We opened up for Pick-Your-Own honeyberries this week and it is always a pleasure to meet the people who come out to enjoy some time in the orchard.
Will and Jackie Atkinson and their summer apprentice drove all the way over from the Iron Range to pick some berries and visit with us. Will and Jackie live in northeastern Minnesota where it gets even colder than where we are. Lifetime homesteaders, they stumbled into the seed saving business, and you can read more about them and their business at www.seedtreasures.com. Jackie is also well known for her Backwoods Home column “Ask Jackie” (about anything and everything to do with homesteading!) as well as her blog, cookbooks, novels, and animal care books. You can imagine we had a lot to talk about and the afternoon passed by very pleasantly. Jim had to duck out early to help a neighbor bale hay while we continued on with the zone 3 cold hardy orchard tour.
Jackie often jokes about showing folks how not to do things, and the picture below is definitely one of those cases! Do NOT let the grass crowd out your cherries – the difference is dramatic. The best scenario we have found is to plant into plastic for weed control as well as till in between the rows.
One other thing we noticed was the frost line – cherry blossoms at the top of the hill survived 26 F frost and are producing a nice little first crop (planted in 2013) while those further down the hill did not. Do not plant cherries in frost pockets or where they will get wet feet – even though our low spot does not have standing water, they still do not grow well there.
While later than normal in the season to plant, it’s only in the 70’s and 80’s these days, and we have our rows laid out in plastic and drip tape. We plan to grow out most of the plants for shipping bareroot our customers.
I’ll also mention that earlier in the week we had a visit from Joe and Steve, owners and founders of Plantra. They stopped by with some samples of their netting, which is much easier to handle than what I tried from local big box hardware stores. We also like their grow tubes which protect our nursery plants from rabbits and rodents, and also provide a little extra boost of heat. The also have wider tubes for garden vegetables like tomatoes and melons. Check ’em out!