Sheri Ann Richerson's exotic gardening, elegant cooking, crafty creations, food preservation and animal husbandry... all on two and a half acres in Marion, Indiana!

Growing Fruit

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Poncirus trifoliata ‘Flying Dragon’ bloomed for the first time this year. I planted it outdoors in the spring of 2005.

I moved here to the farm in August 2004. My goal – even back then – was to fill the land with useful plants. I brought a number of plants with me from my old place and promptly began planting new ones. Fruiting plants was an area I focused on fairly heavily – as were herbs and medicinal plants. Of course, I wanted fragrance – and finally I have it all. Everywhere you go in the yard this year you are greated with something that produces food or medicine and you inhale a delightful fragrance. Of course the smell changes depending on where you are in the yard and what time of year it is.

Here are the fruit plants currently growing here. This list is more for me and not intended to make anyone jealous. You too can grow a wide variety of fruiting plants – indoors and out – if you have the space and set your mind to it.

 

Apples

Bananas

Blackberry

Blueberries

Cherries

Cranberries

Elderberries

Fig

Gooseberry

Grapes

Mulberry

Oranges

Passion Fruit

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Sam Benowitz – Raintree Nursery

There are few pleasures in life that can compare to picking and eating fresh berries, apples and other fruit grown in your very own backyard orchard. While fruit trees and berry bushes may take longer to mature than fast-producing annuals, they will reward the patient gardener with loads of tasty fruit every season. Many trees and berry bushes bear so heavily, in fact, that you can’t eat all the fruit fresh—so canning and preserving is a great way to enjoy an orchard’s bounty all year long.

The stories below feature quality fruit-bearing trees and bushes ranging from fig trees and cherry trees to historical heirloom apples and improved berry varieties. Any of these productive trees and bushes can be great additions to the garden. Adding a new fruiting tree or bush will add beauty and structure to the landscape—and can feed you and your family for years to come.

 

 

Fig ‘Desert King’

Nature Hills offers hundreds of fruiting plants

 

Looking for a cold-hardy fig tree? Desert King Fig (Ficus carica ‘Desert King’) is a good choice for cooler climates because it’s hardy to USDA Zone 5 and produces large, sweet figs with strawberry-red flesh. How about an early-ripening cherry variety that’s perfect for pies? ‘Early Richmond’ Cherry (Prunus cerasus) ripens in late spring and the bright red fruits are excellent for cooking. Perhaps you’d rather grow raspberries. Raspberry ‘Brandywine’ (Rubus idaeus ‘Brandywine’) is cross of red and black raspberry plants, and it’s been called the best purple raspberry available.

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Tomato Super Sauce – the world’s largest sauce tomato.


 

Every year, horticulture experts around the world cultivate new and exciting plant varieties to enhance the diversity and productivity of gardens everywhere. Not just for show, most new varieties of fruits and vegetables offer improved yields and hardiness, and they thrive right alongside the tried-and-true varieties.

Gardeners always love to grow the newest varieties of their favorite plants, and the ones listed below are sure to be crowd-pleasers. Resulting from years of experience from established companies and garden enthusiasts, each of these unique varieties has something special to add to the garden. Increased disease resistance, more compact growth habits and unusual-colored fruits are all reasons to consider adding one of these new varieties to your garden.

 

Burpee introduces “world’s largest sauce tomato” 

 

Burpee is known for bringing new vegetable varieties to American gardens for 136 years—including the first white sweet corn, the legendary ‘Big Boy’ tomato, and ‘Sweet Seedless,’ the first ever seedless tomato. For 2013, Burpee has introduced SuperSauce Hybrid Tomato, “the world’s largest sauce tomato.”

SuperSauce is the new superhero of tomatoes. The first ripe fruits tip the scale at up to 2 pounds, measuring a whopping 5.5 inches tall and 5 inches wide. SuperSauce produces gallons of luscious, seedless sauce from a single plant harvest—one tomato fills an entire sauce jar. The easy-to-grow, indeterminate, disease-free plants yield a summer-long supply of exquisitely flavored marinara, tomato gravy or meat sauce. But wait! It gets even better. With its large segments of meaty and delicious flesh, SuperSauce is the only paste tomato that doubles as a sandwich slicer. Try it on a hamburger or tomato sandwich and you won’t believe the taste bonus over a horizontal slice of beefsteak.

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Get kids growing in the garden by starting them off planting their own strawberries. You can let them plant and care for a whole patch, or just one or two plants, planted in a strawberry jar or garden container.  Be sure to engage your kids in the planting process and let them get their hands dirty. Then show them how to care for and water their home-grown tasty treats. You can make this more fun for children by buying them their very own watering can. Don’t forget to show kids how to pinch off plant runners to reap larger sized berries. And of course have them do the harvesting and enjoy the fruits of their labor!

You’ll find most kids enjoy helping in the garden, they’re allowed to get dirty, they get some good exercise, actually learn and understand, first hand, where their food comes from and they’ll gain a good sense of nurture, nature and responsibility within the process.

Children love watching strawberries grow, they’ll see flowers bloom, garden bees, and fruit develop and turn color. After developing a sense of ownership of their plants, they will especially love eating the sweet fruits they grew themselves.

Here’s some tips to ensure strawberry success:

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A grove of banana trees.

Banana trees are really cool plants – not just because of their huge, exotic leaves or the tasty fruit they produce – but because of the many different colors or sizes of the fruit and the leaves. We are not talking about the same old yellow bananas you find on grocery store shelves either. No ma’am – bananas comes in pink, red and even purple! As for the leaves, there are banana trees with red leaves, ones that are red and green variegated as well as white and green variegated. In fact, the AE AE Banana, as the white and green variegated one is known, is highly sought after by banana plant collectors world-wide.

