This is what the grapes looked
like last June, hanging all over my gateways and fences. In the
fall they turned deep purple and people walking by could pick
them off and eat them right off the vine. Delicious!
When the first winter frosts
killed off all the grape leaves, I pruned the branches back and
built a new rack for the grapes to grow on. In late January, a
car smashed into my front yard, but did not damage any grape
vines. Still, I was worried about them all winter long. Grapes in
the winter really look dead.
So I was excited after finding
tulip blooming, to notice the tiny buds
beginning to show themselves on the grape vine. I marked the date
on my calendar - April 17th - so next year I will know to start
looking for them just before Earth Day.
Up close you can see a touch of
green at the base of the bud on what appears to be a stalk of
dead wood. The little buds are appearing all over the stalks and
I hope by June I will have a repeat of last year's bountiful
grape crop, only a little more controlled and easy to harvest
from the new racks. By next August, some will be dark purple and
then I hope my visitors will help me enjoy the grapes again.
Grape Leaf Buds abound on Earth Day, 04/22/15
Now it is May and the first signs
of growing fruits are all over my garden.
By May 8th, the grape leaf buds
have grown into green leaves and stalks, complete with the little
bumpy green flowers that will eventually become grapes. Seeing
these inspires me to check the other fruiting plants in my
The dead sticks in my raspberry
patch are now covered with green leaves and like the grapes, are
beginning to show tiny raspberry flower buds, each of which will
eventually become a ripe red raspberry.
High up in the backyard cherry
tree, we see all four stages of cherry growth from small white
flower (1) to pollinated flower (2) to green cherry growing
inside flower (3) and finally the green cherry ready to continue
its growth until it becomes juicy and red (4). That will happen
in early June.
The flower of the blueberry plant
resembles the berry in shape, but not in color. The white flower
will fall off and then the blueberry will appear on the stalk
Last to appear will be apples and
blackberries. I have some pear trees but they have a few more
years of growing before they will begin to produce fruit. All in
5/14/15 Meanwhile, the
strawberries are plodding along. In previous years I grew them in
the garden, but this year I have decided to grow them in pots for
two reasons - 1) so I don't have to bend over to look for them
and - 2) so they hang over the edges of the pot and don't drag in
the dirt (less cleaning).
Now it is becoming clear that
these are not tiny grapes growing on the grape vine, but grape
"flowers" that more resemble brocolli than grapes. The
bees and other polinating insects know what they are and they are
busy pollinating the flowers for the transformation that lies
The backyard cherry tree is
producing hundreds of green cherries that are now about 1/4 inch
The raspberry buds are getting
ready to open their flower petals. When they do, those that are
pollinated by insects will turn into ripe red raspberries. This
will go on for about a month and then when you have picked the
last raspberry, you will note that the plants are getting to go
through the entire sequence a second time for fall raspberries.
It is an interesting and
enlightening experience to go from a textbook understanding of the life cycle of grapes to seeing it happen in your
own garden. It is Memorial Day (5/25/15) and I have just seen the
first stamen and anthers protruding from some of the grape
flowers on my Concord Grape vines. The stigma and pistil are what
humans call the female parts, and the stamen and anthers are the
male parts... as if such terms mean anything to grapes.
The raspberries are beginning to
blossom with small white flowers. Each flower will turn into a
berry...soon, I hope!
The white blueberry flowers are
gone and we can see the beginnings of green berries growing in
their place. In a few weeks the green berries will begin to turn
blue, ready to put on my cereal or bake into muffins.
The cherries are larger and
turning yellow. Birds are beginning to notice them and take nips
and nibbles on them from time to time. That's OK. There's enough
for all. Even the squirrels.
The potted strawberries are still
growing slowly, so I have planted some new pots to keep the
berries on my table all summer long. Just as the red berries in
the first pot are used up, the berries in the next pot will be
ripening, and so on. This takes some careful planning.
With the arrival of the first
red, ripe strawberry, I declare the beginning of the Annual
East Orange Strawberry Festival at my house. I always get to
eat the first one, but after that, it's up for grabs as the
strawberries begin to ripen in batches at a time.
It's hard to tell if the next
Festival will be the Raspberry Festival or the Cherry
Festival. Right now my money is on the Raspberries which
only have to turn red to win. The cherries are still small and
just turning yellow.
Although the Grape Festival is
still months away, today I saw the first few real grapes
beginning to form from the tiny Concord grape flowers. As they
get bigger and heavier, they will begin to hang downwards and
then will turn from green to deep purple by the end of the
The Cherries are ahead of the
Raspberries and will be ready
to harvest this weekend. The Cherry
Festival is ON! Note that there are still a few yellowish
cherries lower down in the tree, so the harvest will start at the
highest branches and the lower branches will be given a few more
days to ripen.
06/21/15 - The First Day of Summer - Father's Day - Happy
Birthday to Sandra!
The Concord grapes are getting
fat and heavy and now hang down in proper bunches on my new front
yard racks. They still have a long time to grow into the dark
purple final product, but as I sit in my garden every day, I can
envision the Feast of Grapes getting closer.
The grapes no longer cover the
front gate - which was the purpose of placing the racks inside
the yard - but those entering through the side gate still have to
duck low and in time will be able to gather the grapes in their
mouths without using their hands.
Meanwhile, along the north side
of the house, the green seedless grapes are slowly forming their
longer bunches. They get sun mostly in the morning and then again
in the late afternoon, so that affects their growth timing.
In the back yard, the first
raspberries are beginning to ripen so the game of Raspberry Hide
and Seek opens the summer Raspberry Festival on this first day of
I have already collected
Raspberries for nibbling on, but today I brought out a cereal
bowl and half-filled it with Raspberries. I'll be able to repeat
this kind of collection every morning for about a week. Then the
Raspberries will begin to become scarce until finally, no more
can be found. But just you wait! Soon, the flowers will begin
growing again and there will be another harvest at the end of the
summer! It's a good thing we all love raspberries around here!
August's crop is cherry tomatoes.
This is Fred's "catch" for this morning. These are
juicy and sweet and we both like to pluck them off the vine and
pop them in our mouths as we walk by. One tomato equals a handful
of raspberries! I put a few of these, cut into slices, on my
sandwiches last week. But now they are coming out in clusters so
it's time to make tomato sauce and pot roast and every recipe we
enjoy that has tomatoes in it!
OK, I'll be honest. I was so busy
picking and eating Concord Grapes once they began to ripen in
late August, that I forgot all about taking photos. It's all
right, though. There are still plenty of grapes in all stages,
from ripe dark purple, to green and waiting to turn purple.
Everyone who passes through the garden gate stops to pick some of
the ripest grapes for a quick snack. Leave the light purple and
green ones alone- they are sour, but in time they will also ripen
and be ready for snacking.