My Backyard planting experience (Part 2) - Zone 4a/b Quebec, Canada


#1

I am still duplicating posts between Gardenweb and here so I am starting a new topic for continuity. This is a continuation of (http://growingfruit.org/t/my-backyard-planting-experience-so-far-zone-4a-b-quebec-canada/3256).

So far it appears that everything has survived winter but it is a bit early to say

First frost was Oct 16, 2015 which was nearly 1 month later than 2014 which helped give everything time to enter dormancy before winter hit in full force. The winter was long but not particularly severe. Minimum temperature was -32 celcius and we maintained a good snow cover through the coldest parts of late winter. Total snowfall for winter 2015/2016 was 203 cm. We had record snowfall on Feb 16 of 52 cm.

Annual thaw started 2 weeks earlier than the last couple years with melting happening March 28 with near full melt on April 1 with crocuses coming out of the ground.

We had a setback on April 9 with 1 foot of snow and -12C temperatures.

Final melt around April 12-13 with crocuses starting flowering.

April 16 Jostaberries and Currants had bud swelling, my rhubarb is starting to send up shoots and I grafted all my new apple scion wood (thanks to Konrad for the trades and O'Keffe Grange Orchard for bought wood).

Scions were: Apples: Norkent, Prairie Sensation, M360, Calville blanc d’hiver, Fireside, Ashmeads kernel, Williams pride and Wolf River. Plums: Nigra, Mount Royal, Green Gage and M800.

You can see the size of the O'Keffe Grange wood below.

April 17 – I wired up all my grapes (I am growing 4 trunks up onto a Geneva double curtain trellis. I leave 2 trunks up all winter and I lay 2 trunks down for snow cover to test hardiness) and I did my first prune to 5 buds on all spurs (when terminal buds start to swell I will prune down to 2 buds on each spur as this delays bud break by 1-2 weeks to help avoid late frost damage). Last year I noted that the trunks left up had bud break 1-2 weeks delayed compared to the trunks that were laid down AND while the protected trunks lost their fruiting bud in a May 23 frost the exposed non-protected cane had its fruiting buds survive to flower and produce fruit. This looks like it will be the same story this year. My Concord seedless pruned ends are bleeding from the vine left down (protected) while the vine that was left up is dry even though green wood is exposed. Somerset cut ends were bleeding from both protected and exposed trunks.

Here are my 5 bud spurs.

I also took cuttings of Titania, Ben Sarek, Jostaberries and my Mulberry. All were exposed to rooting horomone and then just stuck in pots buried in the ground. I scored above buds on Northbrite, Kenko and Taylor Apple to try and force primary scaffolds where I want them. I also pulled up my Concord grape and potted it because I am running out of room in my rows and think that Concord may not ripen in my climate. Instead I am going to plant Bluebell in its place.

April 19 – I received my Whiffletree order. As usual their service is excellent. I only ordered Tiben Black Currants from them this year and they were shipped on the 18th and arrived on the 19th. Well packaged, wrapped in plastic with moist cardboard cuttings and HUGE plants with massive roots. They appear to be 3 year old plants. Price was $15.95 each and $26 shipping.

Now I am just waiting for Valiant, Bluebelle and Swenson Red grapes and 10 Anonovka apple rootstock from Cornhill nursery which I have scheduled to arrive after my vacation in early May. I also have a bunch of seedling trees from treetime.ca for a erosion control project I have in a bush property. Work remaining is to plant all that stuff when it arrives. Bench graft some of the Anonovka rootstock and plant them. Graft some Konrad plum scionwood once my plums start shooting leaves and prune my plums at the same time (I prune them very late to avoid dieback during late freezes). So far shaping up to be a great season and I have fingers crossed for my first apples, grapes, cherries, haskasps and perhaps some plums/chums in addition to increased crops of currants, gooseberries, blueberries and raspberries.

More to follow as the season progresses.


My Backyard planting experience (so far) - Zone 4a/b Quebec, Canada
Introducing myself to Scott's forum
Sunburn on apples in plastic ziplock sandwich bags
What's the verdict on Honeyberries...are they tasty?
#2

I heartily admire you for growing your fruits in your zone. Thank you for sharing your adventure. I'm looking forward to seeing how everything progresses this year.


