Planning a small orchard; seeking advice

FleebenApril 25, 2012

I have a small backyard area that gets a lot of sun (30x70) and I really want to convert that area into productive land but don't really want to expand the garden so much at this time. So I've decided to plant 2-4 fruit trees in the space. I already have two wild apples and what I am reasonably certain is a wild black cherry. The soil I am planting in is relatively rocky compacted clay - it is rich but very rough on roots. I have been doing a lot of research on fruit and feel like I'm finally ready to purchase some paw paw and pear trees. But before I spend what to me is a lot of money I do have a few questions:

Would you amend the hole you are planting in or do you simply sift and repack the soil?

There are several different types of pear rootstock. Quince rootstocks seem susceptible to disease and not as cold hardy as OHxF. Why do people use quince still(or is it being phased out)? Am I correct that I should look for a OHxF variety for fire blight resistance and cold hardiness?

Does anyone have experience with OHxF in a piedmont clay setting?

I really love soft melting pears like Comice but a truly ripe Bartlett is quite good. I am also intrigued by asian pears - but they only cross-pollinate one way? Is there any way to grow a Comice type and Hosui and get fruit on both or would I need a third tree/graft?

It seems like a lot of pawpaw transplants don't make it. How likely is it that a tree will grow on to be productive and fruitful if it survives the first season or so?

Are there any people who have productive clusters of pawpaws?

I ordered one Taytwo pawpaw from OGW, and I really wanted a Susquehanna but they were out. So for the second tree I am thinking of just getting a small seedling and grafting on to that as it grows. Really just any advice or success stories or pics from pawpaw growers would be great.

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blazeaglory(10 SZ22/24 OC Ca)

The general consensus is to dig the hole 2 time larger than root ball and mound the bottom of the hole with dirt, spread the roots over the mound, back-fill with original soil half full, water to eliminate air pockets, fill with original soil and make a mound. Then cover the top of mound with mulch, compost or manure and lime or sulfur depending on if your tree likes it alkaline or acidic (not really necessary).

The theory is the tree roots will search out nutrients if the original soil is in the hole. If you amend the hole the roots will not grow much. So the story goes.

You dont have to put all that stuff on the mound but at least some compost or aged manure and cover in pine chips if it gets too hot with sun.

If someone could show this pic or just follow this link it will show you an excellent pic of how to plant a tree.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2012 at 12:35AM
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By far the finest fruits on our place are the Asian pears. They are nice compact little trees that would work well in the scale of your yard. I think we have Hosui (early) and Korean Giant (late). Five stars!

I really like our Potomac pear (D'anjou/Bartlett cross) but it's gone standard on us, maybe overgrew its graft when nobody was watching. Properly harvested and stored, the pears ripen gradually for a couple of months, wonderful fresh or canned.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2012 at 8:07AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Fleeben, I prefer quince by far for non-asian pears. It makes for a much smaller tree that fruits much sooner. You can wait a long time for pears to fruit, I have many 10-year trees that have not fruited yet (not on quince). Also pears can really take off to the skies, even on the OH stocks you can get a 50' tree. Quince is not hardy in zone 4 but hey you are in zone 7! It should be fine. I don't think fireblight susceptibility of rootstock is all that critical for home growers, its more important in the commercial setting where profit margins are thin and if you can keep 1% more trees from dying of fireblight you just made money.

If you get a potted pawpaw the odds are pretty good. Several places sell potted plants. I'm not sure what you mean by productive clusters of pawpaws. They tend to grow in clusters in nature so I'm sure they wouldn't mind that layout.


    Bookmark   April 26, 2012 at 8:43AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

PS if the price doesn't give you a nosebleed get a Susquehanna from Edible Landscaping. A small plant in a pot will establish well.


    Bookmark   April 26, 2012 at 8:47AM
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First of all I'd like to thank everyone for all the information you have provided in such a short period. Naturally after reading all of these replies I have more questions.

blazeglory - thanks for the info this is exactly what I suspected and just the info I was looking for.

Scott - Your points about quince rootstocks are well taken. The reason I am slightly concerned about fire blight is because I already have two wild apples (one is a giant sprawling 30 ft tree that I am trying to get under control) and I would hate to lose either the apples or the pears which I want to plant to a disease that could have been prevented by a different roostock. Perhaps I have overestimated the severity of this disease?

Planatus - Do you have any experience with cross-pollination between european and asian pears? Ideally I'd like to have one asian and one european tree which will pollinate each other. What varieties will the Hosui asian pear pollinate?

Basically with the pawpaws I am just a little bit anxious because there seem to be a lot of stories where people plant the trees, they grow a little bit and then die 3-4 years down the road. Obviously this is a nightmare scenario for me! By contrast I really have had to work to locate any pictures of people with a few productive trees in a backyard setting.

I saw the Susquehanna at EL, but for that price seems pretty inflated.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2012 at 11:57AM
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Noogy(6 sw mi)

I've had awesome results this year with digging my paw paws from the patch on my property in feb, bare root. I assume they're clonal since they're attached by the roots. They're between 2.5-4' in height an plan to clone onto them next year if I can. I also pruned the branches back, and they've budded a fresh from totally new sites.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 8:33PM
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