C is for Cherries

I’m only on C and I continue to marvel at all of our possibilities in the garden here in San Jose: The Valley of Heart’s Delight. It’s just not fair! We get to grow and eat the coolest food. If we could have grown successful cherries in San Diego, my father would have grown an orchard. He LOVED cherries; he got so excited during that small window of time in the summer when we could buy them. Funny the things we remember about our childhood.

I HAD to get a cherry tree. Cherry trees require a certain amount of chill hours AND another tree for cross-pollination. When my kid is older, she might not get to grow cherries. It’s true; the climate is changing and it is affecting where we can grow certain crops, especially stone fruit. (Stone fruit includes plums, peaches, apricots, nectarines, and cherries.) After researching which variety did well in our area, I chose a self-fertile Bing. I’m not sure if another variety is grafted on making it a self-fertile plant, or what. Since we have another cherry tree on the property line, it doesn’t matter; our cherries are cross-pollinated.

This poor tree. I’ve moved it several times, ripping it out of the ground carelessly. I even tried giving it away. I stuck the tree back into a different location. I began to have reservations about the space a tree requires versus the amount of fruit it yields. Space is at a premium here! And we have a new pest in the area spotted wing drosophila. This tiny fruit fly attacks ripe fruit by puncturing the fruit and laying eggs. Essentially, it deposits larva (aka maggots) in harvest-ready fruit. Anyhow, nobody wanted my pitiful cherry tree. Lo and behold it produced the best cherries I’ve ever tasted this year. Gardens are like that. Abuse and neglect can create the strongest plants (just ask my Concord grapes.)

Because I don’t want the tree to get too big, I cut it immediately after I harvest. The tree stands as tall as I do, about 5’5″. Harvesting equals me standing under the tree each day shoving as many cherries as I can in my mouth until there are no more. There’s little point in letting a cherry tree get any taller than you can reach. That just invites the birds to eat them. And if you leave cherries out there trying to stretch your yield to one more day, you’ll end up eating maggots. Greedy is good under the cherry tree.

My kid has decided that she doesn’t like cherries. I was okay with that this year. I’m kind of hoping she doesn’t like them again next spring, but I find that unlikely.

About master kindergardener

Santa Clara County Master Gardener since 2007, Mom since 2009, Gardener since birth.
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2 Responses to C is for Cherries

  1. Aimee says:

    I agree…LOVE cherries. Are you canning/preserving all your excess fruits and veggies?

  2. With cherries, there is no excess. In order to preserve, I usually dehydrate. I just oven-dried figs and I wish I could give you one through the computer lines! They are SO good. I dehydrate apricots and apples, too. The neighbors brought bags of plums, and we made jam. The peaches, I cut up and put in food saver bags in the freezer. I think I’ll make sorbet with peaches. I won’t eat jams or pies, but could use them for smoothies. But I’m on an ice cream kick right now. I made grape and mulberry ice cream this summer. What can you grow in the way of fruit out there?

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