#3

Ok, so I have a day off so I will continue my summary of the year so far. This will be my more in depth annual report. For detailed info on first leaf and flowing information on my plants you can see my Gardenregister page at:
http://www.gardenregister.com/garden/hungryfrozencanuck/1/
I strongly suggest everyone here set up an account and enter their own data. Imagine if we had an accurate listing of hardiness, flowering dates, harvest dates ect that can be searched by zone and location! The framework is there, we just have to provide the data.

As mentioned earlier the winter was much easier than that of 2014-2015. Of additional benefit was the nice gradual transition to winter last fall as well as the extreme gradual arrival of spring which allowed for a late breaking of dormancy. That said during the melt we had morning temperatures of 1 degree Celsius while 7 days later we had daytime highs of 29 Celsius! So for example while last year my rhubarb crown break was May 1, this year it was May 10th, the grape that had first leaf May 9 last year was May 21 this year and my Kappa chum which flowered May 9 last year flowered May 21. So roughly a 2 week delay compared to spring 2015.

So now for the big report:

Apple - Pristine Bud9- DR (Planted May 2015 from Whiffletree) – Survived. No dieback. Single flower.

Apple - Redfree Bud9- DR (Planted May 2015 from Whiffletree) – Survived. No dieback. Couple flowers. 3 fruit growing. First fruit harvested September 2. Seeds just starting to turn brown. 90g. 12 Brix. Tasting note: Very crisp. Mild apple flavour. More acid than sweet but not puckering (eg. still sweeter than mcintosh). I liked it.

Apple - Crimson crisp Bud9- DR (Planted May 2015 from Whiffletree) – Survived. No dieback. Tons of flowers. This looks to be a GREAT pollinator as the flowers lasted a long time too. 2 apples.

Apple - Liberty M27?- DR (Planted Fall 2012 - Green Barn) – Survived. No dieback. Tons of flowers. Formed TONS of fruit. I think this is on M27 as it seems to have maxed out height around 6 feet. I thinned the fruit to 1 per cluster and they are sizing up nicely. I am testing bagging with some apples in ziplocks, some apples in Organza bags and some left exposed. The exposed apples despite being “disease resistant” were heavily attacked – some on higher branches and fully exposed are 1/4 the size of bagged apples. No difference between ziplock and Organza bags but the Organza bags were way easier to install and look much better on the tree.

Protected

Exposed

Apple - Egremont russet Bud9- H (Planted May 2015 from Whiffletree) – Survived. No dieback. Few flowers. No fruit.

Apple - MacFree M7 or M26?- DR (Planted Fall 2012 - alive and doing well) Green Barn. – Survived. No dieback. Few flowers. 2 apples.

Apple - Goldrush Bud9 - DR (Planted May 2015 from Whiffletree) – Survived. No dieback. No flowers.

Apple - Enterprise M7 - DR (Planted May 2015 from Whiffletree) (M7 is shipping error, it should have been Bud9) – Survived. No dieback. No flowers.

April 27 I grafted: M360, Prarie Sensation, Norkent, Williams Pride, Ashmeads Kernel, Calville Blanc d’hiver, Fireside, Wolf River. (Scion from Konrad and O’Keefe Grange)

Liberty and Macfree leafing out May 14 instead of May 9 last year.

May 24 – Hand pollinated Liberty, Redfree, Crimson Crisp and Macfree using a combination of wild crabapple and Crimson Crisp pollen.

Pear - Hayatama (Planted May 2014 from pepiniere ancestrale) Die back to graft union in 2015 and 2016. It had 2-3 feet of growth but appears to have either died back or had fireblight. Just does not seem hardy enough. I will give it 1 more year then let the rootstock sucker and graft something else.
Pear - Northbrite (OHXF 87? Planted Fall 2012 Green Barn). Has been struggling but last year put on 2 feet of growth on 1 shoot. No dieback on that shoot over winter. This year has shot up to 5 feet tall with some nice laterals.

Pear - Kenko (PYRUS BETULAFOLIA? Planted Spring 2013 Green Barn) Has been struggling but last year put on 7 feet of growth between 2 shoots, each with 1 cm diameter shoot. BUT had damage/fireblight on the trunk at the bud sites that then spreads around the trunk and kills everything above it. Just does not seem hardy enough. I tried cutting below the lowest damaged area to see what happens. It has again put on 4 feet of growth this year and I wonder if I can get a thick enough trunk with no green wood that it will survive better. Not quite ready to give up yet.

Pear - Taylor Apple (PYRUS BETULAFOLIA? Planted Spring 2013 Green Barn) Has been struggling but last year put on 3 feet of growth with 1 cm diameter shoot. No dieback over winter. This year has really taken off. Growth up to nearly 7 feet with nearly 1” trunk. Several nice laterals and some fruiting spurs. No evidence of disease. Will see what happens this winter, I will probably try grafting some other Asian pears on a couple laterals to see if I can get better cold tolerance and some pollinators.

Pear - Moonglow (Planted fall 2014 Whiffletree) - died back to graft over winter 2015 but sent up shoots that have survived last winter though I think they are rootstock. Has continued to struggle and will be torn out this fall.

Plum - Toka (myrobalan - Planted May 2014 from pepiniere ancestrale). Survived. No dieback. Few flowers. I grafted Mont Royal (died) from Konrad.

Plum - Superior (myrobalan - Planted May 2014 from pepiniere ancestrale) Survived. No dieback. It put on 7 feet of growth last year and it killed me to do so but I cut it back to 2 feet this spring to grow in an open vase. I sacrificed a lot of potential plums this year with this decision but it will pay dividends in the future. Several flowers on wood I left behind. This summer another massive growth year with 6+ feet of growth. This is a crazy vigorous plant that is 2x the size of Kahinta and 4x the size of Toka. Hope to get get some plums next year. I grafted Mont Royal (1’ growth) and M800 (2’ growth) from Konrad to this.

Plum - Kahinta (myrobalan - Planted May 2014 from pepiniere ancestrale) Survived. No dieback. Few flowers. Starting to add more growth with nearly 5’ shoots this year. I grafted Green Gage (6” growth) from Konrad to this.

Plum – Black Ice (Planted May 2015 from Whiffletree). Survived. No dieback. No flowers. Very bushy upright growth. Heavy pruning to open it up. No flowers. 2 feet of thin growth this summer. Really seems to want to be a bushy plant. Grafted Nigra plum (2’ growth) from Konrad.

Again, these plums are all planted in the wettest area of my clay yard. Standing water late fall and spring. So far so good. I tried hand pollinating the flowers this year but no luck. Crossing my fingers for next year. I grafted all plums on May 8th as buds were just starting to leaf out. Of the 5 grafts attempted 4 took.

Chum - Kappa (Planted Fall 2012 - Green Barn) Survived. No dieback. Tons of flowers.

Chum - Convoy (Planted Fall 2012 Greenbarn - died. Re-planted 2014 from Whiffletree) Survived. No dieback. Some flowers. This has grown 3 feet this year, I am hopeful for fruit next year.

Chum - Sapalta (Planted May 2013 Green Barn) Survived. No dieback. Tons of flowers.

Sapalta was peak flower May 14 of 2015 but May 22 this year. I only had successful pollination of a total of 5 plums between Sapalta and Kappa and all got eaten by bugs. I am shocked that despite the massive flowering, pollenization was so poor. I don’t know if it is a lack of bees or they are just poor pollenizers. I will try hand pollenating next year.

Haskasp – Tundra (Planted Fall 2013 from prairieplant.com) Survived. No dieback. Tons of flowers.

Haskasp – Aurora (Planted Fall 2014 from Whiffletree) Survived. No dieback. Tons of flowers.

Haskasp – Honeybee (Planted Fall 2013 from prairieplant.com) Survived. No dieback. Tons of flowers.

Haskasp – Borealis (Planted Fall 2013 from prairieplant.com) Survived. No dieback. Tons of flowers.

All the Haskasps were flowering around May 14 with Tundra perhaps a bit later. Aurora and Tundra seem to have the longest bloom time. The plants are still pretty small, about 18-24” tall. The new varieties Boreal Blizzart and Boreal Beauty seem to be amazing with much larger/sweeter fruit and flowering 2-4 weeks later! I just don’t have room!

Fruit was ripening June 15-20 but still tasted pretty sour. I heard leaving them on the bush made a difference so I left them longer. Well the day later the birds discovered them and took about 50%. I netted them quickly but will be sure to do so earlier next year. On July 1st I harvested the rest except for some Aurora's which were still ripening.

