The first step, for us, in creating a market garden is to plant fruit. We feel that adding varied fruit to our garden will differentiate us from other growers in our area. We also wanted to offer varieties of fruit that weren’t common, to introduce back into the market varieties that you don’t see in grocery stores or at farm stands very often.
We plan on offering a variety of fruits and vegetables as part of our market stand and CSA in 2018. In addition we will be offering fruit products such as cider, fruit jams, jellies and butters. Since fruit trees and bushes take the longest to get established, we thought we best start with them.
Our plan, which has gone through several months of revisions, calls for apple, pear, cherry, plum, and almond tree (s). Peaches are notoriously difficult to grow in central Ohio and we have a scourge of grey squirrels that enjoy peaches a little too much to try and grow them so we have chosen to eliminate them from the plan
We sourced our trees from multiple locations. A local nursery provided the pear trees and we sourced the balance from Stark Brother’s Nursery. They are a regional nursery, located in Missouri that specializes in more rare, healthy trees and bushes. I ordered my elderberry bushes from them a couple of years ago and they have gone crazy with growth and production so I knew I could trust Stark Brother’s Nursery for quality products.
This spring, we ordered:
Orleans Antique Apple: Bred as a cross between Delicious and Deacon Jones apples, the result is a tree that yields sweet-tasting apples that will make great fresh eating as well as being a terrific cider apple. Antique variety, originates from Geneva, New York, circa 1924.
Cox’s Orange Pippin Antique Apple: Upright tree with a spreading growth habit. Fruit has a yellow skin with an orange-red blush. Complex flavor hints of orange and mango. Superb fresh and in pies, sauces, or ciders. Antique variety, originates from England, circa 1825.
Granny Smith: This classic favorite features a crisp bite and sweet-tart flavor. Tip-bearing tree yields a familiar green fruit perfect for fresh-eating, baking, and making cider. Fruit keeps up to six months in proper storage. Antique variety originates from Australia, circa 1868. Heat-tolerant. Ripens in early November.
Honey Crisp: A modern apple in high demand. Outstanding fresh-eating qualities make this variety an American favorite. Fruit is aromatic and sweet as honey with an explosively juicy, crisp texture. Originates from Excelsior, Minnesota in 1974. Cold-hardy. Ripens in early September.
Each of these trees require a pollinator to set and grow fruit and fortunately one tree was the ideal pollinating partner for the four other apple trees. The Heritage Golden Delicious: In 1914, Paul Stark Sr. introduced an apple with an outstanding flavor that was sweet and juicy with a hint of spice. This highly productive tree bears the sensational fruit that, when picked at its peak, is better than what you find in supermarkets.
We went a bit more modern with some of the other trees. For example, we chose the All In One Almond tree. This hearty tree bears healthy crops of delicious, soft-shelled nuts with the crisp, gourmet flavor of California almonds.
For our sweet cherry, to conserve garden space for market crops, we chose a modern graft that allows two types of cherries to grow on one root stock. Each tree naturally yields two varieties: deep-red sweet cherries and gold-blushed-pink Emperor Francis sweet cherries. Fruit is best for fresh eating, salads, jams, and homemade maraschinos. We also chose a Northstar pie cherry that delivers a heavy harvest of tart cherries perfect for pies, cooking and preserves.
To frame our garden entrance, we chose to create an arch of pear trees that will span the 6 foot path from one garden bed to another. We chose the Keifer pear and the Seckel pear. These are both good fresh eating pears that will also serve well for cooking and preserving. They are the pollinator for each other so joining them on an arch will facilitate good fruit production.
We will be adding an heirloom Damson Plum in the fall (they were out of stock) to offer delicious fruits as well as, what the English call Damson “cheese” which is a thick fruit spread, the consistency of apple butter. But in the meantime we chose two unusual plum trees that were available for spring shipping.
Shiro, this unusual yellow plum beats all others in appearance and taste. Luminous yellow skin covers sweet, juicy flesh. A heavy bearer, Shiro grows clusters of plums all throughout the tree. Introduced to America in 1899.
Starkling Delicious is not only the pollinator for the Shiro plum, but offers delicious fruit as well. Consistently bears heavy crops of round, sweet dessert plums with red skin and red flesh. Disease-resistant to bacterial leaf spot and canker. This plum was discovered in 1931 and introduced by Stark Bro’s in 1951.
The hard part was digging and prepping the planting holes. While there was never a home or building on our land, there was construction all around it and much of the scrap construction material ended up on these lots. Digging some of the planting holes required the use of a pick axe, but we dug through, augmented the soil and coated the roots and root balls of each tree with mycorrhizal fungi. Mycorrhizal fungi form a mutualistic relationship with the roots of most plant species; aiding in the absorption of nutrients and the prevention of disease to the host plant. Once planted, they need to be watered regularly for the first year of life to establish themselves well.
This is the first part of the fruit production we plan for Verdigris…next up…berries!