New Fruit Trees

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day!

I had the day off today and spent a good part of it puttering about in the garden. The garden is just coming to life again – shoots from bulbs are poking their conical tips out of the ground, the honeysuckle I worried was dead has buds slowly opening into tiny green leaves, and the stone fruit trees have fattening buds which will soon open into beautiful blossoms.

New leaves on honeysuckle Lonicera periclymenum var. serotina Florida
New leaves on honeysuckle Lonicera periclymenum var. serotina Florida

I bought a few fruit trees from Hirt’s recently – a female and male pair of kiwis and a fig. They were cheap, $25.57 for all three with shipping,  packaged well and shipped fast.  The kiwis, with friendly monikers Anna and Meader, are the smooth-skinned, small-sized Actinidia arguta variety and are supposedly easy to grow, and Anna apparently produces intense-flavored fruit. I’ll have to wait awhile to find out since the plants are yet mere babies and it might be 10 years before they produce fruit.

New fruit trees - Kiwi pair and fig
New fruit trees – Pair of kiwis Actinidia arguta Anna and Meader (middle and right), and Violette de Bordeaux fig

The nice thing about buying plants cheap is that you’re not afraid to experiment with them. I saw this picture on Margaret Roach’s excellent gardening blog, ‘A Way to Garden’, of espaliered kiwis and am very inclined to try it.

Espaliered kiwis Source: A Way to Garden
Espaliered kiwis
Source: A Way to Garden

And then there’s the more interesting aspect of watching your plant grow, not unlike bringing up a child. When it matures and starts producing fruit, it’s nice if you’re still around to harvest the first fruit, if not, your legacy will be enjoyed by someone else. There is a young citrus on our lot which for the first couple of years was a mystery. We knew it was a lime from a half-faded tag which said ‘   Lime’. Then it started producing strongly fragrant, extremely weird and wrinkly-skinned limes – Kaffir limes they turned out, best known as an ingredient in Thai food to add their characteristic aroma to soups and curries.

So, back to the new arrivals. They have been potted up in planting mix, with some handfuls of chicken manure and earthworm castings thrown in and watered with a diluted solution of Superthrive (1/4th teaspoon per gallon of water). For the last two years, I have been potting up plants in potting soil, until I watched this Container Gardening 101! video by Annie Hayes of Annie’s Annuals, where she says that potting soil is primarily for indoor plants, and outdoor plants should be planted in good quality planting mix. Now, if you’ve been following my blog, you know I keep going back to Annie’s for most of my fun flower purchases. And her annual beds are so swoon-worthy, I’m ready to trust her quite blindly! As for Superthrive, it’s one of those things where unless you’ve done a controlled experiment, it’s hard to know if it’s a miracle drug or a fantastic example of marketing success. I justify my purchases of Superthrive with the thought “It can’t hurt” and keep giving my plants expensive water.

The only figs I ever ate growing up were the dried ones which came as part of a dry-fruits-and-nuts gift box usually exchanged during the Indian festival of Diwali. On my evening walks here, I came across a fig tree in our neighborhood, with fruit-laden branches tantalizingly at eye-level. I bought some figs and loved them fresh, so I bought a Violette de Bordeaux, touted to be the best-tasting variety. They fruit well in pots and I’m all out of space so Violette’s going to have a contained life.

With the fig and kiwis, and the passionflowers which will ship in spring, I am now up to 12 different varieties of fruit in the backyard!

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