There's a corner of my garden where I first tried growing vegetables but the soil is just not good enough for them. The native soil in this area is extremely gritty and fast draining which means that it doesn't hold on to the nutrients and water. I had made a number of attempts to improve the soil in this area by digging in compost, old potting soil, peat moss and natural fertilizers. Perhaps if I had spent another decade adding lots and lots of additional organic material to the soil it might have brought the stuff around. But I didn't have the patience for that and anyway I wanted more room and a space that was easier to work in. The new veggie garden got built and this corner was left to rest for a year and a half while I tried to figure out how best to use it. Last fall I had the brilliant idea of trying fruit trees here.
All the goodies that I had previously dug into the soil had the beneficial effect of making it easier to dig in that area today. I didn't dig up the entire area again, I just dug holes large enough for the plants. The only thing that I added to the soil that went back into the planting holes was a little bit of bone meal. All but one of the plants were planted in gopher baskets. I then scattered a small amount of a slow release granular organic fertilizer made from turkey manure over the top of the soil and then covered each planting area generously with home made well aged compost. There's supposed to be another storm coming through this weekend which should help to settle the trees in.
Here's what got planted:
Mulberry bush, Morus nigra
Black mulberries are an incredible taste treat. The berries look a lot like black berries, although there are red and white varieties of mulberries (M. rubra and M. alba). The black mulberries are the tastiest, with the most complex and musky flavor. The white and red mulberries tend to be simply sweet without much else to make them interesting. The main advantage that red and white mulberries have over the black varieties is that they are hardier. The black mulberries are Mediterranean natives and don't tolerate as much cold. I had a black mulberry tree in my previous garden and I miss that fruit more than any other.
Figs are one of my favorite fruits also. It pains me to have to buy them. The Panache fig is a green and yellow striped fig with strawberry red pulp. It's delicious and impossible to find in stores or even farmer's markets. I had a tree 2 gardens ago that produced wonderful fruit. I can't wait to try this variety again.
Violette De Bordeaux (Negronne) fig
I was rather surprised when I pulled this little tree out of the package, it's only about a foot tall and as thick as a pencil. This is a new variety of fig for me. The fruit is supposed to be very much like the Mission variety which is a very popular variety here in California. My mother has a huge Mission fig tree in her back yard, it's been there since I was very young, a long time. I have very fond memories of eating those figs straight off the tree. The Mission fig is a very vigorous and huge tree, not suitable for my garden. Since the Violette De Bordeaux is supposed to bear fruit that is very similar to the Mission, but is a smaller tree that also needs less heat I decided to give it a try. I hope this little baby takes off...
I chose this variety of pomegranate because it is both a low chill variety and it needs less heat to ripen. The fruit is sweeter than the "Wonderful" variety which is the most common commercial variety. It's also a smaller growing tree than most pomegranates. All those factors seemed to make it a good candidate for my garden. The proof will be in the fruit...
In closing, here's another shot of my incredibly fruitful Meyer lemon tree. It seems like I'm constantly picking and using lemons, but it seems I've hardly made a dent.