Fruit tree recommendations?

zenmom42January 1, 2009

Hi out there,

I'm thinking I should be able to cram a couple or five dwarf fruit trees along the back of my garden. Most of my gardening has been in California and Colorado (both very different from New England), so I could use some advice. I looked for Extension Service factsheets or the equivalent and didn't see any out there. Anybody have any suggestions for good varieties of fruit trees (dwarf, pls) for Salem, MA? And what types of diseases or pests should I be looking out for? Should I be trying to get varieties that are resistant to any particular diseases, like fireblight?

Thanks in advance for any suggestions you might have,

Marcia Morrison

in Salem, Massachusetts

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diggingthedirt

I don't grow fruit trees, so I can't offer any advice on varieties, but the MA extension service has some great information on line at the link below.

I DO grow blueberries, and they do really well around here - not sure if you're interested in those or not.

Here is a link that might be useful: fact sheets at MA Ext

    Bookmark   January 1, 2009 at 2:02PM
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runktrun(z7a MA)

Marcia,
The growing of stone fruit in my neck of the woods along the coast is discouraged if not close to impossible due to the propensity of disease and general lack of environment that makes them happy. If I were you I would begin by noting how close you are to the nearest orchard and if you can discover what varieties they grow. You might even go and ask the local orchard owner for advice. My key question would be in a year with average rainfall how often do they spray. The answer will be very telling even if you are hoping to grow organic stone fruit. Good luck and let us know what you decide.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2009 at 10:20AM
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elizh(z5/6 MA)

Wow! What I have been hearing from fruit people in my part of MA/NH (near Lowell) is that apples are a poor choice -- too many pests -- but peaches are a good one! Pears are significantly better than apples. In my yard, unsprayed apples are a mess, pears better, and cherries seem to be fine (but the birds get them all!). And the blackberries are incredible... Trying to think what resources I can politely point to here -- the Fruit and Orchards gardenweb forum is fantastic! I also have the name of a good orchard consultant who is now in central MA (formerly here).

Some of our more popular pests and diseases: plum curculio, apple maggot, codling moth, aphids; apple scab, black spot, fire blight, pear psylla. I used to get the MA Extension newsletters, but now they charge $$ even for the email subscription. Also... first pick your varieties, then the size that you want (most catalogues offer semidwarf rootstocks but some will give you a choice).

    Bookmark   January 3, 2009 at 10:16PM
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diggingthedirt

I had a friend who was ecstatic when he found a house for sale that included an orchard. He finally realized that the seller was probably moving just to get away from the endless spraying. That said, we had an old pear tree at my first house, which was never sprayed or fed, and it produced quite a few nice pears every year.

The $64 Tomato is a great book for anyone contemplating growing fruit; the title is about a vegetable garden, but the author begins his agricultural adventure with an orchard. He remembers beautiful apples from an unsprayed tree in the yard of his childhood home, and tries to recapture that - not very successfully.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2009 at 12:58PM
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asarum(z6 Boston)

Marcia: I usually read these posts at work, not at home where my copy of New England Gardener's Book of Lists by Karan Cutler is . It is a great book because it has lists of recommendations from New England professionals. However, as pointed out above some factors are very local.

I don't grow fruit trees, but have been looking at fruit tree sites. Most of the fruit trees you buy are grafted, so it appears that you can purchase almost any type of apple (and many other types of fruit) on dwarf root stock.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2009 at 12:44PM
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familyfarmer(6)

Hi Marcia -
UMass Fuit Advisor is a great source. They list many techniques and disease resistant varieties - there are even pruning videos set to msic!

    Bookmark   February 27, 2011 at 2:58PM
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evonnestoryteller(5-6)

Interesting note about beautiful apples from the unsprayed trees. I recall the same thing!!! I wonder what has changed so much.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2011 at 3:40PM
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diggingthedirt

Evonnestoryteller, if I remember correctly, the "secret" to the author's dad's apples was that he sprayed the heck out of them, with the most toxic stuff he could get his hands on, when the kids were away from the yard.

LOL, when I read that I felt much better about "what has changed so much" since the good old days.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2011 at 5:58PM
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