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How to grow Apples and Pears

Everyone enjoys picking fresh fruit from their own fruit tree and both apples and pears are excellent trees to grow and most modern trees do not get too large (10-15ft). Varieties are available that grow well for a good portion of the continent and do best in zones 5-8. For a long season, look for varieties that produce fruit early, mid and late in the season. Later season varieties also have the advantage of being better for storage so you can have fresh fruit well into winter.

Pollination: Although apples and pears are both easy to grow, they do need a pollinator. This is another variety of apple or pear that blooms at the same time. So for instance if you wanted to grow a red apple such as CrimsonCrisp you need to have either the early yellow Pristine for pollination, or the Gold Rush. Growing all three trees gives a better variety of fruit if you have sufficient room.

Location: Both apple and pears like full sun. In colder areas beware of planting early blooming varieties at the bottom of the slope or other areas where late frosts can injure the developing fruit. Those that produce the bloom later are less likely to be in bloom when a late frost occurs.

Regional Varieties: Apple and pear trees need a spell of cold weather to be productive but not so cold as to compromise the root system. This can vary between varieties making some trees better for northern growers (zones 5 and 6), and some better for those in the south who are zone 7 and 8. There are many varieties that do well all the way from zone 5 to zone 8 so you will have plenty to choose from.

Planting the trees: Your trees will arrive either with bare roots, as a root ball wrapped in burlap or in a container with soil. Whichever way your tree arrives, it should be unpacked promptly. Bare root trees can be soaked in water to keep moist until ready to plant.

Dig a hole that is wide enough and deep enough to accommodate all the roots as well as any soil that is included with the packing. Look for a thicker area that is between the main trunk of the tree and the roots. This junction should be at, or just above, surface level, not below the soil surface.

Add some compost to the contents of the excavated soil and make a hill at the bottom of the hole that will help support the roots. Gently backfill the hole with soil until all the roots are covered with soil. When your hole is half filled with soil, press down gently to settle the soil. Continue to fill the hole until the soil is level with the surrounding ground.

Water the tree well.

If planted in spring, your tree should put out some shoots the first year, but you should not allow the fruit to form. This allows the branches to grow strong enough to support fruit, and allows the tree time to mature enough to support fruit production.

Read the next Article: Annuals Tour #1

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Gardening Tip of the Day

  • Everyone knows lawn clippings, dead leaves and vegetable scraps can be tossed on to the compost pile to ultimately become rich organic matter for enhancing garden soil. But did you know there is a long list of other materials that will enhance a compost pile? Try tossing the following organic recyclables onto the compost heap:
    • dryer lint (especially from cotton towels, sheets and clothing)
    • dog or cat fur (great for owners of golden retrievers!)
    • cereal and cracker boxes (take out the wax paper liner, rip cardboard into strips and moisten before adding to compost pile)
    • shredded newspaper
    • ground corn stalks
    • wood chips
    • sawdust
    • rinsed seaweed
    • guinea pig or hamster manure (plus natural-material bedding)
    Never compost dog or cat waste, bones, oil, grease, fat, invasive weeds, wheat with seeds or wood ashes.