The ones labelled Honey Bee in my photos are actually Borealis. I also had Tundra and Aurora.

Aurora is by far the largest. Tundra and Borealis were similar in size. Taste test with my wife: For fresh eating Aurora won hands done. Borealis perhaps had a slight edge over Tundra. Measuring Brix Aurora (17, 14), Tundra (9, 9.8, 11.8), Borealis (12, 12, 11.2) so you can see why Aurora was more pleasant. In the end we ate the Aurora's fresh and I made a compote with the other 2 by mixing 1 part berries to 0.5 part sugar by weight and it was nice and tasty and acidic.

Yield post bird attack was tiny. Aurora 5 berries (8 grams), Tundra (41 grams), Borealis (32 grams). All are about 3 year old plants.

Saskatoon/Service/June berries – Northline (Planted May 2014 from saskatoonfarm.com)
Crappy shipping from saskatoonfarm (Plants were shipped bare root with NO MEDIA/moisture for roots. Shipping was by Greyhound and it took over 1 week. They arrived bone dry). Only 1 leafed out and it struggled since so I just planted it in the bush. July 13 I went to take a look at it and found it had actually fruited. Only a small handful and the fruit was over-ripe but it was delicious with a really nice nutty almond flavour. Really nice so I am going to plant some more.

Elderberry – Wyldwood (Planted May 2015 from Whiffletree) Survived. No dieback. Put on 4 feet of growth. Flowering first week of July and continued flowering until the first week of August. Started having ripe fruit last week of August and is continuing to stagger ripening into mid September.

Elderberry - Bob Gordon (Planted May 2015 from Whiffletree) Survived. No dieback. Flowering last week of June and continued flowering until mid August. Started having ripe fruit last week of August with bulk of fruit ripening at once. The mid august flowers did not get pollinated and formed no fruit.

Bob Gordon are the big suckers left and right, Wyldwood is small in front and in back. Bob Gordon came as bare root vs Wyldwood as plugs so size will probably catch up.

Bob Gordon

Wyldwood

Syrup

Infused Vodka

Total yield from 4 plants as of Sept 6 is 1238g (a couple hundred more grams is still ripening). Inedible fresh. Instead made into a syrup for ice cream and for adding to sparkling water as a refreshing drink. Delicious. Blackberry flavors.

Black Raspberry - ? (Planted Fall 2012 Green barn)

Purple Raspberry - ? (Planted Fall 2012 Green barn)
Purple Raspberry – Royalty (Planted May 2014 pepiniere ancestrale)

All are doing well. Some dieback at tips of certain canes but only some canes and then only 12-18” on 6 foot tall canes so it is nothing. These are planted right next to either a south facing or a west facing brick wall so there are MAJOR temperature swings during winter and spring and yet they still do fine. I think the west facing purple raspberries were water stressed last year so I put in an irrigation system this year and it helped some but yields were slightly down.

Total yield of 7.4 kg. Down from 9.8 kg last year. The Japanese beetles were bad again this year.

Grapes.
So I am growing my grapes for cold climate. They are multi-trunk (aiming for 4 trunks), on a Geneva double curtain trellis (trunk 1 left wire south, truck 2 left wire north, trunk 3 right wire south, trunk 4 left wire north). Then I am trying 2 different pruning methods. 2 trunks spur pruned, 2 trunks cane pruning. Then I am leaving 2 canes standing all winter (1 cane, 1 spur) and I lay down 2 canes for additional protection (1 cane, 1 spur). Finally to delay bud break I prune late winter to 5 buds from where I want to end up and then just as I am seeing bud swelling I prune again down to 2 buds. Only 2 of my vines are old enough to have made it all the way to this 4 trunk combination. Others are only at 1-2 trunks but you have an idea of what I am trying to do.

May 8 – Grapes that were protected over winter are at wolly bud stage while the exposed vines are mostly still dormant. Trimmed back all spurs to 2 buds.

Finally, I have found that trunks left up had bud burst delay by 7-10 days. However, “Polar Green”, Concord Seedless, and “Pink Pearl” showed greater than 50% fruit bud death in the exposed trunks vs those layed down on the ground (less than 10%). Somerset showed no difference but the vine is somewhat sheltered under an oak tree. From now on I will by laying ALL my trunks down each year and accepting the earlier bud break and using frost covers to try and protect from any early frosts.

