Introducing myself to Scott's forum


I agree that you have it worse down there than we do up north. Those scorching summers must be hell on your trees. Folks in Arizona are much better suited to offer advice to you. All I can really offer is my sympathies.

I’ve got a layer of caliche between 6”-16” below my mediocre topsoil, though it does drain at a somewhat reasonable rate, so I don’t have to punch through it to have a tree grow, but it does lead to shallow rooting in the worst areas of my orchard and certainly does not provide much fertility. Still, my fruit tastes great in seasons I actually get it. Watering is a must. While it isn’t Vegas hot here, we do see high 80’s-90’s with occasional surges into triple digits from mid June through mid September with little precipitation. I’d need to add organic matter mixed three feet deep into my soil—or build a hill accomplishing the same—plus a super thick mulch to get my trees through a summer without irrigation. Maybe I’ll experiment with that setup and a few trees next time I expand the orchard.


Reno has a great climate for high quality apples. It’s got hot days in mid summer, cool nights and cool in fall. That and control of water are the keys. I believe Neil has reported 27 brix. That’s amazing for an apple. Reno averages only 7.4 inches annual rainfall. To grow apples or almost any fruit will require significant irrigation, probably 20-30 inches per yr depending on soil and application method. On shallow soil a lot can be lost below the root zone.

The negatives in Reno are frequent freezes and a short growing season.

Now Vegas is another story. Apples would need 2-3 x as much due to the much longer season and extreme heat. Nigras would likely grow a lot if they got lots of water. With the usual or what jujubes survive or even thrive on most fruits won’t grow much all summer.

Both are good for high quality fruit due to lots of sun, little rain, and heat when needed.


folks in az also offer us sympathies, lol! While it’s true that phx area has >110F many times in summer just like we do here, they rarely have hard freezes in winter. You’d see old orange trees at just about every corner there, but you won’t see those here. Sucks that most heat-tolerant species will be fine in summer here, but dieback, or totally dead after a hard freeze in first or second winter. Something phoenicians hardly worry about. Conversely, the cold-tolerant species end up getting scorched during summer, so not much left to try growing. Other than jujubes, apricots seem to be the only other drupes which thrive and manage to be productive > 10 years here, but all others have much shorter lifespans.

but then again-- even if admittedly sound like am whining, the stuff that we manage to grow here more than makes up for what we couldn’t grow :slightly_smiling_face:


I’ve been reading this forum off and on for quite awhile now, but finally got my own “name.” I live in the Upper Peninsula of MI on a small farm where we raise cattle, sheep and horses. I have horrible clay soil, a short growing season and cold winter weather (4b). Why would I want to grown anything here? :wink: I’m stubborn and am convinced I can have a small orchard/berry patch. I have a 3/4 acre pasture fenced off for my project. Last year I started with about 50 new plants in my yard’s landscaping, apples, haskap, dwarf sour cherries, blueberries, raspberries, beach plums, lingonberry… I’m sure I am forgetting some - but it was a good first step! I’m using the haskap and eventually the University of Saskatchewan cherries as a windbreak for the house and orchard. I’d like to landscape the property with mainly edibles. This year I am adding to it, but decided to try bench grafting some apples, pears and plums to add to the mix. I have made a few posts with questions and everyone here has been so helpful and kind. I really appreciate you all sharing your knowledge. Great bunch here!


Welcome on board, Amy. I believe we have several members who live in zone 4 and even 3, in Maine, MN, WI and some in Canada.

The one came to mind right now is @hungryfrozencanuck4b in Canada. He has had several interesting posts about his orchard and the success he has had. Hope he will chime in.


Hello @Amy. Read this and my earlier thread for ideas:

On old pasture if you have time it can be worthwhile spending 2-3 years improving your soil organic matter with a permaculture type approach of nitrogen fixers in summer and cover crops in winter.

#1 key for you is picking the right rootstock. For apples if I could do it again I would use Bud118 and crop heavily and branch bend to control size.

With SWD arriving I am de emphasizing late summer/fall berry crops like raspberries. Black currants and Elder flowers are high yield for little work.

Read my posts and feel free to ask questions.


Thanks for the advice @hungryfrozencanuck4b! The pasture had my sheep on it for two summers before I claimed it for my orchard. We are planning on tilling the rows and cover cropping them this year, and setting my grafted trees in a nursery bed to be planted out there at a later time. We will keep cover cropping and adding companion plants (N-fixers, berries, etc.) to the rows until I have them full. I’m putting the berries in between for now with the intention of removing them or letting them die back when the trees shade them out.

I use straw for bedding in the barn for the sheep and the occasional cow and I use that as mulch to amend what’s there, seems to be working so far. Most of my berries have been put in up in the yard, we just built our house a few years back and I never got to the landscaping part.

Rootstocks, I am trying Antonovka, EMLA 111 and Bud 118 to see what thrives. I have enough to do one of each scion on each rootstock for the most part. When you say crop heavily do you mean prune back for size control?

