Mouthwatering Cherries

    • Bare root fruit trees are now available. Choose one tree or a whole orchard and get them planted while the weather is good for digging.
    • Strawberries can be planted any time now. Get them in early, and you’ll be picking strawberries this summer.
    • Primroses will give you the most color during this cold weather. Choose some pretty ones now for your boxes and beds.
    • Prune fruit trees, grapes, berries, and ornamental trees this month. Take in a pruning class and sharpen your shears before you start.
    • Spring flowers and vegetables can be started from seeds now on your window sill. Try pansies and snapdragons, broccoli, cabbage and lettuces.

Mouthwatering Cherries

Cherries are without a doubt one of the most popular summer fruits. It seems like you never get enough of them, and the prices in the stores are so high, why not try growing your own?

There are two types of cherries, sweet ones and sour ones. The sweet ones are found in the markets. Most popular are the large, black, juicy, sweet Bing cherries with top quality flavor and appearance. They account for 60-70% of the cherries grown in California. Van is similar to Bing and is good fresh, cooked, canned or frozen. Black Tartarian has very large heart-shaped fruit and rich, red juicy flesh.

Less known is Lapins Cherry, a dark red cherry with good sweet flavor. It is the latest sweet cherry to ripen, extending the cherry season into mid-July. Utah Giant, considered the best sweet cherry by Utah folks, is large and firm with outstanding flavor. Dark red and sweet, it has good disease resistance.

Stella has large, richly flavored sweet cherries that are nearly black in color. This is an excellent cherry for eating fresh with sweet, juicy flesh.

Craig’s Crimson is a very fine sweet cherry. It is dark red, with a wonderful spicy flavor and very firm texture. It rates very high in taste tests. The tree is naturally semi-dwarf, growing about 2/3 the size of a standard tree.

Then there are the yellow sweet cherries. Best know is Royal Ann, used mainly for canning and to make Maraschino Cherries. But Royal Rainier has replaced Royal Ann as the best yellow cherry for California. It has a very sweet flavor and is large, firm and juicy and its yellow skin has an attractive red blush. It is delicious for out-of-hand eating as well.

The sour cherries aren’t as bad as they sound. In fact they are famous for making outstanding pies and cobblers. Montmorency is the most widely grown with large, light red fruit which have yellow flesh.

Correct pollination is important for cherries. Most sweet cherries require two different trees for cross-pollination. However, Stella, Lapins, and Craig’s Crimson will fruit on their own. Not all sweet cherries will cross pollinate, so check with your nursery to be sure you buy varieties which are compatible. For best pollination, trees should be planted within 50 feet of each other. Sour cherries are self-fruitful and will set fruit alone.

Sweet cherries become large trees, about 30 feet tall. With pruning you can keep them smaller, so it’s easier to pick the fruit and to cover the tree to keep the birds away. Sour cherries grow only 20 feet tall and are more spreading in form.

Cherries require good soil drainage especially through the spring rainy season. They bloom late and usually escape the frost so you get a nice crop most years. Make room for cherries in your yard!

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