Monday, August 13, 2012

Sweet Fruity Goodness

I went to pick some cherries and apples tonight, and fell in love with the yard of this elderly couple in an older part of town. So in love that I told her to call me if she ever wanted to sell her house! This woman had it all - compost, firewood, shade trees, fruit trees, vegetables, ponds (yes, plural), and even some lawn. It was phenomenal. Too bad my yard is about 1/6 the size.

But you may have gotten stuck on the word 'cherries'. Yes, you can grow cherries in central Alberta! In fact, you might be surprised at what fruits you can grow here. There's the obvious apples, strawberries, raspberries, currants, gooseberries, and saskatoons, but there's also new varieties of fruits that are being bred to be hardy here on the Canadian prairies. Things like Evans cherries, which is what I picked tonight. They're considered sour cherries but are easily eaten out of hand if ripe. This year I planted a Juliet cherry in my front yard, which I believe is sweeter than an Evan's cherry, and it's also a bush (rather than a tree) which is good for smaller yards. There are several other cherries that are available now as well. Check out Prairie Tech more info.

A couple weeks ago I was at a home that was growing grapes. Yes, there are grapes you can grow here as well! And kiwis, and blackberries, and pears. If you want to get really crazy, Prairie Tech even sells Gojiberry seedlings as well as Sea Buckthorn (but those are male/female so you need at least two). 

Last but certainly not least are the haskaps, which are quickly gaining popularity as an easy-to-grow alternative to blueberries. I have 6 bushes, with one if them already producing a decent crop. If you get them, be sure to do your research, as there are different 'grades' of haskaps. Borealis and Tundra will be high-producers, as well as Berry Blue, but most of the varieties you see in the greenhouse are of the lesser stock. My mother-in-law gave me a tip - if the plants is getting sun-scald (blackened leaves in late summer), it's not a good one.

So there's a surprising amount of choices out there, you just have to be willing to source out what's hardy where you live. I'm still trying to decide what will be my two main fruit bushes/trees I add to the front yard in spring, but I keep needing to remind myself of one thing: plant what you love! Don't love apples? Don't grow apples! ;) 

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