By short, Iím thinking not only of the growing season, a factor here in Maine, but rather of the special predicament that confronts anyone with a summer house in the country: guests, family, and mouths evaporate by Labor Day to return to work and school. Solution: a peach, a cherry, and some raspberries to dazzle and delight the assembled in July and August, year after year. Even a small yard can accommodate them. Following are the most delicious choices I know for a temperate zone of 5b or 6.
They need only be planted carefully, pruned in spring, mulched against weeds, and wateredóan easy date if you live in an area without animal marauders. Otherwise, you must resign yourself to fence them against deer, and loosely encircling the tree trunks with a foot high collar of hardware cloth against girdling mice. During the few days before fruits fully ripen each season, you may need a low electric wire against rascal raccoons who foul each fruit by tasting , and add insult to injury by breaking the branches. Cherries want an additional, temporary, bird net the last few days. You just have to laugh off these defensive actions; at least youíre not standing there with a bayonet! And the reward is fully worth it.
Fine fruit tree sources: Adams County Nursery, Aspers, Pennsylvania, or Miller Nurseries in upstate New York. Nourse Farms in Massachusetts provides professional berries.
- Red Haven Peach (Halehaven x Kalhaven, orig. 1940)
| Iíve tasted many peach varieties in regional farmersí markets, and this is the luscious one. For cold areas, site the trees to the south of a building as protection from icy north wind. My Maine ones produce large, juicy, red cheeked, professional peaches in incredible abundance on easily plunderable, low trees at the end of August. They began fruiting within two years of planting. |
- Montmorency Cherry
| This is the definitive tart cherry for pies (a rare pleasure these days, try the recipe posted on Demos foods.) Their sparkling flavor is delicious enough to eat out of hand too, or to dry unsweetened for later. Self fruitful (no second variety necessary to cross pollinate), the ones I ordered from Miller Nurseries grew into lovely small, trees, and began producing within a year or two after planting. |
- Taylor and Caroline Raspberries
| Raspberries donít travel well, bruise, mold quickly, and are costly when you can find them. Wild ones taste best due to their intense flavor. But even if youíre lucky enough to have access to them, their season is short and likely to dwindle to naught if rain is short. Of domesticated berries, the tastiest of the summer bearers is Taylor. The new fall-bearing variety Caroline (more flavorful by far than the old standard Heritage) kicks in late summer and continues until frost. Family and friends love to pick quick bowl-fulls of perfect ones (one neednít even bend down to gather them), and the bushes replenish themselves with ripe bounty several days later. A tablespoon of desert wine splashed over them with a tad of sugar makes a divine desert. |