FROST PROTECTION

Grape – Sommerset (Planted Fall 2012 Greenbarn). 3 trunks. No dieback on exposed or protected. Bud break at same time on both protected and exposed trunks. So far this is NOT a vigorous vine. Only 2-3 feet of growth this year. Could be because it is planted within the drip line of a Red Oak tree so it is competing for water and while gets full sun up to 2pm, afterwards it only gets diffused sun from 2pm onwards.

My Somerset grapes were amazing. They started changing color July 28 and I started harvesting August 8th and finished with the last bunch from the vine September 4. Early they are a paler red with a slightly spicy flavour with definite strawberry flavours. Early brix of 20-21. Later they turn darker red and become more aromatic. Sugar increased to a peak brix of 23. Acidity decreased and strawberry flavour was more prominent. My wife and I probably had a slight preference for the earlier taste but they were still winners later. They are a non-slipskin grape with a slightly crunchy texture. As of Sept 4 some grapes in the last hanging bunch were starting to shrivel. An absoluty wonderful grape and one that every cold weather gardener should have in their yard. I took samples to work and there were 100% unanimous amazement at the flavour and texture. Several people asked how they could buy vines for their backyard.

August 8

August 25

September 4

I got about 19 (small) bunches weighing a total of 935g. Expecting more next year.

Grape – Reliance (Planted May 2015 from Whiffletree). Vigorous plant with 10’+ growth. Should fruit next year.

Grape - Pink Pearl (Planted Fall 2012 Greenbarn). Vigorous plant with 10’+ growth. Tight clusters – would benefit from thinning. Not sure if it is the right plant as grapes are DARK purple when ripe (not pink) and have small seeds. Started changing color first week of August. Ready to eat about 2 weeks after Somerset (4th week August) when grapes have been purple a while and develop a sweeter more concord like flavour. Sept 6 still have some bunches hanging.

Grape - Polar Green (Planted Fall 2012 Greenbarn) 4 trunks.
Tight clusters – would benefit from thinning. A certain percentage of bunches have sections drop during ripening. Absolutly NOT a green grape. Has small seeds.
Started changing color first week of August. Ready to eat about 2 weeks after Somerset (4th week August) but a bit later than Pink Pearl when grapes have been purple a while and develop a sweeter more concord like flavour. Sept 6 still have some bunches hanging.

I wonder if this might be the same grape as “Pink Pearl” but the leaves are a bit different and the clusters seem to fall apart a bit so I am not sure.

Grape – Earliblue (Planted Fall 2012 Greenbarn) – 2 trunks. Died. Pulled up.

Grape – Catawba (Planted May 2015 from Whiffletree). 1 trunks. Unclear if survived – no bud break yet. When planted did not realize this grape ripens 3 weeks AFTER Concord. Doubt I have the season for it. Will try next year and if too short will pull out. This is why I am looking forward to more people using http://www.gardenregister.com/.

Grape - Concord seedless (Planted May 2014 from Whiffletree). Very vigorous vine with 8’+ of growth. Large grapes in loose clusters. Started changing color last week of August.

Grape – Concord. Nursery vine bought on sale at end of season last year. Planted in a pot simply to give me a benchmark to compare ripening of my other grapes too. Will probably end up removing. May be ripening earlier due to being I a pot with warmer roots but I do not know. Started changing color first week of September.

Grape – Vanessa (Planted May 2015 from Whiffletree). Vigorous plant with 10’+ growth.

Grape - Petite Jewel (Planted May 2015 from Whiffletree). I don't think this is the right plant. Very small, dark purple grapes with 50% of mass made up by seeds.

Grape - Bluebell (Planted May 2016 from Cornhill nursery). Just planted this spring. It was a small plant so to early to say about vigor but I do have 2 shoots that have reached my 6’ top wire.

Grape – Valliant (Planted May 2016 from Cornhill nursery). Just planted this spring. It was a small plant so to early to say about vigor. Has not reached the 6’ wire.

Grape – Swenson Red (Planted May 2016 from Cornhill nursery). Just planted this spring. It was a small plant so to early to say about vigor. Has not reached the 6’ wire.

