Monday, January 23, 2012

Yakumo Asian pear

The Asian pear has been grown in Asia for centuries and more recently here in the United States. There are over 100 varieties of Asian pears but most of these are grown in Japan. We have 14 varieties here in our collection . These are sometimes called Chinese pears, salad pears or apple pears. They range in size, color, shape and flavor. The Yakumo Asian pear is the first to ripen in our orchard, usually the second week of August. The Yakumo asian pear has bright yellow thin skin. Its fruits are amazingly juicy, crisp, crunchy and have a sweet melon like flavor. They are perfect to eat right off the tree. In fact my sons and their friends circle around the trees for weeks eating these treats. And so do I.

The only real problems we have had is that the bears find them quite attractive and usually break off some of the fruit loaded branches. This we remedy with electric fence from about mid July to the end of harvest. The Yakumo Asian pear begins to bear fruit at a young age and needs another variety of asian pear for pollination. It also tends to over bear and needs heavy thinning to achieve bigger fruit size. We usually try to thin to one fruit for every 5 inches of limb. This usually requires taking off more than half the fruits. Besides eating the fruit right off the tree they will hold in cold storage for a few months.The pears make a great addition to salads both mixed with fruits or vegetables and are also great to use for cooking.They also are a very attractive tree and in the spring their flowers put on quite a show. We have really enjoyed these wonderful, productive trees.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wealthy Apple

In the early 1800s people were advised not to move to Minnesota because "you cant grow apples there". Apples were a staple at that time for most homesteaders. A few did not listen and tried planting orchards.All would die in a few years and some were planted three or four times without success. Many people planted apple seeds to try to have hardier trees. Finally in the 1860s after planting over a million seeds, the wealthy apple was the first to survive in the harsh Minnesota climate. In a few years the wealthy apple would become the first commercial apple in Minnesota and eventually was one of the top five most produced apples in all America. The color is yellow green with a red blush over it and some red stripes. Its flesh is tender but crisp, juicy and fragrant. The flavor is tart with hints of citrus and maybe some berry undertones.The tree is very hardy to -40 and is quick to bear.In our orchard it ripens mid September. Popular in southern planting as the fruits ripen there in early August.This tree is a wonderful antique apple and a great addition to any garden.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Artic Beauty Kiwi (actinidia kolomikta)

A wonderful addition for edible landscape.This plant is the hardiest of all the kiwi vines.A very ornamental plant with striking variegated leaves,beautiful flowers in spring and small tasty fruits in early fall.Both male and female vines are needed for fruit.Only the female will produce fruit.The fruit is fuzzless about the size of a small grape and has a very intense kiwi flavor with a hint of mint.The vines usually start producing their first fruits within a few years.The flower buds are not very frost hardy so care should be taken to plant in an area that provides protection.Our plants have done very well when planted near the house foundation.The three female selections we planted have the biggest fruits for this variety.They are Hero, Emerald and the largest is Viktor.These vine are also more attractive to cats than catnip but usually when the roots have been freshly dug.The only time I have seen our cat rolling in the plant is when I was transplanting them.