Of course, not all bananas are suitable for eating because of the massive amounts of seed the fruit contains, although some prefer to simply remove the seeds and eat the bananas anyway – and this is fine.

If you’ve not grown a banana tree in the past, they are easy to grow – and in the event you do not live in a tropical climate, you can find varieties that are a mere 3 to 4 feet tall at maturity. These are ideal for growing in containers and they do produce fruit within two to three years as long as they are well cared for. While you are not likely to end up with a banana tree grove – such as the one in the picture above, unless you have lots of containers filled with banana trees – you can still enjoy growing them year-round in your home or office. Here is what you need to know to get started growing your own banana trees.

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There is a wide variety of berries that will thrive in clay soil as long as you take the time to amend it. From your typical berries such as blueberries, strawberries, cherries and raspberries to berries that are less common such as honeyberry or service berry, there is sure to be a variety that is ideal for every garden. Understanding the correct way to prepare and amend the soil before planting your berries is the key to success.

Step 1: Select a site in full sun that has good air circulation. Prepare the soil by digging a hole by hand that is twice as deep as the head of the shovel and approximately 4 feet in diameter. This technique is known as double-digging. Break up any clumps. Remove roots, rocks or other foreign material from the soil.

Step 2: Add compost or other organic matter such as leaf mould. The appropriate amount of organic matter to add to each hole is 3%, or 3 cubic yards per 1,000 square feet. Mix the soil and the organic matter well and then fill the hole back with the amended soil.

Step 3: Get a soil test at this point so you know if you need to add any other nutrients or adjust the pH of the soil. If the test shows that other amendments are necessary, add them according to the instructions on the package label of your chosen amendments, making sure to thoroughly mix them into the soil. For example, blueberries perform better in soil that ranges between 4.5 to 5.2. If the natural pH of your soil does not fall in this range, it will be necessary to add finely ground sulfur or aluminum sulfate to the soil to adjust the pH of the soil before planting the blueberries.

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We are finally getting some much needed rain. The garden is beginning to look like a garden again. I have posted a bunch of new pictures in the photo gallery athttp://www.exoticgardening.com/modules.php?name=coppermine&file=profile&uid=2 .

We have had a busy week. Jerry laid a new flagstone walkway, moved one of my greenhouses and did more work on the vegetable garden so we can plant our summer crops.

We have added a ton of new plants to our gardens this year. To name a few, we have recently added a Semi-Dwarf Santa Rosa Plum, a Red Bartlett Pear, a Methley Plum, a Dwarf Black Tartarian Cherry, Salix integra ‘Hakura Nishiki,’ Dogwood ‘Cream Cracker,’ a Golden Curls Willow, Rosa ‘Golden Celebration,’ a Pink Dogwood, Rhododendron ‘Purpureum Elegans,’ Rhododendrum ‘Roseum Pink,’ Rose ‘Pat Austin,’ Rose ‘Baby Love,’ Phlox ‘Blue Magic,’ Magnolia grandiflora ‘Edith Bogue,’ Akebia quinata and Rose ‘Abraham Darby.’

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Today was another busy day. The kittens are crawling around on their own now so I put them in the attached garage.

Jerry dug up a lot of Rose of Sharon bushes from his mom’s house yesterday. He brought them home and we are planting them along our back fence row to create privacy.

I weeded some of the vegetable garden today, planted the eggplant and a few tomato plants.

Jerry’s mom bought us another Peach tree tonight. That brings our fruit tree count to 2 apple trees, 12 blueberry bushes, 4 peach trees, 2 cherry trees, 3 cherry bushes, 2 plum trees, 3 pear trees, 1 hardy orange tree, 2 cranberry bushes, 11 raspberry bushes, 3 blackberry bushes, 2 grape vines and so many strawberries that I can’t count them all.

My peppercorn bush is coming back from the winter so it is indeed hardy here. I can’t wait to harvest fresh peppercorns.

The herb garden, which we re-did, is taking off like mad. The basil seeds I planted are going to town. I am going to have a ton of fresh basil this year.

The strawberries are loaded. There are more berries on them this year than I have ever seen before. I am really excited. I canned some last year and we did enjoy those when the time came to eat them.

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According to legend, the Passion Flower (Passiflora spp.) was named by early Roman Catholic missionaries in South America because the flowers bore a fancied representation of the Passion of Christ. Roman Catholic priests of the late 1500’s believed that several parts of the plant symbolized features of the Passion, the suffering and death of Jesus. The ten apostles who remained faithful to Jesus throughout the Passion are represented by the five petals and the five petal-like sepals, while the hairlike rays above the petals were thought to represent the crown of thorns that Jesus wore. The five stamens were thought to represent the wounds of Christ, while the pistils represented the nails.These large, woody rapid growing vines cling to their supports with long tendrils and bear one-half inch to six inch wide flowers in a variety of colors, most commonly in shades of purples and reds, though some bear white, yellow, or blue flowers. The majority of these plants are native to tropical, subtropical, and warmer temperate regions of North and South America.Passiflora prefer a dormancy period in late fall or winter, although they will continue to grow and many will produce their famous one-day blooms year round. They like to receive four hours or more of sunlight a day – although this may be provided by grow lights. The trick to indoor blooming is to get the light close enough to the plant and bright enough to make it think it’s natural light without burning the leaves.

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