In the next phase of creating our garden, we turn our eye toward slightly longer-term investments. Fruit trees and berry bushes, when planted from rootstock or containers, require at least a year of root setting and growth to bear fruit. Even if they are sold from the nursery with fruit coming in, those should be plucked off at the bud to help the plant put more energy into its roots.
Before planting, consider the amount of light and drainage when choosing your site. If using a pot, you can create drainage with river stones on the bottom. Generally, fruit trees and berry bushes like very sunny spots with good drainage. The variety is also important. If you live in an area with harsh winters, as my family and I do, it is particularly important to ensure that the type selected is suited for the coldest of winters. Often, a nursery will list the USDA cold-hardiness zone on the label or site page. This information is generally reliable but not perfect; individual variation and care can make the difference between a plant thriving or dying.
At our new home in Maine, we have a sunny spot on the west side of the lawn that has a lot of afternoon sun and excellent drainage. Luckily, in between the weeds and comfrey, we discovered a raspberry shrub growing. After digging out the weeds, thinning out the comfrey, and clearing out the adjacent beds, the raspberry is thriving. There’s no reason to mess with a good thing, so we are planting four more cold-hardy raspberry bushes right next to that one, as well as a fruit tree in the corner with the most sun. Our thinking is that the previous owner must have planted the raspberry bush there for a good reason, and it is thriving.
A good crop of juicy raspberries, which might not happen for two years, will be a summer treat worth waiting for.
Whoever coined the term ‘comfort food’ is a genius. I can’t think of a better way to describe this quick and easy family meal, and I have lost count of the number of times I have cooked it. It’s versatile, requires minimal preparation, which you can do in advance, and above all, it’s wonderfully satisfying and won’t have you reaching for pumpkin spice muffins an hour after dinner.