Relishing the Pits of July
July is here. Time for the pits of summer. Hot, dusty, dry, mosquitoes, deer flies, etc. No wait! That is the wrong list. I really mean the pits that I so relish each July. Cherry pits. And lots of them. The best sight in July is watching those cherry pits tumble out of the pitter as each luscious, mouthwatering red cherry drops into my bowl waiting to be turned into pies, cobblers and jam.
In my home orchard, I currently have 2 different tart cherry varieties. At one time I grew 4 different varieties. You can never have too many cherries so the more the better. Besides, I’ve never met a cherry I did not like regardless of variety. Some ripen earlier than others, some are darker or lighter red in skin color, some are smaller than others but all taste just superb. Yes variety is the spice of life.
For 2016 I netted my cherries around June 19th just as they were starting to turn pink. I learned my lesson years ago. Net at the first sign of pink or the birds will strip your tree clean in just a few days. Birds are the major pest issue for any cherry grower no difference if commercial or home fruit grower.
This year’s crop was fantastic! My family and I pitted and froze 8 quarts and then shared the rest of our crop with extended family. I would estimate the total yield from my two trees came to about 16-18 quarts. Not bad considering one of my trees is still young.
Cherries were so popular here at Johnson’s Nursery this past spring that we sold out for a while. Now being late July, we are stocked again with 2 varieties of tart cherries (North Star & Sweet Cherry Pie) and one sweet cherry variety (Lapins - self-pollinating). It is not too late to plant a cherry tree of your own so you too can enjoy the “Pits of July”.
Paul Schwabe is a salesman in our Contractor Sales division. He holds a degree in horticulture and will be writing about some of his favorite and underused plants.