Last fall we ordered 5 more fruit trees from Bob Duncan at Fruit Trees and More, our favourite fruit tree supplier. This time we got 3 plums and two asian pears, all on a dwarf stock. Bob did some initial pruning when we went to pick up the trees, and showed me how to bend out the remaining branches to encourage tiers of branches spread in a circle around the main leader. I have tied down the branches while they are still bendable to encourage an open shape. I planted the trees right away with a sprinkling of bone meal and organic fertilizer, watered them in well and later applied a thick layer of leaf mulch. Here are the details of the varieties:
Seneca plum– large purple fruit, resembling Italian variety. Ripens early september, with high quality eating plums also good for canning and drying.
Yellow Egg plum– large, oval yellow fruit with yellow flesh. Ripens mid september, soft and sweet for eating and canning.
Stanley plum-Ripens mid september, European plum medium to large, excellent for eating fresh, cooking, or canning.
Nijisseki asian pear– ripens late august, medium round, greenish yellow skinned, firm and crisp, excellent eating quality.
Chojuro asian pear– ripens mid august, medium round, brown skinned, mildly sweet, firm and crisp.
The new area is to the west of the orchard that we put in two years ago, and is slightly shadier and wetter than the rest of the open space. However, this was the only place we could expand the fencing due to our continued plans to have excavators and piles of building materials in the next few years. I dug trenches for drainage to keep the areas where the bare root fruit trees were to be planted as well drained as possible. I have been wanting to establish areas of berries, like blueberries, strawberries and raspberries, but I think this new area is too dark and wet. I discovered that there are lots of native berries that produce abundantly, so I added a few plants each of evergreen huckleberry (growing 5-6 feet tall), lingonberry (2 feet tall), and wintergreen (ground cover).
Hummingbirds love the small, pink-white flowers like fairy bells of the evergreen huckleberry (Vaccinium ovatum). Late in the summer, black-purple fruits form. Native only to the Pacific Coast (USDA 6-9), it likes acidic soil and can tolerate salt spray and strong winds. The delicious fruit for pies, jam and unique toppings is an added bonus. In forested areas it can reach 15’ and spreads to form beautiful, dense stands. The glossy, dark green leaves are small and the new shoots are a bronzy red. In full sun, it dwarfs to 3-5,’ and the mature foliage often turns reddish purple.
Vaccinium vitis-idaea (lingonberry) is a short evergreen shrub in the heath family that bears edible fruit, native to boreal forest and Arctic tundra throughout the Northern Hemisphere from Eurasia to North America. These plants thrive in moist, acidic soils from Massachusetts to Alaska, producing an abundance of healthful, cranberry-like fruits.
Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbent) is a ground cover that produces the classically refreshing flavour of crisp mint. The small red berries can be mealy, but are rich in vitamin c. It is cold hardy and keeps it’s glossy leaves all winter, producing white or pink-tinged bell-like flowers.
Already established in the same area is a black elderberry (sambucus nigra) and three chokecherries that I planted in the margins of the original orchard area. They are all now nice and tall and bushy, and producing lots of bunches of berries. Last fall I made a jar of elderberry syrup. We also have a small native red huckleberry, so I hope to see this corner of the garden flourish with series of all types that we, as well as the birds, can enjoy!