Blueberries – Chandler (Planted Fall 2012 Greenbarn) Survived. Flowering but not thriving. Couple berries first week of August.

Blueberries – Northsky (Planted Fall 2012 Greenbarn) Survived. Flowering. Tiny berries (1/4 inch) on a tiny plant. Pulled out.

Blueberries – Toro (Planted Fall 2012 Greenbarn) Survived. Flowering but not thriving. Got a handful of berries first week of August. They don’t like my soil.

Blueberries – Patriot (Planted Fall 2012 Greenbar) Survived. Flowering but not thriving.
No fruit. Pulled out.

Blueberries – Pinklimonade (Planted fall 2013 from local) Looks like dieback over winter again. No berries. Not hardy for zone 4. Pulled out.

Blueberries – Duke (Planted May 2014 from Costco) Survived. Flowering but not thriving. Got a handful of berries first week of August. They don’t like my soil.

Cherry – Romeo (Planted Fall 2013 from prairieplant.com) Survived. No dieback. Few flowers. No fruit still.

Cherry – Cupid (Planted Fall 2013 from prairieplant.com) Survived. No dieback. Few flowers. No fruit still.

Cherry – Juliet (Planted Fall 2013 from prairieplant.com) – Survived. No dieback. No fruit still.

Cherry - Crimson Passion (Planted Fall 2013 from prairieplant.com) – Survived. No dieback. Few flowers. No fruit still.

Still growing. The deer LOVE these so they keep getting haircuts which is not helping them much. Going to try and fence them better.

Seaberries - (Planted Fall 2012 Greenbarn – Survived winter).

Appear to be males. Planted in a rural area on heavy clay with no irrigation. Growing like crazy. These are TOUGH. Bone dry soil for weeks at a time, nutrient poor – not even grass is growing but these still grow.

Mulberry - Seedling (Planted Fall 2012 Greenbarn) Survived. No dieback. THIS IS A MALE. Man I am ticked off with Greenbarn. Totally useless and they wasted 4 years. I got tons of flowers/fruiting bodies which dried up and fell off. Looks like a male. I’ve trained this plant for 4 years and the trunk is approaching 3 inches in diameter. Need to decide if I top work or simply graft to a sucker. Advice anyone?

Graft this sucker and cut down the trunk (and live will millions of new suckers?)

Plumcot - Taylors Gold (MARIANA 26-24? Planted Fall 2014 from Whiffletree) Survived. No dieback. Really taking off this year. 4’+ of growth. Coming along nicely into an open vase. Going to try grafting apricots to a couple branches if I can get some scions.

Strawberry – Albion – Everbearing (Planted May 2014 from Costco – survived winter)
Strawberry - All Star – June bearing (Planted May 2014 from Costco – survived winter)

I left these uncovered this winter and the runners survived. First year fruit size is fine but 2nd year they go tiny. I also lose too many to birds to make it worthwhile so I am pulling them out.

Rubarb - Victoria? (crown has been propagated in family for +80 years over 4 different moves!) Survived and thriving. 13.274 kg harvested with at least 1 more harvest to go.

Rubarb - Strawberry Red (Planted May 2014 from Costco) Dead.

Heartnut – Imshu (Planted May 2014 from Whiffletree – did not survive winter 2015) Sending up shoots from roots.

Heartnut - Campbell CW-3 (Planted May 2014 from Whiffletree – did not survive winter 2015) Sending up shoots from roots.

Medlar - Giant Breda (Planted May 2014 from Whiffletree – died back to graft 2015). Struggling along. Probably will die.

Medlar - Royal (Planted May 2014 from Whiffletree – died back to graft 2015). Struggling along. Probably will die.

Heartnut and Medlar are planted on a rural property in quite sandy soil. They got heavily eaten by deer in the fall 2014. Some mice damage over winter 2015. I saw some re-growth from the graft of the medlars last year and they seem to be leafing out this spring from those shoots. The Heartnuts both died down to ground last year but then sent up shoots from the seedling roots. Those shoots appeared to survive this winter and I am letting the grow to see what happens.

Gooseberry - Black Velvet (Planted Fall 2014 from Whiffletree) Survived. No dieback. Lots of fruit. Small and tart despite reaching 16 brix 4th week of July. Ripens last week of July – 1st week August. To tart for me and my wife for fresh eating but makes a great jam.

