Last year I went on the Orchard Tour at One Green World in October. This year I won’t be around for the October 11th tour, so I went on the September tour yesterday instead. I ended up going solo – just my travel mug and some motown music. It was a lovely drive to Molalla, Oregon, and I am glad no one could hear me singing my heart out in the car.
The tour did not disappoint, which is no surprise. It was a beautiful day and I spent it outside around plants – couldn’t be happier. There were different fruits available for tasting than there were at the October tour last year. Everything is also about a month behind, with the late frost in Oregon this season, but there was still plenty to sample.
The cornelian cherries were a real treat for me, since I am growing one of the red ones and one of the yellow ones. As far as varieties go, the Red Dawn seemed the best which is a red variety. I was told they were picked a little under ripe though, again because of the late frost. But they wanted to make them available despite that.
What next? Oh, arctic kiwis. Man, they were good! I am growing hardy kiwis, which are slightly smaller than the fuzzy kind, but you eat them whole so I think it’s a wash. The arctic kiwis grow in shade and can have variegated leaves. They taste like a lovely, sweet kiwi which is also eaten whole. I was surprised at whole small they were though! They look more like a berry, maybe slighly smaller than a plump grape. Anything that grows in the shade and produces fruit is a winner in my mind though.
Ten different grapes were out for tasting. Not all of them are currently carried by One Green World, but they wanted to get people’s feedback to see if they should start carrying some. Personally, I think Candice was a great all around table grape. It’s very crisp, a lightly red color, and very sweet. And, although this is an odd comment, biting into them sends a flash of my childhood through my mind. We grew a green grape with a similar flavor and it brings those warm memories rushing back through my mind with every bite.
They also had out some plums to try, but I was disappointed to learn they are not currently offering the “Mirabelle” variety. It’s pictured to the left, very small, but you pop the whole thing in your mouth so it’s very easy to eat. It has a lovely, sweet flavor without the bitter skin flavor I find with most plums. I also feel like plums can be a little watery as well, and there was none of that with Mirabelle.
Apples and asian pears also graced the tables. There must have been about a dozen varieties of apples. I marked in their catalog which ones I liked, but there were several. The tour began shortly after this smorgasbord of fruit sampling.
Without trying to repeat too much of what I wrote about last year, my strongest take away was “Holy shit, my plants are going to get huge!” When you plant starts, of even 1-3 year old saplings, it’s easy to forget how big they are going to grow in a few years. The benefit of that realization was that perhaps I didn’t need to buy quite as many plants to “fill in” our landscape. Planting annual veggies in the open spaces will be a good strategy to cover the bare earth until those perennials spread their branches.
I want to just highlight a couple interesting plants that have captured by fancy. First off, I want a couple Pineapple Gauva shrubs. They are a wonderful evergreen shrub that flowers in July and provides fruit when few others are available: late-November/early-December. As you can imagine from the name, the fruit tastes like guava with a hint of pineapple. The plant comes from South America and is drought-tolerant, but is easily adaptable to a range of climates, including out wet and mild Pacific NW weather. Birds pollinate the flowers in South America by eating their petals, which are apparently quite tasty with a slight cinnamon flavor.
Another plant I am absolutely obsessed with is the jujube tree. Jujubes are much more popular in Asia, where they are often dried and candied. These small trees grow about 5-6″ tall once fully mature. They have these graceful, contorted branches that form a lovely slightly weeping growth habit. Jay was not impressed by the fruit last fall, but I was. It’s not really sweet, but it’s very crisp, the size of an olive, with a slightly apple taste. They are green in this picture, but turn a rich brown later in the fall when they are ready to be harvested. They seem like the kind of thing I could snack on all day and not feel guilty about – and that goes a long way with me.
This post is getting long, so I will wrap it up. Plus, I have a huge batch of asian pear butter simmering on the stove, which I am totally suppose to be stirring right now. Anyways, if you are around for the October date and you like unusual plants, you should go to their next tour! I was disappointed to learn that most of what is in their catalog is not available for purchase right now, so I didn’t buy a single thing. But I am taking that as a blessing in disguise since that buys me more time to save up for those pricey jujubes 🙂