So just now I was out in a little area where I first started planting stuff, five or six years ago, back around the time I joined Permies. I wandered over there to see if my transplanted wild sand plum trees (which are groaning with fruit this year for the first time) had anything ripe on them yet. Answer: mostly no, but I did find the first two or three ripe ones to snack on. Sand plums (Prunus angustifolia) grow in a thicket and are the size of large grapes, but totally worth it!
Then I wandered around behind that little hedge of plum trees to check on my big box store Wolf River apple tree, which has yet to even flower for whatever reason. Stopped to commune with a Li jujube which is twice as tall as me and covered in flowers. Could this be the year? (It's flowered before, but no fruit yet.) Anyway, got around to the back of the plum hedge and ate a couple more plums. Petted my apple tree, told him he is a good boy who will no doubt do great things someday. Because the weeds -- I mean unused mulch -- in this area is waist high, I turned without moving my feet to admire a patch of old fashioned day lilies that have exploded on four foot stems into huge spectacular bloom due to all the rain we've had. Stood there munching on sweet day lily petals for a couple of minutes, then ate a couple of the crunchy flower buds that hadn't opened yet. Still without moving my feet, I turned a little further to look at a gooseberry bush that's suffering my benign neglect ever since I planted it without ever fruiting much. Turns out it, too, has a lot of berries on it this year, mostly still green but a few were turning color, so I ate them too.
Right then it dawned on me. I was having a fuckingGeoff Lawton preachy-video food-forest-abundance moment.
I was standing there in the bloody sunshine, listening to the birds singing and the pollinators buzzing, grazing contentedly and stuffing my face in a genuine no-shit accept-no-substitutes multilayer polyculture food forest. Edible herb layer, shrubs/berries layer, understory fruit trees layer, still waiting on the canopy layer (persimmons, jubube, some other stuff coming along from seed.)
It's not like I didn't plan it that way ... for very half-assed values of the word "plan" -- but it still snuck up on me. Just standing there in my food forest, stuffing my face like a damn bear!
Dan, this year the gooseberries are literally bursting. Like jewelweed, they are so full they are popping! I ate a few hundred today working out which will be stool layered this fall. So that I can eat a few thousand!
Might have to try the sand plums. I have heard they are something of a trap plant for cerculio. Maybe you can see if they have recieved damage or you have mummies under it? Got wrecked this year on the peaches. Last year got 20 per tree. This year- 2 total.
Standing on the shoulders of giants. Giants with dirt under their nails
Tj Jefferson wrote:Might have to try the sand plums. I have heard they are something of a trap plant for cerculio. Maybe you can see if they have recieved damage or you have mummies under it? Got wrecked this year on the peaches. Last year got 20 per tree. This year- 2 total.
My sand plums seem to drop all their insect-damaged fruit -- it discolors as if it is ripening prematurely, then drops, leaving nothing but perfect fruits on the trees. I've never made a study of which insects are doing the damage. My one commercial peach tree had just a few fruit this year and it was all badly insect-damaged this year. I have a bank of "feral" peaches that sprouted from rodent-spread pits from an older tree planted by my father in law; they are doing well, still small and hard but in good quantity and without any visible insect damage yet. I don't do anything by way of orchard management to control insects; I just accept the fruit that I get in years when the natural bounty exceeds what insects and critters can destroy. Fundamentally I am too lazy to be a proper orchardist, but I believe that on a healthy property with a well-functioning polycultural ecosystem full of birds, amphibians, and a top-to-bottom insectoid/arthropod food chain undamaged by sprays of any kind, I will get fruit more often than not. I spend a lot of time figuring out what sorts of things might flourish under this regime, planting new stuff to see if it does, and very little time worrying about the stuff that hasn't flourished yet.
That's awesome, Dan. Beautiful berries. Would you mind to post a good picture of the gooseberry leaves when you get a chance? After the one plant walk I attended, Jackie Dill took several people to a roadside spot to dig up a few berry plants. I took a couple of each type and stuck them in a pot when i got home.
One has grown several canes that root where they land and is quite stickery. The fruit looks like blackberry but with fewer seeds and a different taste. Leaves are bigger than blackberry, too.
The other grows up like a bush, is a bit woody and has pretty shaped leaves that may look like your gooseberry. This one hasn't fruited yet.
I can't remember the names she gave them. For some reason I keep thinking that she said one of them was buffalo berry and should be planted near the front door because it smells so good.
Oh, and my prized possession is the one elderberry cutting that survived the trip home as well as the following winter. We recently moved and I brought them all to the new house to give them a permanent place to set roots.