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The Self-Prescribed Fruit Snob

strawberries-in-vintage-bulb
freshly picked mulberries

Last spring I had an Epiphany: as much as I truly love fresh fruit, I tend to eat many more vegetables.  A factor in this is the fact that I’ve gotten comfortable growing pretty much only what we consider vegetables and herbs. (Putting aside the fact that most vegetables truly are fruits anyway.)  I worked on a pick-your-own fruit farm for nearly a decade growing up and became as a result, a certified fruit snob.  Nothing is worse than biting into a mealy store-bought apple or a flavorless, yet sour, peach. Don’t underestimate the deliciousness of a ripe-from-the- tree plum or apricot. I tend to skip over many fruits at the grocery store because I’m weary of the poor quality leading to disappointment.

So last year, I decided to start branching out a bit from my comfort zone of solely vegetables, and vowed to start incorporating fruits into our edible gardening. I planted gooseberries, black currants and “pink lemonade” blueberries last Spring.  This year I acquired hardy kiwis and a small variety of strawberries.  Grayson also decided we should try growing watermelons, so we are giving that a shot too.

mulberry-stained-fingersWe also have several wild mulberries growing in the property that yield a large amount of fruit– if we manage to stay on top of picking them before the birds help themselves.  It makes my heart smile when I catch Grayson sneaking ripe mulberries off the tree. He emerges with purple fingers and lips while trying to maintain his story that he did not eat any of the berries.  I also found several wild blackberries on our back property line that I’ve been monitoring in hopes of beating the birds to them.

black-currants-ripening

The gooseberries and currants remind me of my grandparents’ farm in England.  I have vivid childhood memories of reaching deep into the thorny gooseberry shrub for fruit for jam making in the afternoon. I am positive that my grandmother was using my tiny arms and hands to benefit her from reaching through the branches herself.  And they also had beautiful and bountiful currant bushes.  My mother planted red currants at her home last year and I planted black here.  Both make delicious jellies and my black currant has very pretty fall foliage as well.

We have ambitions of planting a small orchard on the property with a couple trees of each kind.  I would love some sweet and tart cherries, peaches, Honeycrisp apples, and Asian pears in addition to the couple of plums I planted earlier this Spring.  I’ve decided if I am going to be as particular as I am about fresh fruit, I’d really better get moving on growing some here myself.  There’s no comparison in the quality and taste between what’s generally available in the stores versus homegrown.  And I can assure you, grocery shopping from the back garden never gets old.

Posted By: Jessica J. Crawford Behnkes Garden Blogger

Stephanie Fleming was raised at Behnke’s Nurseries in Beltsville. Her Mom, Sonja, was one of Albert & Rose Behnke’s four children. She was weeding from the moment she could walk and hiding as soon as she was old enough to run, so many weeds, so little time. Although she quickly learned how to pull out a perennial and get taken off of weed pulling duty.

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