Gooseberry – Tixia (Planted Fall 2014 from Whiffletree) Survived. No dieback. Many flowers. Started ripening July 13. Fruit looks like Poorman but more tart. Ripens last 2 weeks of July.

Gooseberry – Poorman (Planted Fall 2014 from Whiffletree) Survived. No dieback. Many flowers. Ripens last 2 weeks of July and reached 16.5 brix. Much less acidity and was great for fresh eating.

I had HUGE issues with currant worms. They defoliated 50% of my plants before I caught them. Interestingly, while EVERY Gooseberry leaf had 1 if not 2 worms, the black currants and Jostaberries had NO worms. I wonder if the Gooseberry served as a trap crop? I picked them off and dropped in soapy water, after 3 days of doing this I had 90%+ control.

Currant - Ben Cowan (Planted Fall 2013 from local) Survived. No dieback. Many flowers. Harvest began July 12. Total 384g. This is a small plant, planted in my clay soil from a crappy potted nursery stock.

Currant - Ben Sarek (Planted Fall 2014 from Whiffletree) Survived. No dieback. Many flowers. This is shorter plant than Titania with a more spreading nature. Harvest started 3rd week July. 1097g. 12 Brix.

Currant – Titania (Planted Fall 2014 from Whiffletree) Survived and flourishing. No dieback. Tall, upright canes. Needs to be staked/supported or the weight of MASSIVE crop will lay the canes to the ground. 2576g from 1 plant! Peak harvest 3rd week July with some later ripening in 4th week. 15 Brix. I LOVE this plant!

Currant – Tiben (Planted Spring 2016 from Whiffletree). Only planted this year. I did get some currants but were small and hard, not sure if representative.

I LOVE currants. Easy to grow, you can’t buy them in stores and they laugh at early season frosts.

Josta Berry - (Planted Fall 2014 from Whiffletree – survived winter). Survived and flourishing. No dieback. Many flowers but hardly any fruit! I have 2 of these planted. They now spread 5 feet x 5 feet. Each plant takes up nearly 2x the area as Titania but Titania gave me 2.5kg of fruit and each of these gave me 8 berries! EIGHT berries!?! They are right next to Titania, Tiben and Ben Sarek so it can’t be pollenization. The berries produced were only as big as my large Titania berries and not even that good. I am giving them 1 more year but if they don’t shape up they are being torn out.

Paw Paw – Seedling (Planted May 2014 from Whiffletree) - Survived. No dieback. Really taking off this year. Nice healthy looking plant now reaching 2 feet tall.

Paw Paw - Campbell NC-1 (Planted May 2014 from Whiffletree) – Struggling. Hardly any growth each year. I am going to try grafting it to some of the branches of my seedling to make sure I have future pollinators.

Garlic – Nothing like home grown garlic instead of that no-flavour Chinese garbage. Plant in fall and harvest in summer. Break open your big bulbs in fall and replant. Yum, Yum!

I just had 2 big projects this year. First is irrigation. Last year I installed 700 feet of underground soaker for a cedar hedge around my backyard. This year I have tied into this soaker hose in 5 places to bring water to other areas. I placed a manual valve at the tie in point then ran ½ inch non-perforated pipe underground and then put spray heads at each tree/large shrubs and drip outlets to my smaller shrubs. In total about another 500 feet of underground piping but now to water 1 zone I just have to flip a valve and come back in 3 hours to turn it off.

My other big project was grafting as I mentioned in my earlier post. 8 different apple varieties but with the amount of wood I had it was about 25 different grafts. 4 different plums in 5 grafts. So far amazingly I have around 95% take! I tried a variety of methods. Inside where it was warm I wrapped the scion wood including both ends fully in parafilm (http://www.superiorvalueproducts.com/2-x-250-Role-of-Parafilm-M-Laboratory-Wrap-Part-Number-PM992_p_2288.html). $26 +$16 shipping for 2” x 250’. I cut into 1” strips so 500’ will last me a while. This was to avoid damaging the graft union site after and to avoid having to use grafting wax/paint (which I could not find locally). Then on the day of grafting I would just cut the length of wood I wanted and wrap the exposed terminal end in another piece of parafilm. I would do the graft (a mix of cleft, whip and some using a grafting tool (https://www.amazon.ca/Professional-Pruner-Grafting-Cutting-Blades/dp/B00NL8OAOA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473184239&sr=8-1&keywords=grafting+tool) to cut specific male/female shapes. I then tightly wrapped the junction from about 1” below the graft site in parafilm up to 1-2 cm above the site then tightly wrapped the union in black electrical tape. My grafting “knife” was simply an exactoknife (boxcutter) that I dipped in pinesol between each cut. My wedge to open clefts was simply the one blade of scissor hammered into the wood, frequently one side would get the cambium torn up a bit but the other side was fine. This cheap and dirty method seems to have worked fine so far.

