Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Arbutus Seeds and Strawberries

This is always a busy time of year for us but we frequently check on the progress of the arbutus seed clusters.  Today Becky found the first open seed berries.  They are just beginning to open and the ants have yet to find them.  The white pulp beneath the seeds is what the ants eat.  They simply discard the seeds.  This may be the year that I taste a small piece of the white pulp.

Seed clusters are numerous on the three female plants growing behind the arbutus wall.  We have yet to see a new plant from seed appear in this area.  Arbutus is well known to rigidly follow its own schedule.  The number of years required for its seeds to germinate remains unknown to us.  We have scattered seed in suitable spots around the place but no arbutus plants appeared.  We tried to carry seed over the winter in our freezer but nothing grew when the seeds were spring planted.

The large number of big light green new leaves is impressive.  These leaves and their new stems quickly followed the cycle of the flowers.  The small reddish green new leaves show that these plants are still sending out new growth.  This pleases us since next year's flowers form only on the tips of the new growth.

These plants have nearly filled their safe area under the cage.  We need to decide just how we will deal with the ever expanding plants.  It may be that the foraging animals only feed on arbutus at the end of winter.  If that is the case, then we could remove the cage during the months of new growth.  Then we could replace the cage after allowing for the unhindered passage of new growth under the cage sides.  That would place the new growth at risk of being eaten but the rest of the plants would remain  protected.

We usually limit each post to one subject.  Strawberries are included here so that we will be reminded that fresh strawberries appear at the same time as new arbutus seed.  New strawberries never go unnoticed and their appearance will remind us when to look for arbutus seed.

The berries in the basket were just picked from our sixty plants.  The box is marked for Heller's Farm but sadly they are no longer open for picking.  We have been enjoying their berries for five decades.  All good things come to an end and that appears to be the case here.  Heller's fields were always well cared for and their berries were excellent.  We will remember their friendly greetings, fair pricing and top quality fruit as a totally pleasant experience.

We plant one dozen plants within the confines of a forty by sixty inch cage.  Bird netting keeps nearly all of the birds out. The cage is simply set aside to tend the plants or pick the berries.  We tried to plant thirty plants in the garden by the woods.  No covering netting is in place and no red berries have been found yet.  We may need to find a way to cover those plants next year.  For now the new plants are sending out runners.  We will limit the number and location of the new plants so that all have room to grow.  A densely planted bed like those that were in Heller's fields is our goal. 

No comments: