This year’s fruit harvest was excellent

Earlier this year, I wrote an article about the summer vegetable harvest that was based on gardeners who had contacted me and also on my own garden. It was a great year, and many people were still harvesting tomatoes, peppers, carrots, beets, fall spinach and even heritage raspberries a week before Thanksgiving.
This article is about the fruit harvest this year and is again based on growers who contacted me and also includes my own harvest. I spoke with Jim Birkholz, who owns Pleasant Valley Orchard and Strawberry Patch. Jim commented that the strawberry harvest was good, but the season was too short, given the work it takes to prepare for the pick-your-own season.
Most growers who had their own small patch had a bumper crop. I received calls on how to protect the strawberry patch for winter. The ideal conditions would be to have a slight ground freeze, followed by putting on straw, and then followed by a good snow cover. Leaves don’t work as well because they tend to pack down. The holes inside the straw cover provide air flow, which provides protective insulation.
Many blueberry growers had the best crop ever. I hope that the reason my crop was down was because I pruned out many of the old branches that should have been pruned out years ago. The buds for next year have already formed, so the best way to protect them is a good snow cover. My plants are about four feet high and keeping them covered is a problem.
Summer raspberries were very good, as they took advantage of ample moisture and a warm summer. The ever-bearing raspberries were also good, except that some heavy rains during the peak of production caused a lot of spoilage.
Growers of plums, pears, and grapes had a bumper crop, and the same goes for apples. The only problems with apples this year is that they need a freeze to sweeten, and we didn’t get one until the apples were already dropping.
Asparagus is not a fruit, but I have received a few calls about the best time to cut down the stalks. I always wait until spring to remove them because if we have a shortage of snow, they act as a fence to catch the snow for moisture come next spring.
I know we don’t have control over future weather, but it would be nice to have a growing summer like the one just past.

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