In my previous blog article Growing Heritage Fruit Trees PART I, I suggested taking some time to learn about the different heritage fruit tree varieties, by doing this research it helps you make an informed decision about what fruit trees you would like to buy, plant, maintain, grow and harvest. Plus the fruit tree descriptions are lovely!
In this post I’ll focus on How to choose what variety to grow, Harvesting Times & Planning.
~ How to choose what variety to grow ~
As an example lets talk about apples but you could ask yourself similar relevant questions when considering growing other Heritage Fruit Tree varieties.
1. What kinds of apples do you like to eat. Red, Green, Russet, Golden, Pink?
Do you like to eat apples straight from the tree, often referred to as “eating apples” or cooked apples, often referred to as “cookers” ?
There are also apple varieties referred to as “dual purpose apples” which basically means they are good to eat either fresh or when cooked.
Make your selections for you and your families needs.
eg. If you prefer to only eat cooked apple, select a variety that cooks well.
Do you have young grandchildren or planning to start a family? One of the first foods a baby eats is cooked apple, plant some apple tree varieties that cook well. White Pearmain is a favourite and is an all purpose variety, delicious to eat straight from the tree and cooked. Gravesnstein is lovely too, keep in mind it is an early season dual purpose apple, it doesn’t store well so needs to be eaten or processed straight away, will you be able to put aside time to do this or will your schedule be too full.
~ Harvest Times & Planning ~
A little back ground information if you are starting out.
Every type of fruit isn’t all harvested during one week of each year then put into cold storage until needed.
Different varieties of fruit are ready to harvest at different times. Early, middle and late in the season and just to confuse things, there is fruit that is ready to harvest late in the early season etc.
But to keep it less confusing, because your micro climate will have some impact on harvest time, just focus on early, middle and late harvest times. This frame work will help you choose varieties from each category or maybe if you are short of space choose only a mid harvest cropping apple.
An example if you only have space for two trees:
1. Tree number one: An early apple that you can eat fresh from the tree,
2. Tree number two: A late harvesting apple that you cook. The weather is cooler when you are picking the cooking apples that mature late in the season, it will also be cooler in your kitchen, far more pleasant to be peeling, coring and cooking apples over a hot stove.
Things to consider:
- Plant your trees the 1st winter that you can. Try and buy 2 to 3 year old root stock (that means it has been growing at the nursery in their growing beds for 2 to 3 years).
- Do you want to be harvesting cooking apples at the height of summer and therefore having to be cooking when you would rather be outside enjoying Summertime activities instead of in a hot kitchen, cooking over a hot stove. Try and plan your harvests times around your yearly calendar. For example in Australia the school year starts early to mid February, it’s a transition time of establishing new family routines, could you choose trees that are harvested mid March onwards. It would be one less thing to worry about, less pressure and your time could be focused on settling your family into the new school year instead of being stuck in the kitchen.
*We are hoping to get the last of our fruit tree order and a few spontaneous crabapple tree purchases into the ground this weekend. I may have declared to Michael and Lil that it will be the last fruit tree planting for the next several years. I honestly wouldn’t know where to squeeze anymore in. They both laughed in disbelief at my grand statement.
I originally wrote the bulk of this blog article back in December 2020. The information and ideas are still as relevant as ever. There are some bare root stock fruit trees left in the garden centres at the moment and I did read that some mail order nurseries still have stock available (especially apple trees). I wouldn’t put it off though and make it a priority to buy new fruit trees. Any left over stock that hasn’t sold as bare rooted will be showing signs of budding, nursery staff will be potting them up and the price will reflect that.
Hope you get to spend some time in the garden over the next couple of days.
Take precious care, Jude x
Growing Heritage Fruit Trees. Part II.
September 8, 2021