Nothing can beat picking that first ripe apple of the season. These days it is perfectly possible to grow a variety of fruits in your yard and enjoy the harvest of your own hard work.
If you are considering growing a fruit tree, one of the most important aspects of growing is pollination. Without pollination fruit trees will not bear fruit so it is important to understand what is needed for your tree to produce fruit.
Fruit trees tend to fall into two categories: self-pollinating, or those that require a pollinator.
Self pollinators are trees that do not require another pollinating tree in order to complete the process of pollination. These trees tend to be apricots, nectarines and peaches. Most of the trees that are hardy for our area are not self pollinators. Apples, pears, plums, and sweet cherries are all trees that do require a second pollinating tree in order to be pollinated.
In order to ensure your fruit trees pollinate I recommend having a compatible variety planted within 15-20 meters. This means having another variety within the same family of fruit tree planted nearby. If you are in the city you may not need to worry about a pollination partner for your apple tree as there will often be compatible apple trees or crab apple trees in neighbouring gardens. Pears, plums and cherries are less widely planted and you may not have a pollination partner nearby. A friendly visit to your neighbours to check what trees they have in their yard could prove to be fruitful!
Another key to ensuring your fruit tree will bear fruit is to make sure your two pollinator varieties bloom at the same time. On average, the bloom time for most compatible trees will overlap enough for pollination, but if you are only planting two trees it is a good idea to make sure they bloom at the same time.
In order to have pollination you have to have blossom, and in order to have blossom some of the buds must be fruiting buds rather than leaf buds. This spring’s fruit buds were formed the previous summer. Therefore if you have good spring weather but hardly any blossoms, it may be that the tree has been incorrectly pruned and you lost your fruiting buds. Don’t prune trees unless you know what you are doing.
There are a number of hardy apple trees that do very well in the Prince George area. Some of our favourites are ‘September Ruby’, ‘Norkent’, ‘Goodland’, and ‘Fall Red’.
September Ruby produces a great tasting, dark red apple that is crunchy and sweet. It can be compared to Pink Lady or Ambrosia apples that you find in the grocery stores.
Norkent produces a crisp, sweet aromatic apple similar to Golden Delicious. The apple is a golden green with a red blush.
Goodland produces a crisp, juicy, tender apple great for fresh or cooking. The apple is green with a red blush. Goodland has been doing well in Prince George for a number of years and continues to be a favourite.
Fall Red produces a crisp, white fleshed apple that has a taste similar to Gala. It is a good apple to eat fresh or for cooking. The apple is red in colour.
Fruit trees are highly rewarding and great for both the beginner and experienced gardener. Stop in and see our full selection of fruit trees and be on your way to your own delicious harvest this fall!
Jos Van Hage is the owner and operator of two Art Knapp Home and Garden Centres in Prince George
- Highway 16 west at Kimball Road
- Highway 97 North at Northwood Pulpmill Road