Atlanta Fruitman’s Blog

Much maligned mulberry
June 16, 2009, 2:57 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

My Mulberries are coming in nicely this year. I get enough to add to my breakfast cereal. I guess I could save them up and make a tart or small pie, but often I just like then off the tree. The birds seem to like them even more than me and get most of them, but I still get a share.


I often wonder if most people have had a good mulberry before. I had a number of people ask me what they were.  Some people call them tree blackberries (which I find amusing). The people I do meet (who are not fruit growers) that have tried a mulberry are only familiar with a wild insipid one they may find in the yard. “It’s a big fast growing weed tree” the say, “You got one, you got them everywhere”. “ It stains the driveway and my dog’s fur”. Yes, it will do all of that; not that I was really concerned with the color of my driveway there are plenty of things form other plant material and my car that I do a better job of that (but that’s just me). The results of this is most are chopped down before given a chance to prove them selves. I just think people are missing a good opportunity here to explore.  There are some wonderful tasting mulberries out there that are wild and unfound. The trees are “no-care” and very productive.  I guess that what makes them weeds. Don’t get me wrong, there are many bad ones out there, in fact most are. A bad mulberry should be chopped down (or used as a rootstock for a good one), but good one in the right place deserves to be saved and passed on. There are cultivated one out there in the nursery trade, not to many compared to the common fruits, but there are a selection – there need to be more though. That selected variety could be growing in the back of your yard or right now. These this the perfect place to go exploring for them.

One of the reasons that mulberries are so prolific here is one of the first Georgia crops were mulberries trees. The effort was to try to compete with the Chinese silk trade.  The Chinese were very secretive of their operations.  Any spies or suspected spies no matter if local or forign born were killed on sight, so the Georgians had to try it by hit-and-miss. They first had the wrong type of mulberry, then they discovered the worms didn’t like the environment as much, they could not get the operation going on a level to be profitable, so they gave up.  One of the results is that we have a native and non-native mulberry here that hybridizes easily.  Don’t ask me which is which, I get confused.  I even here different rendition of the silk story, but we have a large selection of mulberries as a result. There are actually thought to be something like 5 different specie (maybe including sub specie) of mulberries. The gem of all (for taste) seems to be the Morus nigra Black mulberry. For some reason it doesn’t seem to grow well in the east.  One expert friend of mine seems to think it is a disease issue. I have tasted some of those and they are wonderful, but we do have respectable ones here.

But I degrees…

The point I was trying to make is to keep you eyes (and mouth) open and share what you have.  More real gems are out there, and each has their own character. Not much research has been done on the fruit that I know of, but I have to wonder if there a number of nutritional components contained in the fruit. The fruit doesn’t seem to suffer form fungal problems like other fruits here even in the damp, also the staining aspect of the fruit may suggest high antioxidant levels.  This is a shot in the dark, based in a chemist friend of mine but I cant imagine there is anything that harmful.
So you ask, why out of all the bad trees out there you think someone will find a keeper, because it happen to me TWICE.  I found 2 trees, though I have yet to say are nursery trade quality, I thought were a worth keeping. The story of one is written about previously (in a most unusual location) and the other one was at a friend’s house. A tree next to her house that she was sure about and was going to cut it down, till I tasted the fruit. I asked her to try it, and she decided just to trim it instead. The family added the berries to their cereal there on out. I took a cutting and gated it to a wild seedling and it is now growing in my yard.

Of course new trees will pop up form time to time as birds art the fruit and poop – it wont be an invasion.  Also the valued tree may be against the house a bad place.  If not pruned, they will get big an out of control. Just root a piece a move it somewhere else or give cutting to someone who really wants it.

Once the tree is gone its gone.


June 1, 2009, 10:44 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Here is little known fruit (in this area at least) that need more attention. Its one of the few temperate evergreen fruit bushes  around, so it is perfect for a single bush or a wind break. The another common name for it is Pineapple Guava.  It is not a true Guava that you would see in tropical markets, but is still part of the myrtle family. Dont let the name fool you it is a cold hardy bush. I have never seen any real damage to it around my house and I know some people are growing them north Georgia.  Some leaves will burn on the end when we go down to single digits, but I always get a new flush of leaves in the spring. The bush can be pruned to a short hedge or trimmed to a small tree. The leaves are similar to a Camellia but have a frosted look to them. The flowers have white-lavender fleshy petals and red stamens and yellow tips. The petals are even slightly sweet and minty flavored. The fruit looks like small aromatic green torpedoes with a taste that is sweetly acid. Some say it is a mix of strawberry and pineapple, but I think it has taste all its own.  It is a great fruit for salads and salsa or just fresh. Some people eat just the inside witch is more sweet, others will eat the skin and all which have a more sharp flavor. The seeds are tiny and unoticable like kiwis.

It is a very low care bush. I have never done anything to it.  I will occasionally take brush an dab the flowers, so I am sure I get the best pollination, but it may not be necessary. You will need two bushes to get fruit.  I have never sprayed, watered or even covered the bush, and I am always rewarded with a few bushels of fruit every year -even during the drought years (the fruit were just smaller). The squirrels or birds dont seem to like it. I dont know if they even know it is there. The fruit stays green even when it is most ripe and at a distance may be hard to see on the bush. You know it is ripe when the fruit falls to the ground.  This happens around late October early November here.

I am thinking about them now because I just picked a bunch of flower petels to make mild flavored wine…so actually you could say you get two crops out of the bush! I have made a very distinctive flavored wine out of the fruit as well lst year. This has to be one of the top fruit trees in the yard.