New Fruit tree varieties by Joey Sparks
With these cold winter months ahead many gardeners are eager to get back outside and work on projects. Bare Root Fruit tree season is here! So many great varieties of fruit trees are available this time of year that become harder to find during the rest of the growing season. While we carry all of the classic favorites like apples, cherries and pears, we also bring in some in some unusual fruit trees such as persimmon, walnuts, and Chinese Jujube.
Most people prefer to grow fruit varieties they are more familiar with, like ones they purchase at the store (Pink lady Apples, Santa Rosa Plums). While these varieties are popular for good reason, consider planting a lesser known fruit tree like the ‘Chocolate’ Persimmon or a Mulberry. You’ll never find them at the store- often because they aren’t bred for a long shelf life. So, you can enjoy unique flavors right from your yard!
The non-astringent ‘Chocolate’ Persimmon has bright orange skin and brown flesh, thus it’s reference to chocolate. The fruits form and color late in fall and resemble lanterns hanging from the tree after leaf drop. Letting the fruits freeze on the tree a few times before harvest is recommended to enhance sweetness. The rare ‘Chocolate’ variety has a hint of nutmeg spice along with the sweet flavor.
Mulberries you will almost never see at a store or even a farmer’s market because they are best picked ripe from the tree and tend to get juice down your arms in the process. But they are worth the mess- with a flavor and look similar to blackberries, but almost more complex. They have elongated black fruits and can make a large bush or small tree that could be hedged. Just plant it far away from the family vehicle. We carry the variety 'Black Beauty' which is hardy to Zone 7.
One confusing topic when it comes to fruit trees is pollination. Fruit trees are either self-fertile or they require a pollinator. If a tree is self-fertile that means that it will produce fruit on its own without the help of another tree. If a tree requires a pollinator than you need to plant two or more varieties of that species that are compatible. There are several pollination charts out there to reference. Our fruit tree descriptions tell you if they are self-fertile or need a pollinator.
Example: A Granny Smith apple is self-fertile as well as a pollinator for the ever-popular Fuji apple. They would make a great pair! One type being sour and one sweet. But even if a fruit tree is self-fertile, it will set more fruit with other fruit trees of the same species nearby. Don’t stress too much about how close they are to each other, bees are pretty good at traveling. The important point is that diversity is a good thing .Growing fruit is a rewarding experience. It allows you to share food that you’ve grown with friends and family. It’s important to grow fruit that you not only like but will also use. You would be surprised how fruitful a couple of trees can be once they mature.
What if I am limited in space? You’re not alone: if you would like to grow more varieties than your space will allow there is a way. One solution is to plant genetic dwarfs like the ‘Dwarf Empress' Peach or 'Golden Prolific' Nectarine. These compact trees only reach about 5’ tall and wide, while still producing a healthy amount of tasty fruit! Another solution is to use a technique called espaliered pruning. This allows you to control the size and form of your trees. Espaliered trees are also a very beautiful way to incorporate fruit trees into your landscape and garden space
Be sure to pre register for any upcoming classes you are interested in. Many of them have limited spaces and the fruit tree classes are always popular. Looking forward to seeing you!