I've been thinking a lot about what to do about next year in several areas. The major two being fruit related. I've slowly added fruits to my garden over the years. The majority came in 2011 when the yard was finished. But last year I looked sadly at my Green Gage plum and wondered if it would ever bloom. It is a poor, sad tree. The aphids like to take it over and it hasn't been healthy. I do spray it with insecticidal soap when it gets bad. But after reading about it I found that the European plums tend to have more trouble. I know I love the Japanese plums as that is what they sell in the farmers markets. I should have taken that as a hint about what grows well around here. I'm not quite at the point of giving up on the Green Gage, but I really wanted to see if a Japanese variety would grow better.
So I thought about what spot I could tuck a tree into. Plums typically are about 20 feet tall and our yard is totally planned and planted. So it had to be in the vegetable garden. I've grown less fond of the sunflowers over the years, but I like to have something tall along the southwest wall of the house. It at least pretends to keep us cooler since we lack shade (the flaw of having a vegetable garden against the southern part of the house). I've thought about growing vines up the wall. But that is bad for the longevity of the house. So maybe a tree would work.
The area in question is only 3' across and right against the foundation. The path goes right next to this. I really don't want a standard sized tree as it wouldn't grow correctly. So I finally decided on a shorter plum. A Weeping Santa Rosa. It doesn't produce the prodigious quantities of fruit a real Santa Rosa can produce, but the fruit is supposed to be even better. And it is self pollinating. It only gets 8'-10' high naturally, so I can probably keep it pruned to 7'-8' easily enough. I thought about pruning it to an espalier, but I honestly think contorting the plum to a linear shape would be easier than that. Instead of 3-4 main branches, I'll have two that go along the line of the house. I might need some support early on to get the main branches to go where they need to go, but once the main branches are set, the tree ought to be easy to keep pruned. At least that is my hope.
Another problem is my strawberries. I have some disease that is killing off my strawberry plants. Earliglow seems much less affected though its production has lowered a lot. Whatever it is doesn't seem to affect the figs, pears, or apples. The plum is a poor sick thing, but doesn't seem to show signs of verticillium (lower branches dying - I tend to have more trouble with the newer growth where the aphids love to be). So maybe it is red stele. Or maybe not. I'm going to replace Sparkle with Surecrop. Not as tasty maybe, but more reliable. I'll probably remove all plants from the plum section just in case it is verticillium as the stone fruits are so susceptible. At my last house I never had disease problems in anything really. The soil was so clean. But it was also clay with its inherent problems. This sandy loam we have here grows things so well, but I swear there are so many diseases. I don't know if it is from the soil itself or the warmer area with everyone and their gardens so close.
And since I had spent yet more money on fruit I decided I needed to update my tally for 2014. It is the new year after all. It really seems every year I spend more and more money on fruit, but still haven't seen the payback. I have in the little fruits. Even the dying strawberries more than paid for themselves. At some point I'm going to have to quit buying fruit trees. Though I'd still love a persimmon. And I so wish I could have two paw paw trees, but there are certainly no spots for two large trees (a very under used tree that is so delicious). The persimmon might happen though. I'm sure there are small persimmons out there. Maybe if my Paradisio fig never ripens any fruit or if I give up on the Green Gage plum a persimmon could go there.