Uncommon Fruits Worthy of Attention by Lee Reich

I’ve been thinking more about digging up even bigger pieces of my yard to plant some more fruit trees. I’ve got three already, but why stop there? In my quick lunch-break browsing at the library, I came across Uncommon Fruits Worthy of Attention and flipped through it. It instantly won my attention with a whole chapter on black currants, and other chapters on red currants and jostaberries.

Each chapter covers a truly uncommon fruit (never seen in grocery stores, and only once in a blue moon seen at farmers markets) ranging from Maypops to Cornelian Cherries to Goumi. Each chapter is divided into sections: First, the author explains why the fruit is worth cultivating, the  describes the growing habits, how to grow it best, how to propagate seeds or cuttings, and finally, it describes many of the cultivars for each species.

The only downside of the book is that it was published in 1991, so there are surely more and better cultivars available. However, the fruits described are so uncommon, that the pace for these new cultivars couldn’t possibly be that quick. In all, it’s an excellent resource.

As I think more about my garden, it’s nice to know that there are a lot of fruiting shrubs that are productive, grow very nutritious and tasty fruit, and are ornamental as well. As much as I hate it, I only have 1/10 acre to work with, so shrubs that can multitask as fruit bearers got my attention quickly. When we planted the front yard foundation planting, we left room between the hydrangeas for three taller shrubs to add more visual interest. This book gave me some great ideas, ranging from goumi (a tasty relative of the rather invasive Russian olive) to Juneberry/serviceberry/saskatoon. Searching for these varieties led me to a couple of other options, like Aronia  and Sea Buckthorn.

I may try to add a tiny orchard to the east side of my house either this fall or early next spring. That area gets a fair amount of sun, and is also pretty sheltered, and currently, the space is taken up by nothing more than mint and weeds.