Yes, you CAN grow delicious apricots in central Alberta!
Did you catch that? APRICOTS!! For real!
Two years ago I bought a Westcot Apricot tree on a whim, since it was 40% off and I wanted another fruit tree for the front yard. I was told by the nursery staff that it was actually possible to grow apricots in Zone 3. I was skeptical, especially since the first year the tree didn't even flower. However, it is a very lovely tree, fast-growing with attractive foliage. The leaves at the tips are red and it looks quite gorgeous. Even with no fruit, I'd definitely love this tree.
So this year it flowered and even grew one solitary apricot. I waited until I was sure it was ripe, then I plucked it from the tree and sliced it in quarters for my whole family to try. I popped my quarter into my mouth with trepidation.
Why? Well, you can't grow sweet cherries in Zone 3, you have to grow sour cherries. It's hard to grow sweet blueberries in Zone 3, but you can grow tart haskaps with ease. So I was positive that this apricot would be some sort of sour/tart variation on the juicy and sweet BC apricots.
But was I ever surprised when the flavour that entered my mouth was just as (if not more so) juicy and sweet than any apricot found in a grocery store this time of year! Mind - and tastebuds - blown. It was like summer had entered my mouth and said hello. I think I might have groaned. It was amazing.
Next year, if I get a few more, I might share a few. If you're really nice to me this year.
On the other hand, if you'd like to grow your own so you don't have to be nice to me, here are some tips.
1) It doesn't require a pollinator plant, but it works MUCH better with. I have a nanking cherry bush next to my tree, but I believe a sandcherry is also an option. Check with your nursery staff.
2) It's recommended that the tree be in a sheltered area. Mine's in the front yard and the wind tunnels right up our street in a storm, so I can't say it's exactly sheltered, but it seems to be ok. It does list towards the house a bit though. I should probably get a better stake than the tent poles I'm currently using.
That's it! Thus far it's been my easiest tree. Yippee!