One of the projects last month was planting new berry vines and bushes and putting in an arbor of grape vines. With the colder nights, I up-ended a bucket over them just in case we might get a little frost and then uncovered them for the day.
The dream is to make the farm as self-sufficient as possible for its size and fresh fruit is necessary for a healthy diet. These plants will be raised organically and pollinated by honey bees raised here on the farm. Most of the plants put in were at least two year old vines with a few being a little older.
The berries planted included blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries but several different varieties of each. By planting several varieties, the harvest time will vary from early in the season to late stretching out the availability of fresh fruit straight off of the vine. It also allows for a variance in flavor for some of the jams, jellies, and wines that are made on the farm.
The varieties of blueberries include: Spartan, Bluecrop, and Blueray.
The Spartan has very large light blue fruit with a tangy sweet flavor and it ripens early in the season. The Blueray bushes produce large fruit with an outstanding dessert flavor which will ripen in early to mid season. Bluecrop are large and sweet berries available to harvest mid-season.
As with the blueberries, several varieties of raspberry canes were planted including: Brandywine, Royalty, and a Cumberland Black Raspberry.
The Brandywine is considered a Purple Raspberry with a pleasantly tangy flavor. It’s fruit is large, round and firm available to harvest in late summer. Royalty raspberries are also a purple fruit that are full-sized and sweet, excellent for jelly or jam ready for use in mid-July. Cumberland raspberries are black never seedy, ready in mid-season for pies, cobblers, jams, or jellies.
We will be putting in more varieties that will include the red and gold varieties. Some of these will be ever-bearing so we will have berries starting in mid-season going on into fall.
The blackberry vines planted were all thornless varieties. This makes it easier to work with the vines and harvest the fruit. The varieties of blackberries planted include: Arapaho Thorn-less, Chester Thorn-less, and the Triple Crown Thorn-less.
The Arapaho ripens earlier than any other thorn-less variety ready for harvest the last of May. The berries are large, tasty and firm. Chester Thorn-less blackberries are large and very sweet ready to harvest in July. The Triple Crown berries are almost as large as the Apache with a complex, sweet flavor. This berry ripens in late July.
The grape varieties vary not only in taste but color and include: Concord Seedless, Canadice Seedless, Himrod Seedless, Black Monukka Seedless, and Fredonia.
Concord grapes are a late seedless grape with dark blue slip-skin that is excellent for juice. These grapes ripen in September. Canadice Seedless grapes are a red grape and have a slightly spicy flavor and give a different taste when added into juice for wine-making available to harvest in mid-season. Himrod grapes are hardy and white with an excellent sweet juicy fruit. They are great for juice, wine, jams, or to dry for sweet raisins.
The Black Monukka Bunch grape is a medium sized black seedless grape with a tender skin and a crisp sweet flavor. It is good fresh or for raisins ready to harvest in August on into September. Fredonia grapes have a thick black skin that can be separated from the pulp easily growing in large bunches. They are sweet and excellent for snaking, juice or wine ready to harvest in August.
Many of these varieties can be purchased in two to four year stock and will produce some fruit the first year they are planted. With proper care, some of the vines could produce up to 50 years. By planting such a variety, the farm will not be limited in the use of the fruit harvested. Also, any surplus fruit can be sold to offset farm costs. This is just another way of making the farm more self-sufficient.