Today, I’m excited to introduce my guest from Tara Austen Weaver who’s written a book about growing
Growing Berries and Fruit Trees in the Pacific Northwest: How to Grow Abundant, Organic Fruit in Your Backyard
I know that you are going to love this because it’s got lots of great tips for anyone living anywhere not just in the Northwest and I’m super excited because last summer I was visiting Nola’s yard last summer because her blueberries were amazing and I am bound and determined to grow some this year! And there’s just so much to learn so welcome to the show!
My mom had a giant organic garden!
I guess I’m sort of a second generation gardener I actually grew up not really liking to garden I liked playing and running around but weeding seemed like drudgery to me!
I have all these very visceral memories of just being out in the garden and sunshine, my mom would pop cherry tomatoes into our mouths when we were kids, because we just picked it in the sunshine!
fruit that was warm from a tree
So I have all these really positive memories of being in a garden but not doing any work!
I was living in San Francisco in my late 20s, early 30s
I remember one year for my birthday I got the idea to build these window boxes ~ I had gotten into cooking. I wanted to grow herbs.
It is so irritating to buy a whole bunch of parsley when you just need a sprig.
I lugged these boxes home and I’m dangling out this window and holding this heavy drill and I got them put up and filled them with soil and nestled my tiny little herbs and was so so pleased!
Then within a week or two, I noticed the sage leaves had this kind of white stuff on it. I was concerned and I lived on the foggy side of the city and thought oh my is this is fungus or blight on my herbs and when I went to investigate I discovered it was pigeon poop and I realized I wasn’t gonna be a gardener in the city.
It wasn’t till I moved to Seattle about 10 years ago that everything fell into place, Seattle has such a giant gardening community!
Everyone here it seems even if they just grow beautiful yards edible ones and everyone is out working and tending vegetables
For the last 9 years we have been collaborating
there were 9 fruit trees on the property but they were engulfed in blackberries
adding to it ever since
We have 20 fruit trees now
12 different types of blueberries
lots of annual vegetable gardens
I’m obsessed with my dahlia patch and also interested in flowers to support pollinators.
So, are you following Erin Benzakein’s blog at Floret? She’s really big into dahlias. I tried to grow some last year but I must have buried them too deep because they never grew. I’m gonna have to try that again next summer.
I’ve enjoyed your story here. I’ve been painting pictures of Paris, and there are so many window boxes in Paris it’s interesting to think about growing in the city. Plus I’ve been reading this very strange children’s book about pigeons, there’s like a place in Pennsylvania where they have a live pigeon shoot. Anyway…
I think my situation in San Fransisco, my neighbor fed the pigeons
lots of ones going back and forth and they would nestle down so that seems like a nonstarter.
With a half acre, I do have a few things in pots, that keeps me more then busy
I do have a a few window boxes on the deck, I mostly grow my basil, so I walk past it multiple times a day to keep an eye if it needs water.
we are not suited to
These are my California roots but I’m attempting to grow a lemon in Seattle.
My mom grew a Meyer lemon in NY. It’s funny my memory post on Facebook was a pic of her plate of lemons in NY. People are growing them indoors, she was gonna send us one.
actually have a section on growing citrus in the NW
I know a lot of people are interested there’s a nursery on victoria I think they are called
They do an amazing job with
and all sorts of things shouldn’t be grown in their climate.
They have this approach where they plant them on walls on the south side
coldest winters they give just the small amount of heat to keep them growing enough they have citrus all year long.
They have some videos on their website! It’s really worth checking out because it’s very inspirational!
We’ll have to check that out!
I’m coming off not a fantastic garden year, because I moved this spring! I wasn’t thinking it through thinking I could move and garden and that didn’t really happen!
let grow wild
this is true in any gardening year, some years one things does really well and another year it was another thing that do really well
So because I wasn’t growing as much, I ended up paying more attention to some things like my basil crop! I had time to pinch it back and ended up getting like 5 crops of basil! I made into pesto and ended up with a freezer full of pesto
couple of things
I usually plant a lot of winter squash
but I didn’t have the band with for it
The benefit of having a lighter gardening year that I had the time and energy in the fall to put the garden to bed well, focus on soil fertility for next year
We have neighbors that clean out the goat barn and I did use that bedding and that material that is going to breakdown over the winter!
