From Shoot to Fruit
The fruit harvest for 2010 is now over. With the vast array of fresh crisp apples currently in season at the market or local orchard, now is when many people suddenly remember that they wanted to plant out that home orchard but never got around to it. Did you get your fruit trees planted this spring? Or is it still a dream waiting to happen? The best time to plant was last year (fruit trees take a few years to grow before bearing a good crop). If you are part of the group reading this and realize that you COULD HAVE, WOULD HAVE, SHOULD HAVE but somehow the time slipped away, then the next best time to plant is spring 2011.
Now is the time to plan out what you want to grow and how many. Spring is always a busy season so best to prepare now. How many trees do you have room for? What kinds of fruit (apple, plum, pear, cherry, peach)? For spring 2011, we will have a good selection of container grown fruit trees available. All carefully chosen varieties on suitable rootstocks, so they will perform well for our area of the country.
How did my fruits grow this year? It was a good year but challenging. The warm spring temperatures we encountered led to a very early spring. Most fruits bloomed earlier and also ripened about 12 days ahead of normal schedule. My apples bloomed nicely but then got hit with a hard frost resulting in a small crop. With so few apples on the trees, the fruits grew to gigantic proportions which partly made up for the reduced number. Luckily, my other fruits escaped the frost and bore well.
Yes my harvest is over for the season but the feasting still goes on. Some of the cherries were made into jam to be enjoyed each morning but most got pitted and froze to wait for a quieter season (winter) when time will permit them to be turned into cobblers, pies and kringle. Some of the peaches made it into pie tins for peach pie and others got stuffed into quart canning jars to be preserved for later use. I find that a quart of home grown and canned peaches makes a great and fast dessert for friends and family that unexpectedly stop in to visit. I wish the 2 bushel of pears had made it into the canning jars as intended, but some unforeseen events occurred (the trout were biting). Perhaps next year time will prevail.
Next year will also tell how well my little chip budded apple trees turn out. This past July, Johnson’s Nursery put on a fantastic seminar on propagating apple trees by chip budding. Those who participated in this informative, hands-on seminar got to propagate 6 trees of their choice (scionwood available for numerous apple varieties) and take them home afterwards as the rootstocks used were in containers. I tried my skill at budding 4 different apples to add to my home orchard. Shown here are two photos of this attempt. One shows the buds wrapped in grafting tape after budding onto the potted rootstocks. The other shows how the buds look in early October when the tape was removed. Next spring I will find out how successful I am as an amateur propagator. I will keep you posted with the results.
Shown here are several photos of my fruit crops this year. Yes you can do it too! It takes time but growing your own fruit can be a very satisfying experience. Do your site planning now. Stop in next spring and our staff will be happy to assist you in making your fruit tree selections. Make your dream of home grown fruit come true.
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.