Do you have garden dreams? Not the the nighttime ones where vines reach out to grab you. The daydreams where vegetables reach for the sky and weeds, especially thistle, don’t feel comfortable coming in. You know the picture perfect scene where your soil is dark, rick, and heaped high in wide beds with permanent walking paths in between? Is it just me or do you also dream of your tiller retired from active duty and asleep in the garden shed? It’s a fall, winter, and spring dream until summer brings a reality check.
The truth is that my garden is nothing like my dream except for small patches that keep my hopes and hands reaching. The main reason is that I did not start small. No, not me, I jumped into ‘Holy Cow’. The name my neighbor christened my first large garden. Now I have added a south garden and we’ve added bushes and trees to the nearby area to form the beginning of an orchard. We completely ignored the advice of the experts to start small and build. It is wise, I agree BUT the produce volume is small. We need food, LOTS of it. We feed six and sometimes eight mouths.
Last summer I began to wake up to an imbalance and could not save most of the garden so I concentrated on the orchard as I had bought a number of bushes and a few trees. I also transplanted some bushes from the north garden where snow trains the limbs to remain prostrate on the ground. I’ve now seen what they do in the Scandinavian countries so I’m going to trim and build a support for the north black currant bush.
But as I happily put in bush after bush, I’ve realized that some bushes need to have a spare like Honeyberry. Two are needed for pollination but if one dies then one remains unproductive until a new transplant reaches maturity. So I will be buying more bushes.
- How many bushes or trees do I need for optimal pollination?
- How many bushes do I need to produce enough crop to carry me through an entire year. Is it possible to produce such an amount?
Since right now it is most often just me doing the work and after retirement it will probably still be mostly me as Kirk will likely crank up money making from home though he will pitch in far more than now. So I’m thinking of the calendar and the work load at certain times. How can I spread out the harvest times?
- I’m looking into when berries and fruit need harvested. Will it conflict with other demands?
More harvest earlier in the summer helps take the pressure off of August and early September when most of the garden is ready.
- Can I create a blossom pattern of fruits, berries, and vegetables that is continuous enough to sustain 2 honey hives?
I would eventually like to once again raise bees. I’ll put them in the less snowy South garden. Honey and a better pollinated crop is a win, win situation. The first attempt here was a failure as there wasn’t enough food. Tons of wild flowers all summer that year but just because there is a flower does not mean it contains food for honeybees. Hence, the work on creating a bee haven in my own yard plan. When I have a steady series of blossoms that last the spring and summer and can sustain the bees, then I will have a continuous supply of food for us too. Fresh berries and veggies is always better. No more gluttonous chore of harvesting everything in a short period of time. There just isn’t enough time and energy in this aging body.
First order in the plan is to create a list of trees and bushes that will grow well here and we like the fruits of plus the number I plan on putting in with limited space and water in mind.
2 – Cherry Trees 3 – Apple Trees (Would like 4)
2 – Plum Trees
2 – Elderberries
3 – Nankin Cherry 2 – Honeyberries (Increase by one)
2 – Black Currant 1- Red Currant
4 – Service Berries (Will see how many make it)
3 – Gooseberries
(Must replace the wild gooseberries I have with less prickly varieties.)
Blackberries (Will try.)
I’d also like chokecherry trees. I’m going to investigate putting a few in the lower pasture where there is a small water drainage area. They grow wild around us but most of the time the berries are rather small and quite puckery because of a lack of moisture the end of the summer.
Last year I began to keep record of when each variety blossomed, how long, and when the berries came on and for how long. The records help me to determine the amount of harvest they produce and ways to spread out the work load. Also how they fit in with raising bees.
I’m curious. What do you have in the way of fruit and berries growing where you live? We can learn from each other or, in my case, maybe just dream? I often do that when you comment. One of these first days I’m going to give you a tour with pictures. Our average rainfall is just 15.66 inches in Wyoming. We are prairie with very few trees except for the mountains and some and I mean some creek bottoms.
What are your favorite berries and why? I’ll fantasize that we could grow them too.