When we think orchards, we should think of shared spaces, imagining what else we can plant alongside our fruit trees to enhance, and enchant, our local outdoor spaces.
You know we love fruit trees. Fruit trees anchor our living spaces. They are echoes of Eden, offering us a vision of goodness, comfort, plenty, security and a far-reaching time-horizon. They give us a sense of constancy, holding out the promise that both they, and hopefully we, will be here not just this season, but the next, and the next, for years to come. And when we are gone, they gently hint, they will go on bringing forth fruit for generations.
The problem is waiting for the first harvest to kick in. We are often impatient! Unlike vegetable gardens, fruit trees take a few years to mature. Apple trees, for example, take 4-5 years to yield their first fruits, and some folks say we should prune back that first harvest to help the tree become even more robust and a better producer in the decades to come.
So the challenge is: what to do while waiting for the fruit trees to mature? And the answer is: berry bushes!
Berry bushes can thrive in the company of fruit trees. They can produce a harvest the first year they are planted. They can adorn the spaces around the trees and turn an orchard into a multi-level, multi-seasonal food garden.
And there are oh-so-many berries that can thrive here in Baltimore – feeding us in the summer while the fall fruit crop comes in and expanding nature’s buffet that we have unnecessarily limited ourselves to.
They, coupled with fruit trees, bring the wildness and abundance of forests to our doorsteps – in contained and accessible spaces of settlement.
So when you think orchards, think berry bushes. We hope to offer lessons on which berry bushes you can plant, and how to take care of them in the months to come.
Meanwhile, enjoy the blossoms of spring.