Then, slowly, brave berries followed suit, first with leaves, then small, white blossoms — currants and honeyberries, chokecherries and blueberries. The sour cherry was right on their heels, a step ahead of the gooseberries and black raspberries. Already the strawberries have opened their first flowers.
Each day brings new friends returning to life — even the grapevine that my mentor was convinced had given up the ghost. All five vines have some greenery emerging, albeit to varying degrees. But if, as he suggested, the two vines hit hardest by the cold spells have to spend the season recovering without producing fruit, that’s a price I’m willing to pay.
On the other hand, we’re back to square one with sweet cherries. The BlackGold, which produced two cherries enjoyed by the birds last summer, isn’t showing any signs of life. Neither is the Black Tartarian we planted last spring.
At least Stark Bros., which late last year absorbed Canandaigua’s Miller Nurseries, has agreed to honor Miller’s warranty and send us a replacement. We’re on our own for the BlackGold.
I think this will have to be our last attempt. Growing our own sweet cherries just may not be in the cards, since we can’t seem to keep a tree alive for longer than two years.
The asparagus, though, are sprouting fresh shoots as quickly as I can cut them. Each morning I look out the window at the raised bed and am greeted with new growth. This weekend, we plan to blanch and freeze a batch or two so we can add these tender green spears to soups and frittatas next winter.
The rhubarb, growing equally fast on the other end of the same bed, has already graced our table as sweet bread — and received the seal of approval from Kevin’s grandmother. She wasn’t impressed by the homemade cinnamon rolls and blueberry muffins for our Mother’s Day brunch, but she made sure the rhubarb bread found its way into her “take-home” container.
It’s gratifying to be eating once again from the garden, and to know that in just a few short weeks, all of the current blooms will have morphed into essential fruit.