by Karen Ball
I love cherries. If I could only have one fruit, that would be it. But not just any cherry. When we first moved into our home here in Southern Oregon, we planted a cherry tree. At the time, I knew what kind of tree it was. But the little tag identifying it has long since vanished. All I know is that our cherries are a rich, dark red on the outside, like a Bing cherry. But unlike a Bing, the meat inside is a light red, and the taste is a blend of sweet and tart. I’ve canned these cherries as pie filling, brandy cherry sauce, preserves, any a number of other wonderful concoctions. And they all taste marvelous. That blend of sweet and tart is perfect.
It took us a couple of years to learn what to do with that tree to get it to produce healthy cherries. One year, there was no fruit at all. We’d done everything right, but…nada. I was heartbroken. The next year, a modest production of cherries. But no sooner were they ready to harvest then the birds flocked in. They had that tree stripped in a day. One day, and all my beautiful cherries were gone. That’s the year I learned about putting netting over the tree. The next year, cherries galore. All of them infested with little white worms. That’s the year I found out about spraying the right substances at the right time. The next two years, it was as though the tree was making up for lost time. Cherries, cherries everywhere! And then last year, when we had record rains, the cherries were ready to pick almost a month early. Not only that, but they were huge and even more flavorful than ever before. And we picked close to 25 gallons. Yup, you read that right. Twenty-Five gallons. I still have probably a third of what I put up from last year’s cherries.