The sweet taste of success
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 email@example.com