new to this and want to plant fruit!

angmnelson(5)January 23, 2014

Hi--I am fairly new to growing fruit (except berries, which seem very easy here), we bought a house last year, and my yard is pretty much a blank slate. Plenty of Sun exposure--cold winters and dry summers--soil is just ok

I would like to grow 2-4 Apple trees, 1-2 plums, maybe a cherry? I would like to know the best, and best tasting varieties for a beginner. My daughter wants to grow honeycrisp, but from what I am reading, they sound too difficult? I don't want fussy or difficult, but I do like the sweet-tart taste and hate mealy or bland apples. I'm wondering about the stark disease free special (one each of enterprise, jonafree and gold rush) but can't find much about the taste of enterprise or jonafree, or whether gold rush would do well in our dry summer.

I had some plums from a neighbor once that I bet, from reading descriptions, were green gage--they were amazing. They had grown wild on her vacant lot since forever and she didn't know what kind--rather ugly dull green, but soooooo good. I would love to grow those, but they also sound difficult . . .

Anyway I don't have a lot of money nor a lot of ground, so I am trying to get this right! At our old house I planted a few fruit trees and let's just say it was not a rousing success.

Thank you for any help!

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Since you're in WA, check out Raintree nursery. They have a large selection, and since they're in your area they'll know what diseases to watch out for. I'm in WI, so my climate and diseases are rather different. Local advice is invaluable, and so are local farmers markets. It's VERY important to try the fruit you're considering before planting anything. Even if it has a great description, it might just not be for you. You might need to wait to plant until next year, so you can try things this summer.

Honeycrisp does great in the upper Midwest, but for me it gets rust-colored leaves partway through the summer. It's not terribly vigorous, either. I love the fruit anyway. There was a discussion on Gardenweb about the best way to ripen Honeycrisp recently. Some have suggested that warm days and cool nights at ripening time bring out the best flavor.

The best disease-resistant variety of apple I've tried is Liberty. I have Raintree's espaliered Liberty, and I'm very happy with it.

I've found it's worthwhile to spend a little more money for a good quality tree than buy whatever is on sale. You'll have fewer failures that way.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 7:54AM
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Also check out Burnt Ridge Nursery. They are also located in WA. They have some of the very best prices when compared to other online sellers. They have a good selection of apples. But, can be a little all over the place when it comes to tree size. They have really small potted trees, but their bare root trees are nice. Their descriptions give a good idea of each trees disease resistance. A really nice thing with Burnt Ridge is that they almost always answer the phone. They are always helpful and very nice. I'd give them a call to answer some of your questions, especially since they are in your area.

The main problem I've found with Honeycrisp is Cedar Apple Rust. Not sure if that would be a problem in your area, but fairly easy to control.

Here is a link that might be useful: Burnt Ridge

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 9:42AM
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Enterprise is a later apple then Liberty, and I like Liberty better myself but no problem with either. There are apples I like better, but those are not as organically friendly.

Buy your trees bare root (potted is not better, just costs more) you need to learn about the hows and whys of pruning to get the proper shape started.

My advise is to skip Honeycrisp for now and graft it onto a reliable tree later. I have gone the other way, I got a HC tree and it get hit by bugs and etc and was just barely getting by (I don't spray) but I grafted Enterprise onto it so there would be some strong foliage on the tree, it might give apples for the first time this year.

When you plant your trees they will settle some, so you want the top roots just barely covered and the graft knot well above the ground.

You need to think of ground saturation in heavy rains, and not plant in the low spots, or do some dirt work to get better run off.

tree ripened peaches are awesome and peaches bear fruit sooner then apples, in my yard anyway. If I had space I would also do pears, either Bartlett or Concorde. Different views on if Bartlett needs pollinator, but I know of one that produces as a stand along tree, but you can always graft another variety onto it if you only want one pear tree.

You can call Raintree and ask to talk to a horticulturalist

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 10:18AM
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I'm in Redmond on the other side of the state.
Raintree and Burntridge should have all your wanted plants.Raintree also offers workshops and classes.I went to the all day one last year and learned some things.The information about them can be found on their website.It may be quite a drive though,in your case.
I've read that Green Gage is an excellent Plum.Ever consider Pluots?Most of them are rated to zone5,with Flavor Supreme I think to zone4.Eastern Washington certainly has the heat to bring out the great flavors in the fruit.Most of the Pluots that are sold at the farmers markets around here are grown there.Right now,Flavor King and Flavor Grenade are my favorites. Brady

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 1:12PM
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Thanks for the ideas on planting--

Lack of rain is the big problem here. Some summers we have 2 straight months with no rain at all. I think my soil drains well in most areas of the yard, and the front and back yards where I would put the trees both slope downhill away from the trees, which I suppose is good. I plan to mix the soil in the hole with compost and maybe some peat moss??

We definitely have the cold nights, even on hot days, if that is what honeycrisp likes! I do not know about the rust, will have to ask around.

One of the reasons I want apples and plums is that those are the abandoned trees I see all over the place that produce like crazy, despite the fact that no one is taking care of them. The family isn't too into pears. And I thought peaches were difficult? I never see peach trees here. My husband loves apricots but then he is from California :) Also I read in a few places that Liberty would not work for my zone? We do have late spring/early fall frosts, maybe that is the problem?

I love the raintree catalogue! The problem is, I still feel pretty lost with all the varieties to choose from. And western WA where raintree is is really a different climate from Eastern, much wetter and with milder winters. I tried to call them several years ago when I ordered for our old house and didn't find much help, but maybe I didn't know who to ask for, or which questions to ask. The biggest problem with my first attempt at fruit trees at the other house was deer. Even when I moved them all to the backyard, the kids would sometimes leave a gate open. The honeycrisp was too damaged and didn't make it, though the other 2 (which I don't remember the varieties . . .) were trucking along ok. Also I didn't realize that I needed to water so much to get things established. . . live and learn. Most of the trees survived and are growing along but we moved before I could get to the fruiting stage. At least in our new place we are nowhere near a deer route!

If you could plant 3 easy but yummy (I like tart, though not as tart as granny smith--my favorites from the store are pink lady, honeycrisp and jonagold) apples, and 2 plums, which ones would you choose?

Thank you again!

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 1:19PM
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Couple things. Jonagold is my favorite apple, but is more susceptible to stuff then some others. Also it does not pollinate other trees, So I call it a great 4th tree.. Shazuka is another great 4th tree, Keep on it and choose great varieties. It sucks to do all the work and not like your prodct all that well.

Not many peach trees in my area either (also Z5 but Iowa) but in my yard peaches are easier then apples. Have friend with them too.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 10:43PM
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How far away are you from the renowned fruit-growing areas of eastern WA, that you never see peach trees "here"?

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 11:01PM
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re. peaches, Wenatchee and Yakima are lot warmer than where I am!

Though actually there is an area in Spokane nearby called Greenbluff, where you can get peaches. They are uneven--some years good, some years not so much. I just don't really see peaches in home gardens, and have never seen an abandoned peach tree bearing as I see tons of apples.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 12:02AM
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Yes, the Spokane corner of the state is markedly different from the main fruit-growing areas. You may have to stick with what has local success.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 11:29PM
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