The sweet taste of suc­cess

The Compass - - TRINITY SOUTH -

As I have said many times, New­found­land’s cli­mate is among the warm­est year-round in Canada, though it may not feel like it right now. We have rel­a­tively warm and mild win­ters that al­low many gar­den­ers on the is­land to grow all sorts of fruit trees.

Ap­ples can grow al­most any­where in Canada, but count­less other fruits can be grown on our is­land. Through se­lec­tive breed­ing over time, hardy cherry, apri­cot, pear and plum va­ri­eties have been pro­duced in nurs­eries all over Canada for plant­ing in far colder re­gions than ours.

If you want to grow a fruit tree in coastal New­found­land, your first should se­lect the right tree. Don’t just buy what­ever fruit tree is for sale at your lo­cal box store, go to a nurs­ery and ask ques­tions. Re­mem­ber that a fruit tree planted out­side of its pre­ferred en­vi­ron­ment will likely strug­gle, no mat­ter how the gar­dener tends to it.

Se­lect­ing a proper lo­ca­tion is your first step to grow­ing your own fruit at home. Fruit­ing trees and shrubs re­quire full sun and plenty of space to spread. With this said it is a good idea to plant other bloom­ing and fruit­ing species around your tree to at­tract a greater num­ber of pol­li­na­tors. If you are plant­ing more than one fruit tree, space them ap­prox­i­mately eight to 10 feet apart.

Plant­ing a fruit tree is much the same as with any other tree — sim­ply dig­ging a hole and plac­ing the tree in it. With fruit trees, I find it best to plant the crown of the stem just be­low the soil’s sur­face for bet­ter long-term sta­bil­ity. This would mean that the root ball’s top would be about six to eight inches be­low the soil’s sur­face. I would also add rich com­post to the hole while back­fill­ing to help stim­u­late healthy root de­vel­op­ment.

Since fruit trees quickly be­come top heavy, proper stak­ing is most of­ten re­quired in our windy cli­mate. Stakes should be placed about three to four feet out from the tree’s trunk and driven at least one foot or more into the earth to en­sure suf­fi­cient sta­bil­ity.

Once planted, your fruit tree should be fer­til­ized at least twice to three times a year start­ing in early spring. A gen­eral all pur­pose fer­til­izer would do the trick for the first few years of de­vel­op­ment and then a spe­cific fruit fer­til­izer may be pur­chased.

Now that we know where and how to plant our fruit tree, we must de­cide what fruits would we like?

Apri­cots, sur­pris­ingly to some, grow well in New­found­land in a shel­tered en­vi­ron­ment with full sun and some wind pro­tec­tion. The gold fruit of these trees form soon af­ter the loss of their early spring blooms. Two cul­ti­vars of apri­cot for our re­gion would be: Moon­gold and Sun­gold. ‘Moon­gold’ has a slightly larger, golden-tone fruit, while ‘ Sun­gold’ pro­vides a mild-fla­vored fruit with a red blush.

It should come as no sur­prise to most that plum trees be dis­cussed as they are a tra­di­tional New­found­land gar­den tree. Sev­eral va­ri­eties of plum trees are con­sid­ered hardy enough for our mild win­ters and de­hy­drat­ing winds: Al­der­man, La Cres­cent, and Un­der­wood. The ‘Al­der­man plum’ is a won­der­ful or­na­men­tal tree that pro­duces magnificent red fruit in late sum­mer. ‘La Cres­cent’ pro­duces a high­qual­ity yel­low plum, sim­i­lar to an apri­cot, though less struc­tured in growth habit, ‘ La Cres­cent’ is a faster grow­ing va­ri­ety. The ‘ Un­der­wood’ plum tree, one of the hardi­est va­ri­eties avail­able to­day, is also a vig­or­ously grow­ing tree and should pro­duce a medium sized red fruit.

Though full-sized pear fruit may be dif­fi­cult to grow in New­found­land, there are a cou­ple of va­ri­eties that could be con­sid­ered. If a can­ning pear is what you de­sire, ‘Gold- en Spice’ is a very hardy va­ri­ety that pro­duces a small, medium yel­low fruit that is tart. A hardy sweet va­ri­ety would be ‘ Sum­mer­crisp’ pear that pro­duces large fruit, de­scribed as both crisp and sweet.

Cherry trees are an­other tra­di­tional New­found­land fruit. The ‘North Star cherry’, a dwarf cherry tree species which pro­duces bak­ing cher­ries, grows to only 8-10 feet high at ma­tu­rity and is well suited to the harsh­est of en­vi­ron­ments . The ‘ Me­teor‘ cherry is an­other semi-dwarf tree that grows to ap­prox­i­mately 14 feet high at ma­tu­rity, and is a vig­or­ous grower.

Why not try some fruit trees on your prop­erty this year? As al­ways, ques­tions can be sent to john­nor­man21@gmail.com

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