I did order elderberries this year to try, what varieties are your favorites? I think I ordered York, Johns, Adams and Nova.

I’ll check out your posts, thanks for the advice!


Welcome, Amy, hope you enjoy time on here. Sounds like you have a nice variety of fruits.

Don’t know if you’ve talked to or seen her already on here, but there is another member on here from the U.P. - @Sue-MiUPz3 might have some useful info as well.


Crop heavily I mean prune to a good structure but while doing so bend/train brances to horizontal to encourage fruiting instead of vegetative growth. Bend your leader when you reach the height you want instead of heading. Ect. This is discussed many places but the hands down best book for pruning/training Pears/Apples/Plums ect is:

Growing Fruit Trees: Novel Concepts and Practices for Successful Care and Management,204,203,200_QL40&dpSrc=srch

Antonovka is sold as growing true to seed. I have read reports from zone 3 growers that there is variability between plants and that during real test winters you can loose a significant proportion of your trees.
Antonovka - 90 planted 4 survived. 4% survival.
Bud 118 - 10 planted, 8 survived. 80% survival.

M111 I’d be worried even more than Antonovka.,360,360
zone 4 “Some M106 and 111 are doing just OK but no more, and are not very productive nor vigorous.”

Set yourself up for success. Would suck to put 10 years into a tree only to have it winterkill during a test winter.

For Elderberries can look at:

Of note: ‘York’ was the first genotype to bloom, compared with ‘Wyldewood’ which achieved full bloom an average of 15 days later."

I went with Bob Gordon and Wyldewood.

Bob Gordon for yield and downward facing berries with a late bloom time.

Wyldwood for late and staggered bloom so don’t lose all to a late frost.
Introducing the new star performer!
The enormous fruiting clusters with
berries up to 1/4” invert downwards
more than other varieties protecting
the berries from birds. Extremely
productive, with yields nearly triple
that of older varieties! Berries are
sweeter than most which makes
it perfect for pies, jelly and wine.
Vigorous shrubs grow to 10 feet tall with all blooms at once so it
ripens for two pickings.

The runner-up to Bob Gordon in yields, this
reliable and vigorous producer has a longer
range of blooming time (as well as ripening).
One advantage is that a late spring frost will
never wipe out the whole crop. It is slightly
more acidic, or has more of a ‘wild’ flavour
which makes it preferable for juice, etc.
Mature height 2-2.7 m (7-9 ft)


Hi Amy - Welcome! It’s nice to have another Yooper aboard. Sounds like a great adventure you have going. We may be a bit chilly and snowy up here but plenty of fruit grows well. And we don’t much have to worry about plants breaking dormancy early! We’re in south central here, about the same weather as you. Wishing you success and fun with your new orchard, Sue


Thanks for all the info hungryfrozencanuck4b. I just started reading The Holistic Orchard last night, so I’m getting more ideas on prepping the site. The info about the rootstocks was very interesting, thank you. I think maybe next year I’d like to try a few of the ones mentioned if I can find them. I also read a good chunk of your thread yesterday, very interesting! I like the website that keeps track of your plants. I have a spreadsheet I started last year to keep track of things, but I’d be happy to record things there for others knowledge :slight_smile: . Thanks again for all the info!

Nice to meet you too Sue-MiUPz3 ! Happy to know I’m not the only one “up” here :wink:


I love tropical plants. Our winter 2 years ago was 3 days long during the first week of January 2017. The early part of 2018 winter was typical, but from about the first week of Febuary, winter shut down again this year. Unfortunately, though, during January we had a one night of very low temperatures, i.e. about down to 21 degrees. We haven’t seen a low temp like that in many years, so, virtually all the tropical plants planted in the last decade or so are now “pushing up daisies”, pun intended. Temps down to 24 degrees were not enough to kill our Queen Palms through the past warm winters, but 21 degrees was more than they could take. I have seen a handfull that will likely survive, but only a handfull. So, my enthusiam for tropicals has now been replaced by my new enthusiasm for hybrid blackberry plants. They grew well the first 2 years in the ground, but, now this 3rd year, they are in turbo mode. The lowest temp here during my life was in 1989, about 11 degrees. No one living at that time had ever seen ice in Lake Pontchartrain before (nor since), but I saw it with my own eyes! But I stongly suspect the blackberry plants will merely yawn at 11 degree temps.
I used to have 2 greenhouses full of rare orchids collected over the decades, but Ms. Katrina decided that I didn’t really need them anymore.
That’s about it for my introduction. Glad to be meeting you folks.


Dan S.


