Mary's Veggie Garden

August 5, 2013

Harvest Monday 8/5/2013: Cherries!

Filed under: Cherries,Fruit — marysveggiegarden @ 4:25 pm
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This is a first for me: cherries harvested from my garden! I’ve been harvesting these little beauties for about a week now – straight from the bush to my mouth.

Bush cherry harvest: the berries are a smidgen smaller than a dime. Seeds are the size of those in sweet cherries.

Bush cherry harvest: the berries are a smidgen smaller than a dime.

The plants are bush cherries: Prunus jacquemonti x japonica  ‘Joy’ and ‘Joel’. I have one of each variety and I don’t know which is which because the labels got separated from the plants early in their life. Two varieties are necessary for pollination.

Bush cherries in bloom 3/26/2012

Bush cherries in bloom 3/26/2012

The bushes blossom profusely in the early spring: the last week of March last year in the mid-Hudson Valley. There is a heavy fruit set – almost every blossom must set fruit.

Young bush cherry fruit  5/29/2013

Young bush cherry fruit 5/29/2013

Last year I had a problem:  all the cherries disappeared while still green.  It happened gradually but by late July there was only a hand full of berries remaining. Last year there were lots of chipmunks – three or four all summer. I blamed them (I know they were eating all my cherry tomatoes) and resolved to net the bushes this year.

This spring I feared the worst. While planting peppers in the bed next to the cherries I found several clusters of 15-20 seeds buried in the soil.

Green bush cherries found planted in the garden.

Green bush cherries found planted in the garden 5/29/2013.

Comparing the buried seeds to the green cherries on the bushes, I am certain a chipmunk (or possibly a squirrel) was helping me by thinning the green cherries and planting them for later consumption.

Well, I never did get around to netting the bushes. But this year, at least, it doesn’t seem to matter. Both the squirrel and chipmunk populations seem to have crashed and there is only one chipmunk lurking in the garden. (Yeah, Coopers Hawks!)

Bush cherries ripening August 1.

Bush cherries ripening August 1.

Flavor: these cherries are mouth-puckering tart if harvested early. The cherries should be left to ripen to dark red on all sides when they develop their sweetness. If the cherry pulls off easily it is ready – and will be sweet-tart, good to eat. The cherries at the 9-11 o’clock positions in the first picture are under-ripe. I should have looked at the bottom before harvesting.

The two cherry bushes  fill a space about 10' wide.

The two cherry bushes fill a space about 10′ wide.

Growing: The bushes seem happy where they are growing. I planted them in a part of the garden that is too shady for most vegetables, next to my east fence where they get shade until 11 AM.  The soil is a loamy clay with a pH of 7.0-7.2.

Problems: Clearly something is nibbling on the leaves – but it isn’t severe enough to bother me. Of more concern are the shriveled cherries in the picture below. (Click on the picture to enlarge.) It could simply be a watering problem. July was very dry, trees are near by, and I haven’t been watering the bushes.

Shriveled cherries - too dry or a problem?

Shriveled cherries – too dry or a problem?

I looked at these berries with a magnifying glass. It doesn’t look like brown rot so I’m hoping better watering will solve the problem next year.

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3 Comments »

  1. I’ve never had a bush cherry, but they look good.

    Comment by Daphne — August 5, 2013 @ 4:48 pm | Reply

  2. I have never heard of bush cherries! They look great! We planted two cherry trees some thirty years ago and have never seen a single ripe cherry from them. The birds always got the few fruits way before they turned red and after awhile we just gave up even tending to the trees.

    Comment by Patsy — August 5, 2013 @ 8:52 pm | Reply

  3. I would love to try brush cherries but that would be inviting more critters into the garden, not a good idea.

    Comment by Norma Chang — August 6, 2013 @ 7:28 pm | Reply


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