The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Not all homegrown fruit is created equally

Early Transparent

Bowl of berriesThis is the first year we've been awash in homegrown fruit, and one of the things I'm noticing is that small changes in growing methods result in large changes in fruit flavor.  For example, we have two rows of Caroline red raspberries, one in full sun in poor soil and one in partial sun in good soil.  The latter produced fewer berries, but their flavor was exceptionally good, while the plants in poor soil churned out plenty of berries with only good flavor.

Virginia Beauty

Then there are the apples.  I specifically included one variety in my high-density planting that was also getting ready to bear in the forest garden so we could see if the production method influenced flavor of the fruit.  The high-density Yellow Transparent apples ripened about a week earlier than those in the forest garden and were quite tasty.  And then we sampled the forest garden fruit --- wow!  Such a rich flavor!  It's still pretty amazing to be able to eat homegrown apples in one year (and to try out lots of different varieties in a small space), but over the long haul, it's definitely also worth putting in larger trees with complex soil management if you want the more intricate flavors.

Liberty apple

Basket of peachesMy final observation came with our peaches.  Even though I prune our trees hard and thin religiously, a few fruits still ended up closer together or deep in the shade of the tree and remained small.  These small peaches ripened a little later than the big, beautiful peaches, and they were only a fraction as sweet.  I'd actually be tempted to thin out the partially-shaded peaches in later years to let the tree put all its energy into the prime fruits in the outer canopy --- they were that much better.

All of that said, even the worst of our fruit this year has tasted much better than store bought.  Still, if we can produce yet more delicious fruit with just a few management changes, why not do it?

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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I suspect this is the challenge with my mother's raspberries. I remember them as being wonderfully flavorful. My aunt has mentioned the last couple of years that my mother's raspberries lack full flavor. Since the plants are the same, my hypothesis is that it isn't the genetic potential which is lacking, but something in the production and management system.
Comment by Charity Sun Jul 21 12:27:07 2013

Hi Anna and Mark,

Korea natural farming suggests that a few foliar feedings of FFJ (fermented fruit juice) and sea water greatly enhance taste toward the end of fruit growth. Please see and the links on that site for more details of what they have found works well.

warm regards to you both, John

Comment by john Sun Jul 21 14:12:41 2013

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