What we’re working with

Black Raspberries
25′ of black raspberries at Paper Crane Farm produce gallons of black raspberries each summer.

We live on two acres in the suburbs. The back half is a steep forested slope down to a slow river that was dammed up decades ago for some factory or other, leaving the town with some interesting waterways and a couple blocks of falling down brick buildings.

The front acre of the property has the house, of course, as well as little pockets that, if you squint just right, might just be considered sunny enough to grow fruit in in zone 5b. Or maybe we’re 6a. We’re kind of on the line. I suppose global warming will push us into 6a if we’re not there already.

There’s a south facing slope where we’ve planted the ‘orchard,’ 10 apple trees, 1 seckel pear, 2 apricots, 2 peaches, and 10 Nanking Cherries. The fruit trees are all ultra-dwarf trees of one sort or another. The cherry bushes will get a bit larger.

The house faces east and has a couple hundred square feet in front that we’ve been slowly cultivating. We’ve dug out a couple of beds for rhubarb, walking onions, asparagus, and ground cherries. We also put up a cow fence to grow hardy kiwis. Hardy they may be, but no kiwis yet. We also put ten Nova raspberry canes in last spring. Oh yeah, and two weeping mulberry trees. There are two beds right under the front windows that are yet unplanted. We’re thinking blueberries and huckleberries perhaps.

Around the north side of the house there’s a little strip of grass, maybe 10 feet wide, backstopped by overgrown forest. The honeyberries are doing alright there, and we’re going to try putting some currants in this year. The raspberries we put there seem dissatisfied. Surprise surprise. This year or next, we’re going to dig into the edge of that forest to add some shade tolerant plants, like aronia and American hazelnuts.

The back of house, facing west, is where the black raspberries are, as well as most of the raised beds. They get enough light before the sun gets eclipsed by the trees, that most annuals will grow ok. We haven’t had any luck with squash or melons though.

Other things hidden in various corners: grape vines, jostaberries, cornelian cherries, strawberry beds, goji berry, pawpaws, highbush cranberries, blackberries. Probably other stuff I’m forgetting.  Any place in the yard that isn’t producing something edible feels a little like wasted space. On the other hand, we’ve left the swing set and a large flat sunny area in back for the girls to play in. Choices.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *