den is start­ing to look like.




Rhubarb --- The first Edible Harbinger of spring

Rhubarb — The first Edi­ble Har­bin­ger of spring

I can’t wait for the first meals from our gar­den. We have plenty of canned and frozen good­ies from last year’s gar­den, but that first fresh meal herald­ing a new grow­ing sea­son is always so welcome.






Grape arbor, as it was done in Thomas Jefferson's day, Monticello

Grape arbor, as it was done in Thomas Jefferson’s day

Mid-month took me on a road trip to the East Coast and south to Vir­ginia. I enjoyed the warmth and the much more advanced plant growth. A trip to Mon­ti­cello to visit the gar­dens and orchards left me felling like I had moved to a dif­fer­ent world. Enjoy a small sam­ple of the pho­tos I took there.



nectarines setting fruit, Monticello

.…and nec­tarines too

Cherries already setting fruit in the south, Monticello

Cher­ries already set­ting fruit in the south





Fire­b­light can estab­lish a toe­hold as early as bloom and is not to be taken lightly

With the fruit grow­ing sea­son already in full swing, it is of course no sur­prise that it is time to be vig­i­lant for all the dis­eases that can take hold in the south­ern humidity.









Next stop, Edi­ble Land­scap­ing nurs­ery in Afton, VA were I received a most warm wel­come in more ways that just warm weather. What a Gar­den of Eden! I’ll let the pho­tos take you through.

Huge & beautiful kiwifruit vines grace the arbor

Huge & beau­ti­ful kiwifruit vines graced the arbor

hardy kiwifruit

Lots of hardy kiwifruit already developing

Persimmons in bloom

Per­sim­mons in bloom



Figs a-plenty! Even on some of the young cut­tings in the greenhouse











Pink Champagne currant coming into bloom

Pink Cham­pagne cur­rant com­ing into bloom

wel­come me back home, the end of the May.

Buy The Back­Yard Orchardist and the Back­Yard Berry Book — the per­fect Father’s Day gift for the man in your life who would like to learn all the secrets of grow­ing great fruit!