Mouthwatering Cherries

Saturday, January 14th, 2012 by Jenny Watts
    • 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!

New Fruit Trees

Friday, January 8th, 2010 by Jenny Watts
    • Bare root season is here. Choose and plant your favorite fruit trees and roses now.
    • Start seeds of broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and other cool season crops indoors for planting outside in March.
    • Many fine varieties of flowering dogwoods, tulip magnolias, Japanese maples and other specimen plants are now available at nurseries for winter planting.
    • Primroses will give you the most color during this cold weather. Choose some pretty ones now for your boxes and beds.
    • Check the watering of outdoor container plants especially if they’re located under the eaves or porch where rain can’t reach them.

Mouth-watering Fruits for the Orchard

It’s a new year and a new decade! So why not add some new fruit varieties to your orchard this season. Bareroot season is the best time to find new and interesting fruit trees. While the trees are still dormant, they are shipped to nurseries all over the country to make their way into orchards large and small.

Apples are one of the best fruits for our region. Our cold winters and warm summers are good for apple-growing and there are dozens of fine varieties to choose from. Some old varieties that are worth considering are Gravenstein, an heirloom apple that is unsurpassed for making delicious applesauce. Arkansas Black, a red apple so dark it can sometimes be almost black, is making a come-back lately. It is an excellent keeper and it’s crisp, yellow flesh becomes more aromatic in storage.

Two “pink” apples are very popular. Pink Lady® is the brand name given to the ‘Cripps Pink’ variety of apple bred in Western Australia. A hot climate apple, it is very crisp with a sweet-tart, distinctive flavor and is a good keeper. The skin is reddish-pink over green when ripe, and the white flesh is sweet, tangy, and refreshing.

Pink Pearl is a California introduction from 1944. It has a dull, yellow-brown skin but on the inside, it has shockingly pink, sweet-tart flesh. Even the blooms are bright pink. It ripens in late summer and makes a beautiful and tasty pink applesauce.

Honeycrisp is a new variety from Wisconsin. These large, attractive apples grow on very productive trees. When ripe, in September and October, they are crisp and juicy and they practically snap off into your mouth. Fruit keeps for up to six months.

Pears also do very well in our area. One of the newer varieties is Harrow Delight which comes from Harrow, Canada. This is a high-quality, early, fresh market pear with excellent fire-blight resistance. It ripens early in the season with fruit that is similar to Bartlett in appearance with excellent flavor and smooth, non-gritty flesh.

Cherries are probably the best loved fruit of all. Most cherry trees require a pollenizer but Sweetheart cherry is self-fertile. It puts on large crops of bright red, crunchy fruit with mild, sweet flavor. It is the latest cherry to ripen, extending the cherry season.

Cherries tend to be large trees, but there’s a new dwarfing rootstock for cherries from Zaiger Genetics. The Zaiger Dwarf Root™ dwarfs trees to about 8 feet tall and is perfect for container growing, and also adaptable to many soil types.

There are lots of mouth-watering fruits to add to your orchard, large or small. So take advantage of this mild weather and plant some new fruit trees today.