Home Orchard Starter Pack?

None of the Red Haven I’ve had were ever all that sweet. I’m sure it is reliable and plenty productive as it seems to be the most common one grown in local orchards, including pick your owns. But the brix is usually around 11, while good peaches are 13-14 and great ones are 16-20.


Suncrisp is an alternative to GoldRush with a long(ish) keeping ability where the season is limited for GoldRush to ripen. It ripens in Iowa in early to mid-October.

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Another data point: that’s not at all the case on the very western Northern California coast. Lots of climate variation in the west, of course.

Have you tried Contender? I have it on order from Adams, partially because it (and Red Haven) are by far the #1 “favorite” peach among those who responded to a survey on this web site.

I can’t report a lot on experience as I’ve just planted my orchard, but since I’m in 7b east coast, I have come up with this list of what I’ve planted as what seems to work here or nearby. Only a few should be experimental, I wanted to start with what was most likely to work first since so much in this area can suffer from rot.

Apple : Gold Rush, Gala, Hooples Antique Gold
Pear (asian) : Korean Giant
Pear (euro) : Magness

Peach : Nectar, Autumn Rose, Winblo, Indian Red, Carolina Belle
Nectarine : Fantasia (though mine is coming with fuzz, not sure if it’s correct)
Plum (japanese) : Satsuma, Weeping Santa Rosa
Cherry (sweet) : White Gold
Cherry (sour) : Juliet
Grape: Reliance

Pawpaw : All Peterson, Maria’s Joy, Halvin (any should work, establishing young grafted trees anywhere is challenging)
Persimmon (non-astringent) : Early Jiro
Fig : Chicago Hardy / Ronde de Bordeaux / Desert King / Black Mission (so far, Desert King has been the best cold tolerance, all have come back though)

Blueberry : Climax, Ochlockonee, Powder Blue, Brightwell, Vernon, Climax, Premier, Tifblue (Any Rabbiteye should work reliably)
Raspberry : Fall Gold, Black (can’t remember variety, got lost)
Blackberry : Prime-ark Freedom (though mine has thorns so must be something else)
Strawberry : Earliglo, Seascape, Albion (all doing very well, but planning to add more)

Feijoa: Nikita (planted near house on South side)

Melons: Everything! But the best cantaloupes for me seem to be F1 hybrids, they are much more resistant to the rain growing on the ground than heirlooms. Watermelon for me has been great, but there are probably better places in the country to grow them, I’m still happy.

So far, I’m getting lots of strawberries and blackberries this year, and quite a few peaches. Peaches I have bagged each with fruit socks, will see what happens there. Raspberry seems OK but attracts lots of pests, they eat the flower buds and the fruit.

Pawpaws I had hoped for much better results, I’ve gotten mine from England’s, but unfortunately they sent the first batch to the wrong address, so they sat in the box for a weekend. The replaced a couple with shipping paid, but those trees, only half have leafed out. My tiny tree from OGW has done the best in my opinion. I would like though to plant seedlings directly in the patch and graft over them myself for the future.

Super reliable fruit for this area seems to be: Blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and supposedly Pawpaw, Persimmon and Jujube based on my visits to another guy’s more established garden. Lots of things seem to work here experimentally including Fig, Kiwi, Feijoa and probably a lot more with a little extra care/placement. For example the friend I visited had both field grown Feijoa and ones up against his house, the ones near his house flowered and fruited every year, whereas the others don’t die, but rarely fruit.

Last, stone fruits and apples from reports seem like they can work, but late freezes can always kill things off. This year we had a couple close to freezing nights, but must not have done too much damage. Other years I can see where I may not get stone fruits.


I have both Earliglo and Jewel. Jewel is bigger and sweeter. I took out most of my Earliglo and keep my Jewel. I put in Mara de Bois this year.


For nectarines I suggest Zephyr (a late one; first week of Sep), which is a fantastic variety grown by orchards in PA, NJ, DE and MD. Silvergem is an early nectarine (mid July) with excellent flavor too and resistant to bacterial spot, which is a big advantage for all the wet region of USA.


I’ve had Suncrisp from several farmer’s market vendors. It wasn’t bad, but it was a milder and lower brix apple than Goldrush.

Yes, I’ve had Contender for several years now. It’s not bad. Decent flavor, with some acid to it. It has roughly the same window as Loring (maybe a week or two later). I don’t think it gets quite as much sugar and is much smaller.

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Last fall I kept buying Golden Delicious from a local PYO’s store. They had Suncrisp in the PYO but not the store and by the time I went up to pick it the sign said they were out. One of the Goldens was different. It wasn’t just sweet and aromatic, it was quite acidic and the intensity of its flavor was like getting a peak GD. Pretty sure it was a stray Suncrisp that found its way into the GD bin in the store. If that’s just a milder and lower brix GoldRush and “not bad”, then I really can’t wait til the GR I just planted starts producing.

Suncrisp is more aromatic than GoldRush, overall I probably like eating Suncrisp more. Also no issues with breaking a tooth on a Suncrisp. One problem with both is they are far too easy to pick far too early so there is a very good chance that a sample you did not grow yourself is not any good.

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I’ve had Earliglo for several years. It never seems to develop sugar for me. However, it does have amazingly good flavor if I add sugar to a strawberry shortcake puree.

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Mine was only good the first time it cropped. After that, they were smaller and not tasty in a subsequent year. Meanwhile, Jewel has remained a good size and sweeter strawberries under the same growing condition.

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Beginners would probably do best just to contact their county extension office for suggestions. The above choices would nearly all be a catastrophe here!

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i have AC wendy coming in. supposed to be the earlier and more cold hardy than earliglow with bigger better tasting berries.

I wound up getting Earliglow based on the reports here. People say it’s the best tasting June-bearing cultivar, so I might as well try it. I’ve also got Jewel, Flavorfest, and AC Valley Sunset. They all need to go into the front yard soon, hopefully tomorrow.

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I’ve had earliglow for 3 yrs. here. they are a very good heirloom variety. the ac wendy are actually going to be taking their place. another heirloom variety that has excellent taste is sparkle. the u picks around here still have some. used to be the only strawberry they grew 30yrs ago. they are a later variety but the flavor is fantastic! my neighbor has jewel and really likes them. good luck!

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Hi Steve,

Did your AC Wendy berries produce last summer? If so, how did you like them?

yes they did. were a very good berry. are super vigorus so ill have to do some serious thinning this spring. berries are big and taste was up there with earliglow. should be even more productive this summer. if you want some plants i can send you the ones i pull.

I would add a Native Persimmon listing: H-63A (A+ taste from Barkslip reviewer); Barbara’s Blush (WS8-10); Prok, excellent, precocious.

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Thanks Steve, actually I already have a few. They’ve been shaded and in non-optimal situations, and though very hardy, not sufficiently productive. But with your good report I’m inspired to give them a better opportunity. :slightly_smiling_face: