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Backyard Fruit Forest: Part II

Our 'Fruit Forest' has definitely progressed since I first wrote about my design concept last fall not long after we moved in! There is color from the columbines, there is greenery from the others, there is growth for sure, and there is SO much more to come as we await the majority of the understory plants to flower (chives, poppies, coneflowers, bachelor's buttons, dahlias, nasturtiums etc) and join the existing first blooms of the multiple columbines I've planted. I'm particularly impatient for the berries to commandeer the trellis as I know they will this summer!!

As you can see from my original documentation photos below, last fall I transformed it it from it's original stump-laden grassy 'blank slate', hiring a seriously skilled stump grinding pro who, with surgical precision, removed huge stumps on each side of the existing Braeburn apple tree (keeled-over from neglect but heavily laden with fruit), and getting in the first key plantings, including our potted Granny Smith apple and combo Cherry trees into the ground, along with mature blueberry bushes, berries and currants.

After dealing with a Hella Crazy Winter getting us unexpected snow and far-more-unexpected temps that dipped as low as 9F at night and 13F in the day, Spring arrived in spurts. An early March snowfall threw things for a loop, with some random warm patches that would kickstart growth, then pull us back into wintry vibes with our Last Frost Date ignoring the usual early April and pushing it closer to the end of the month. Soooo f'd up, y'all. But work did get done over winter, including fully mulching everything, building the berry trellis, installing a HIGHLY effective and inexpensive in-ground compost bin, and completing a heavy dormant prune and subsequent staking of the Braeburn with my husband (which was totally worth it, even if the li'l guy did look like it was in traction over the season!).

January April

So as we near the end of May, things are a bit behind schedule for growth in the garden but the wheels are turning as evening temperatures stay consistently higher, which is so necessary. There is a plethora of tiny fruit on the Braeburn, a few on the Granny (that's currently battling some rust issues - argh!), the cherry tree, currant bushes and blueberries are all beginning to fruit, and I'm now focusing on filling in the understory, keeping an eye out for weeds, and closely observing how each plant is doing and reacting to the weather here in the Valley. Organic gardening-approved Neem oil and Copper sprays are the only products we use to deal with aphids when ladybugs' numbers just aren't high enough to take one (yet), to prevent leaf curl and address fungal issues like rust that seem nearly unavoidable (thinking perhaps the large evergreens several houses down might be the culprit...? oy!).

I've also expanded the Fruit Forest far beyond the original area planned, stretching across the entire back quarter of the yard and curving down on one side to add more fruit trees and bushes! It's a bit addictive...

Late May

So with that, I thought I'd share the far-more-than-I-planned fruit inventory. For our young Fruit Forest, this is what we now are growing...

  • Granny Smith Apple

  • Braeburn Apple

  • Combo Cherry

  • Combo Pear

  • Anjou Pear

  • Salish Peach

  • Pomegranate

  • Blueberry (3)

  • Honeyberry (2)

  • Marionberry

  • Blackberry

  • Raspberry

  • Currants (Pink, Clove)

  • Gooseberry

  • Rhubarb

And y'all this appears to be working magnificently! A diverse assortment of native bees are showing up, the hummingbirds have begun some exploratory missions (wait til the bee balm and pineapple sage get blooming, girls & boys!), and the peaceful vibe is getting stronger and stronger every day it seems.

Why go anywhere else when you've got this beautiful sanctuary evolving on an almost daily basis?

This is what can be done over 9 months, y'all!


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