A Great Maine secret (and coming soon)

John Clark here. If you’ve followed the blog for any length of time, you are aware that there’s a connection between writing and gardening for several of us. Kate and I come by it naturally. Our father had a degree in horticulture and Mom was a garden writer and plant adventurer for years (she even has a tomato named Sennebec that she discovered in her garden).

We couldn't make the sale this year, so we grew our own

We couldn’t make the sale this year, so we grew our own

While I hated gardening as a kid (getting assigned weeding as your first plant related experience tends to do that), I’ve embraced it more and more as time has gone on. Last year, for example, I took on the enjoyable task of revamping and stocking my neighbor’s small flower garden across the street. This year, Beth and I agreed it was time to get a decent home greenhouse, so I looked around online and with son-in-law Russ’ help, have a really nice 8×6′ redwood frame greenhouse that’s full of seeds in containers ready to go.

When we moved to Hartland 13 years ago, one of my discoveries was the annual Fedco tree sale. Over the years, I have come to understand that it’s as much a cultural event as it is a great opportunity to get Maine hardy trees, vines, canes and organically grown set plants. The parking lot fills up early and quickly. Before it was moved to the current location, it was an adventure just to park as both sides of the rural road were lined with cars for half a mile in either direction. Since it moved to the present location (see link below) parking and access have gotten much easier.


It’s the kind of event where you see people you haven’t had a chance to chat with for ages, or get to know new and often interesting ones while waiting in line, learn about new varieties of fruits and discover ones you never knew grew in Maine. Several years ago, I bought twenty everbearing raspberry canes. They fruited the first year, doing so well I went back the next two years to get more. The third time, they were our of the red variety we liked, so I took a flier on Anne, a gold everbearing type that have turned into such a prolific producer we end up freezing much of the harvest and enjoy them in pancakes and ice cream smoothies all winter long.

Ultra sweet and big, big, big.

Ultra sweet and big, big, big.

This year I’m going to be conservative. We have no more room for raspberries, but deer consumed one of the cherry trees I bought last year, so I’ll replace that and maybe add an apricot. The good news for you readers is that the sale is next Friday and Saturday, so that gives you time to take advantage of it. Here’s what Downeast Magazine said last year when they named the sale a Best Springtime tradition: “It’s just two days in late April or early May, but ever since 1984, the annual Fedco Tree Sale has been a red-letter event for Mainers with a green thumb. The Fedco warehouses just off I-95 in Clinton are filled with apple, peach, pear, plum, cherry, and nut tree saplings, plus blueberry bushes, rootstock, and vines, and close to 3,000 folks come from all over the state to shop and visit with friends they may not see again until the Common Ground Country Fair. It’s a rite of spring. 213 Hinckley Rd., Clinton. 207-426-9900. fedcoseeds.com

So good you can have lunch while picking them come late July.

So good you can have lunch while picking them come late July.

Hope to see some of you there, but if you want the best selection, go on Friday and browse the online catalog (http://www.fedcoseeds.com/trees/) in advance to create a wish list so you won’t be disappointed.

If you're coming from the Eastport area, we'd love to hitch a ride.

If you’re coming from the Eastport area, we’d love to hitch a ride.

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