Persimmon Protection

First week November 2014

Two years ago I harvested about 6 fruits –first harvest!–from my wonderful Persimmon (Fuyu-type) tree. Wonderful, not just because it produces exceptional fruit, but also because it’s a beautiful tree at all times of the year–OK, maybe not so much in early spring before its late leaf-out, but every other time of the year.

Second week November 2014. Appreciate the colour while you can–it won’t last long…

That is, until last year when two things happened. The potentially prolific harvest (maybe about 100 fruits) was stolen entirely by squirrels. (“How can you be so sure?” Because I saw the blighters running along the top of the fence with them in their mouths!)

And the growth became gangly and unattractive. This spring I pruned off a lot of last year’s growth, mainly so I could actually manage to drape it with bird netting, hoping to keep out the squirrels.

Unfortunately this year’s (potential) harvest will be a fraction of last year’s (potential) harvest. Did I prune off too many fruiting branches, or do Persimmons do what many other fruit trees do–alternate good harvest years with less-good harvest years? Certainly my Italian plum, prolific last year, has only about a dozen plums this year.

So I decided that the effort to drape the whole tree for the sake of 20 persimmons wasn’t really worth it, but there might be an alternative.

Grateful for the way tomatoes-on-the-vine are sold…

…and oranges. I was buying them every few days, until they got a little dry and tasteless. And only late in the game did I think of saving the net bags…

If the squirrels can read upside-down maybe they won’t even try…

Then ran out of net bags:

Admittedly not the most beautiful garden-hack.

So does anyone else have a better solution?
 

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5 Effortless Edibles

Every garden design should include some fruits and vegetables. Here’s 5 “effortless” (OK, maybe a little effort) fruits and vegetables that will stimulate your appetite for more. This isn’t an exhaustive tutorial on growing these 5, you can find out more details online. But it is enough to actually succeed!

1. Garlic.

Garlic--wish I know what variety.

Garlic–wish I know what variety.

Who doesn’t love garlic? (Well, I do know a few people who REALLY don’t love garlic…) You can plant garlic in the container that held your summer geraniums. Or in the ground underneath your creeping thyme ground cover. Or of course in a bed all its own. It’s planted in the fall and harvested next summer. Best to use garlic that comes from a farmer’s market, or from the garden retailer, not what you bought at the supermarket, which if what I heard on a Youtube video that is too tedious to link is correct, is 73% likely to have come from China.

Use the larger cloves for planting, keep the smallest for the kitchen. They go 3″ deep, cover over, then mark them somehow so you’ll remember where, and what they are.

2. How ’bout Strawberries.

Strawberry basket

Strawberry basket

Making a nice sunny area ground cover, everbearing or day-neutral strawberries will last a few years. Let just a few of the runners “run”–cut off the rest– and your patch will be almost self-sustaining. And they’re evergreen here in coastal BC.

If you’re growing in pots/hanging baskets (nothing growing in pots is really “effortless”, because they’ll need more watering and feeding than ground-based growing) feed with a balanced fertilizer (same first, middle and last number) to start the season, then a high last number to get fruit going. In the ground, your strawberries will be happy with just your yearly compost layer.

3. Kale.

Kale is a love-hate kind of plant. It’s a Brassica, like cabbage and brussels sprouts, so it does have a cabbage-y-ish flavour. But it’s SO GREEN!, has an abundance of all the heath-benefiting antioxidant vitamins and minerals, almost no calories, and is very versatile. I’ve been trying kale smoothies! You can start winter kale now, and it will be harvestable all winter long.DSCN1922

Choose as sunny a spot as possible, because of course even in the best spot, there won’t be much sun come October. A little compost added to the spot is all kale needs. In the spring when it warms up, the kale will begin to put out flowers; the older leaves may get a bit bitter, but the flowers are lovely, like really mild broccoli.

Container growing is very practical, just remember the feeding/watering rule–more of both than in ground-based growing.

4. Lettuce.

Everyone should be growing lettuce, because it’s so easy, so many different varieties available, overwinters like it loves the cold, and is pretty to boot. Especially if you  plant a combinations of reds and greens. Add a little compost to your planting spot now, wait a few weeks for the weather to drop a couple degrees, then direct sow a few seeds every week or so until the temperature is consistently below 10 (C).

5. Raspberries.raspberry

I can hardly call raspberries “effortless”, but for the joy of picking your own, the little work is truly worth it. Raspberries. can be grown against a sunny fence, taking up little space if you carefully cut out 2-yr old canes and keep the fresh ones wired up against the fence–like espalier, but less work. The fruits grow in the second year of an individual cane’s growth, so don’t expect fruits the first year you plant. After fruiting (“everbearing” raspberries fruit in summer and fall, so wait until second harvest) the cane should be cut down to the ground, making room for more canes next spring. Some varieties to look for: Autumn Bliss, Autumn Britten, Caroline.

And Surprise! Surprise! There’s no reason not to try growing raspberries in a container–the bigger, the better.

There you have 5 “easy-care” (if not strictly speaking “effortless”) edibles that you can enjoy with minimal input. Are you growing any of these? Would you like to? Don’t wait, now’s the best time to try some of these.

If you find it a bit intimidating getting started with such “serious” gardening, just post a note in the comments, let me help you with it. After all, I’m your Garden Coach!