Flavorful, Fresh Fruits for the Orchard

Friday, January 9th, 2015 by Jenny Watts
    • Bare-root season is here. Choose and plant your favorite fruit and shade trees now.
    • Blueberries are a delicious fruit that can be planted now from potted plants. Give them a rich, acid bed prepared with lots of peat moss.
    • Roses should be pruned in February near the end of the dormant season. You can clean them up now, however, by removing all the old leaves on and around the plants.
    • Primroses will give you the most color during this cold weather. Choose some pretty ones now for your boxes and beds.
    • Start seeds of broccoli, cabbage, kale and other cool season crops indoors now for planting outside in March.

Flavorful, Fresh Fruits for the Orchard

Each year the list of mouth-watering summer fruits grows longer with new hybrids introduced and sometimes antique varieties making a comeback. Home grown fruit is increasingly popular as we learn the benefits of local food production.

Discovering new flavors and even new fruits can be an exciting taste experience. Here are some varieties that may be new to you.

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. Famous for its frequently huge size, Wolf River is an heirloom apple was discovered about 1875, near the Wolf River in Wisconsin. Its white flesh is smooth and sweet. Used primarily for cooking, as well as fresh and for drying, it is a hardy, disease-resistant tree.

Asian pears do very well in our area. They are usually round, with brown or yellow skin, and are firm when ripe. A variety that may be new to you is called Seigyoku. It has large fruit of the very best quality, with a smooth skin and crisp, juicy, sweet, flavorful flesh. It bears heavily with attractive yellow fruit.

Cherries are probably the best loved fruit of all. Royal Ann is a long-time favorite sweet cherry known for its yellow skin, dotted with red, and its rich flavor. It is excellent fresh as well as for canning, and is often used to make maraschino cherries because they bleach easily. Once called Napoleon, it dates back to the 1700’s. Most cherry trees require a pollenizer and so does this one. Pollenate with Black Tartarian.

Apricots are not the easiest fruit to grow in this region, but areas with less frost may be successful with them. Puget Gold is a hardy variety from western Washington. It produces large fruit with orange skin and orange flesh and has very good flavor. It is recommended for western climates where spring rains and frosts limit apricot culture. So if you just can’t live without fresh apricots, it’s a good one to try.

Who can resist a new peach? Suncrest is a fine-flavored, yellow freestone with bright red skin over yellow. It has frost hardy blossoms, and is a consistent producer of large, firm fruit. It is also an heirloom that “tastes like the sun and summer.”

Figs are a sub-tropical fruit, but some varieties are hardier than others. Chicago Hardy is light reddish brown fig with very good flavor. It even grows well in Canada.

Kiwi fruit need a long, frost-free season to set and ripen fruit. The “hardy kiwis” produce a smaller fruit, but are easier to grow here. Ken’s Red produces bright red fruit with a sweet, mild flavor. Its fruit is among the largest of the hardy kiwi varieties and they should ripen here in July.

Now is the time to plant fruit trees of all kinds from bare-root trees available at local nurseries. Be sure to add some of these tasty varieties to your orchard.