Getting started with fruit trees
Hi! I'm up in zone 5 Michigan (near lake Michigan, little finger area of the lower peninsula) and I'm attempting to make a start with some fruit trees.
2 years ago I planted a honeycrisp apple tree, which has grown a few feet taller, but not any fuller. I did get one clump of flowers on it this spring.
This spring I also planted a gala apple tree, which looks fine at this point.
My oldest son has been begging for a pear tree, and a local big-box store has one that is zone 4 hardy that I will probably pick up this week (Kieffer, although they also had Moonglow).
Here are where my questions start
Do pears also need a cross-pollinator like apples do? Should I just go ahead and purchase both, or will I be OK with just getting one?
Pruning. When do I do it, and what do I prune? Tips of the branches? What time of year? I've left them alone so far because they are so young, and I don't see the point in cutting off whole branches since none are crossing/rubbing.
Fertilizer. I'd like to keep things more organic, but if they aren't going to fruit for a few more years, I don't mind giving them a kick with fertilizer NOW.
Sprays. Neem oil? How often? Again, looking for more organically-inclined ideas here.
I've also seen comments about tying/training branches to grow horizontally rather than vertically. Some comments encourage it, others say no way.