I am already looking forward to a good season next year!
I think that is so important. Some years things go great and other times you maybe change your focus. In 2018 my motto was Life happens for you not to you and focuing on accomplishments and what did get done!
I was gonna say that is one of the situations that makes me so gratified to make the berry bushes and inspired me to write this book because you can have an off year and they don’t mind
I have a busy life and in the summer I also like to go hiking. I am really really interested in those things that don’t need as much help and tending as lettuce and peas do
those twelve blueberry bushes were fine and asked nothing of me!
The fruit trees the same, we do our winter pruning and they are really pretty much on their own and give and give and give
Fruit trees is kind of being like an aunt and uncle, you have to putting in some face time but nothing like a parent and so for minimal effort the berries are the same
The reward to effort ratio is 1000%
I agree 100 percent. I feel like you that I like to go hiking, I usually teach full time and only can hike in the summer. And I almost always work full time if there are so many days I don’t even get home till after dark and won’t see the garden for a week.
But I talk a lot on my show about if I had to start from scratch I would put a lot of raspberry bushes and fruit in. I’m always surprised how prolific you are and how much fruit you get back. I was talking to someone the other day about how much time Mike puts into growing green beans is insane. I’m very excited about the perennial garden idea!
I have some friends who had a house with an old pear try
prune them back and clear them out
I warn people a little bit you can get big harvests and be prepared for them
overwhelmed in the fall
attracting the yellow jackets
Ended up not knowing what to do with it and they got so many flies, so they dug a whole and berried all of these pears!
They didn’t know what to do with a glut of tree fruit
you can make with any fruit
pears or apples in the fall
I really lean on those recipes
and preserve it
When you get that much you can’t give it all away
something with it
so we can enjoy it throat the winter
states that a
countries that are far away
Because I became a food person and food writer so I thought that was an important balance
good ways to grow it and great ways to use it up
not a bad problem to have
You’re so right! I always end up feeling guilty if I don’t take care of things or let things go, then the next year I would think should I grow that. We have chickens now, which helps a bit. Mike also canned apple sauce this year we had so many apples which was great because he bakes with a lot of apple sauce to make his cookies etc softer. The apple sauce itself was delicious!
something that can take
quality of what you grow yourself is so much better then you can get at the store, and honestly sometimes even the farmer’s market as they’re picking ahead of time to get at market
picking your own strawberries first thing in the morning!
It’s true a strawberry or raspberry you put in your mouth in the garden is not like anything else!
the other thing people don’t realize
commercial growers grow certain varieties because they stand up to transport that will stand up on the shelf.
There are a lot of amazing varieties that don’t get grown commercially because they are just too fragile.
not grown commercially
They really need to be processed within 24 hours
They have the most amazing flavor
There are farmers who grow them and take them to the farmers market but you have to buy them and eat them that day
if you are used to
friend who was a big proponent of Shushkan strawberries and he brought a group of food writers on a sort of a tasting trip
And one of the writers tasted one and said if this is a strawberry what I have I ben eating all my life?
12 different types of blueberries
big and juicy
high bush and low bush blue berries
you get out of Maine a bit smaller
don’t see those in the supermarket
People want those big plump juicy berries!
But compared to these small flavorful ones.
my favorites and other people favorite varieties recommended
You have to make sure they grow in your growing zone but there is a whole world out to explore!
I’m glad you said that, because after I tasted Nola’s blueberries I was like I am never going to pick another huckleberry again, but the one thing I bake is huckleberry coffee cake I don’t think it will take as good with large berries.
the low bush blueberries, the smaller more flavorful ones are suited to colder climates.
That would make sense because you said they came out of Maine right.
They grow best along the US Canadian border.
well I feel like I actually had a slower gardening season next year so I have a jump on this year and I have my fava beans in already!
My favas are already 4 inches tall
growing tomatoes from seed
pretty good plant sales