We’ve been dreaming and planning about expanding our home orchard for some time. Our three apples trees have done really well, and we are ready to add a few more trees in the 20 Minute Garden. Our goal is to raise more fruit and more kinds of fruit too.
I’ve been researching different varieties of fruit trees and reflecting on what types of fruits would work best for our garden, our growing zone, and our palates. Here are my current choices and the logical and reasoning that went into making these selections. Note that our plants will come from Tree of Antiquity, a nursery specializing in heirloom varieties whose products we’ve been very happy with. Almost all of their trees are certified organic. In addition to great products, their website offers a wonderful resource of history and habits of each of the plants they sell. It is indeed hard to make choices when there are so many good ones!
Pear — I’m leaning toward the Kieffer pear, which originated in Pennsylvania in 1876. This pear is a rare American heirloom variety. It’s good for fresh eating, pear honey (with which I am not yet familiar, but will be as soon as possible!) and preserves. The fruit stores excellently, and the tree is self-fertile, which is a definite plus since we will likely have only one pear tree. In 2 – 4 years, we’ll be harvesting pears.
Peach — Polly White (Iowa, 1920) is one of the most winter hardy heirloom peach varieties, which was a major attraction given our weather. While the Michigan winter in our area is milder than further north, we do get some very cold temperatures and we want our peach tree to survive! Moreover, Polly White peaches are described as “sweet, tender and juicy” — a perfect peach!– and also as being freestone peaches, another plus. This tree is also self-fertile, and it will be bearing fruit in 1 – 3 years
Cherry — Montmorency from France 1600’s. A classic cooking cherry! Good for pies and tarts! The fruit does not get mushy when cooked. This tree is disease resistant and self-fertile. We will get cherries in 1 – 3 years.
Apple — White Pearmain — England 1200. Okay, I’m completely smitten with an apple variety known for being 800 years old! This apple is good for fresh eating, dessert, pies, cider, and baking — all the things we do with apples! It’s vigorious and self-fertile, but also a great pollinizer of other apple trees. Our tree will bear apples in 2 – 4 years.
As we have noted in our other orchard and fruit tree posts, planting fruit trees is an investment in the future. We are reminded of the need for patience and the hope of looking forward. The descriptions have my mouth watering already, so after I place the order, I’m off to enjoy a big juicy apple!