Flavorful, Fresh Fruits

Friday, January 10th, 2014 by Jenny Watts
    • Bare root fruit trees are now available. Choose one tree or a whole orchard and get them planted while the soil is good for digging.
    • Blueberries are a delicious fruit that can be planted now from young plants. Give them a rich, acid bed prepared with lots of peat moss.
    • Start seeds of broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and other cool season crops indoors for planting outside in March.
    • Prune fruit trees, grapes, berries, and ornamental trees this month. Take in a pruning class and sharpen your shears before you start.
    • Start off the new year with a new house plant to brighten your indoor spaces. Choose from many fine varieties now.

Flavorful, Fresh Fruits

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 becoming 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.

After nearly disappearing from the marketplace, apple varieties that were popular decades or even centuries ago are making a come-back. These varieties, known as antique or heirloom apples, number in the thousands and carry names such as Sheepnose, American Mother, Lady Sweet and Nickajack.

A couple of antique apples that you can find right here are Spitzenburg and York Imperial. Spitzenburg is regarded by some connoisseurs as the very best dessert apple. It has red over yellow skin, yellowish flesh, and is firm, juicy and moderately sweet, with renowned flavor. It ripens in late October here and is a good keeper.

York Imperial is one of the very best apples for keeping: in a cool location, it holds its flavor until April or May. It has a fine quality for dessert use, and is excellent for baking and cider. It may have a light red blush or be nearly fully red. It is a firm apple with coarse, yellow flesh that is crisp and juicy with a semi-sweet flavor. It is harvested late in the season.

A fun and productive way to grow apple trees is called espalier, in which the branches are trained to grow flat against a wall or fence supported by a framework or trellis. They are excellent space savers perfect for small gardens, producing more fruit in less space than conventional trees. This practice dates back to the Romans, but now you can buy an apple tree already started as an espalier with four different varieties of apples grafted onto it.

Another unique shape for apple trees is the columnar apple tree. With a compact, upright, narrow growth habit (they mature to be about 7-8′ tall and 2-3′ wide) they are perfect for planting in small yards and gardens or growing in containers on balconies and patios. Two varieties, which pollinate each other, are Northpole and Scarlet Sentinel. Northpole has large, red-skinned McIntosh-type fruit that is crisp and juicy. Scarlet Sentinel has dense clusters of white blossoms followed by large, delicious, red-blushed, greenish-yellow fruit.

Interspecific hybrids are an entirely unique type of fruit. They are complex hybrids of plums, apricots, peaches, cherries and nectarines in varying combinations and proportions that are in no way genetically modified. Of the plum/apricot crosses, Pluots and Plumcots have more plum than apricot parentage while Apriums are more apricot than plum.

Tri-Lite is a peach/plum cross. This white-fleshed peach crossed with a plum has a mild, classic white peach flavor and finishes with a wonderful plum aftertaste.

Sweet Treat Pluerry is a cross between a plum and a sweet cherry, with the size of a plum. It is extremely sweet when fully ripe, and will hang on the tree for over a month, getting sweeter and sweeter. Burgundy plum is recommended as a pollenizer.

Burgundy Plum has medium-sized fruit with flesh that is deep red, mellow, and sweet covered with a reddish purple skin. An all around great plum, it is good for fresh eating, cooking, drying and in jams and jellies, and it is self-fertile.

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.