Hi Amy! I can’t be of much help to you - we have such different environs. (I’m in Virginia.) But, I enjoy reading about other gardeners’ problems and solutions. I wanted to welcome you, too. :relaxed:



Welcome to our humble abode…

Where helping others adjust to their plantings’ needs is an everyday thing…
and where fruitful dreams never die.



hey, everyone! mucho thanks to scott for being the master of ceremonies.

been lurking here since last summer, and i want to express my gratitude for all i’ve learned from this community. started seriously gardening last year, though i’ve been tending a mystery pepper (probably a vietnamese tear jerker) since 2014. that was my gateway plant, and when it died due to lack of drainage (yeah, that’s how knowledgable i was), i wanted to make sure that i not only kept its offspring alive, but that i had tear jerker progeny that i could give away to friends and family.

last summer, the notion of growing other fruit entered my head and was unable to exit, and my readings & youtube viewing led me to. . . prime ark freedom, which has become a bit of an obsession, hence my handle. (really, there’s nothing spinal tappish about my moniker, not at all. :wink: ) i got a late start to growing them last year, and i have yet to taste a berry, but i’m marveling at seeing the primocanes now growing five inches taller in ten days.

other stuff i’m growing:
peppers: serranos, datils, and an almost-heatless korean pepper
brambles: cascade gold raspberry (thanks,@Drew51, for your recommendation over at gardenweb!)
herbs: chives, cilantro, and basil
citrus: lime (don’t know what kind; my home’s previous owner planted it)
other: a mystery tree that hasn’t born any fruit yet.

i’ve posted at gardenweb under the handle “erect and thornless.” gardenweb definitely has some knowledgable and helpful members, and i’ve learned quite a bit from that site as well, but the noise-to-actuality ratio seems high. from what i’ve seen, i really like the community vibe here at

for all i’ve learned and will learn from you, i hope to eventually be of help in return. cheers!


Welcome to the group! Like yourself, many of us are gardenweb refugees for similar reasons.


Welcome EaT! Hope you enjoy your time here. I see you’re in zone 10- so are you on the left coast?

I too have been struck with the blackberry (and raspberry) fever. I actually just received my order of 10 rasps and 4 BB’s today. A couple of them happen to be a PA Freedom, and a PA Traveler. I planted 7 Triple Crown cuttings a month ago, and 3 have sprouted. So, hopefully next year we’ll be awash in all kinds of bramble and other berries!

We have grown veggies every year since we moved here (2014), and my fruit obsession started two years ago. We hope to harvest some fruit this year for the first time.

Anyways, welcome again. You are amongst some very nice folks.


thanks for the warm welcome!

yup, left coaster and a newly minted berry enthusiast. heck, i’ve even watched dr. john clark’s blackberry lectures on YouTube and read hortscience papers on PAF and cascade gold. part of the fun of gardening is geeking out over nature and in return having nature put yummies in our tummies.

I wish I could plant more, but I don’t have much space, particularly adequately sunlit space. much of my gardening is of the container variety, but that’s ok — containers are dandy when it comes to pepper gardening.

thanks again to all who’ve shared their wisdom and experience, successes and failures on these pages. glad to be on this journey with you!


Hi Folks,

I’m Peter, new to fruit growing and very grateful to find a forum that is still active in 2018 where you can still actually learn something. I am a veteran of many old forums dealing with other subjects and the loss of forum culture to the utterly useless Facebook and Instagram formats has been a huge blow to those who wish to educate themselves on specific subjects. So I’m very happy to find you guys. I believe I first heard about the group from a Youtube video reference.

Anyhow, I’m in western Massachusetts, right on the Vermont border. Zone 5b. So it’s quite chilly up here and that will present some challenges. My wife and I have been on this north facing heavily wooded 2.5 acre lot for 15 years and we are thinking about moving in the next year or two. So that is yet another challenge, as I am loathe to put anything into the ground permanently. Luckily I am well used to container gardening, but I really wish I had gotten the gardening and fruit bug many years ago. I guess I’ll be making up for lost time this year.

Even though it’s still very early for us (1 inch of fresh snow this morning) I just picked up a bunch of blueberry bushes. Most all of them are still dormant so I figure I can’t screw this up too badly…I stuck several of the larger ones (1-2 year old bushes) into 9 gallon pots using a carefully researched mix of 30 year old composted wood chips, sphagnum peat moss, tons of perlite/rice hulls/pumice for drainage and a nice amount of fungal dominated compost, fresh worm castings, rock dusts, kelp meal and other organic amendments. Should be a decent acidic mix, plenty of nutrition without too much N and very well draining.

Also in the mix is a small Kumquat tree which just arrived from Logee’s, as well as a navel orange. Both of those will be going into small clay pots and I have a small indoor garden with powerful cob LEDs where they will live until it gets warm enough to put them outside for the summer, then back inside for fall and winter.

Arriving today will be a dwarf cherry from Gurneys. I’ll have to see what stage it is at, whether still dormant or not, and then decide how I want to deal with it.

Anyway, looking forward to hanging with you guys this year and continuing my backyard orchard adventures!


Welcome Peter.
There are a bunch of us here in MA. The closer to you could be @JinMA. Tfere are probably people in Vermont and NY who are closer to you than us who live east of Worcester.