First Fruit of Spring 2015


My front yard garden of Concord Grapes:

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 the first 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 garden.

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 beneath it.

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 good time.

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 ahead.

The backyard cherry tree is producing hundreds of green cherries that are now about 1/4 inch in diameter.

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.

Memorial Day 2015 Report


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.


Annual East Orange Strawberry Festival

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 summer.


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 summer, 2015.

06/22/15 - First Fire Flies Spotted!

I wish I could say I took that photo, but my poor little camera wasn't up to the task so all I took were a lot of blurred "somethings." However, I saw several up close and that's exactly what they looked like in the above photo. Source of photo:

Now I will have some company in my garden when I sing my firefly songs.

07/03/15 Raspberry Festival in Full Swing!

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!


It's happening sooner than I thought. Just as the daily crop of raspberries dwindles down to barely enough to cover my cereal in the morning, the next set of flowers appears on the tips of the bushes.


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!


It is early August and some of the grapes are beginning to show their true colors. They will be deep purple when finished with their harvest show and are ready to be plucked and eaten.


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.

Jim Gerrish

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