95% of my plum and apple grafts took. No difference between cleft, whip or the special tool grafts. Given ease and better sterilization I will stick with the exacto knife from now on.

For bugs my main battle is with Japanese beetles. I can’t imagine what gardening would have been like before they came. Must have been heaven. For control I simply walk 1-2x per day with a bucket of soapy water and tap the leaves to knock them into the bucket. I have 1 acre surrounded by acreages. Nematode treatment would cost a fortune and probably not work that well for me.

The only spraying I do is 1 time with dormant oil at the end of winter to all my trees. I then bag all my grapes and apples. When I have them I will probably bag pears and plums too.

To reiterate on the subject of bagging fruit. Ziplocks caused my grapes to rot. Organza bags were perfect. http://www.yourorganzabag.com/organzabag.htm. I used Moss Green as they are not visible in the foliage. I used the 6x9 bags but are they are a bit short for long grapes. Perfect for plums and apples and small bunches of grapes. I think they would work awesome for peaches as they breath very well but keep the bugs/birds out. After 3 months exposed to environment they still look new. So far with apples there is no difference between ziplocks and Organza bags except the Organza bags are much easier to install, you can tie the string around the branch to less drop due to wind/squirrels, and they look MUCH better. I will be using Organza bags 100% for my fruit bagging needs.

You might say the vent holes are too small in the bottom of the bags but when I cut larger the wasps and earwigs got in.

So there you go. My backyard orchard is maturing nicely. Production should be ramping up nicely but I am probably still 2-3 years away from everything starting to produce in decent quantities. I am pretty much out of space now but seeing how easy grafting was, I will be getting a bunch of different apples and plums for next year. After lusting over Konrad and Matt’s apricot photos I am going to try grafting some of those too.

Until next time.


Bagging plums with bread bags. Open to suggestions/comments
#4

Wow! You went to a lot of work to post this. I have many of the same varieties, so it is interesting to compare. I especially liked your notes on the Haskaps. I have Berry Blue, Blue Belle, Borealis, Tundra, Aurora, and 3 kinds of Yezberry. The Auroras do seem to offer more promise than the rest, which haven't impressed so far with flavor or yield.I also plan to add the Borealis Blizzard and Beauty when they are available. They sound like a vast improvement for fresh eating and easier picking.


#5

Holy smokes. That must have taken awhile to put together!

Your grapes look fantastic.


#6

northwoodswis4 and warmwxrules. Thanks for the note. Yep took a bunch of time but I take the photos and calculate the yields for me as well. Helps me look back on the years. I like putting this info out there because when I started out people told me I could not grow certain stuff in my zone and in particular I could not grow in my heavy clay with water issues. I want to show people what I have tried and what worked and what did not work. Which rootstocks, which varieties, ect.

There is not a lot of agricultural literature for zone 4 and below so we need to be experimenting ourselves because you can't always trust the nurseries. I also like it when people tell me "I like variety X and also Y and Z but not A and B". Well that helps a lot because if I happen to like X and dislike B as well, I then know I should probably try Y and Z but not A.

Anyways, keep posting and consider signing up for http://www.gardenregister.com/.


#7

Just wanted to say I applaud your efforts and very much enjoy your postings on this thread. Keep us posted!


#8

Ben Nevis, from T& T seeds, might be a good alternative to Tiben.
Short plant, but productive and berries are sweet and juicy.


#9

Thanks. I think I am fine for varieties now. Tiben, Titania, Ben Cowan and Ben Sarek. So far I have been taking cuttings of Titania and just sticking them in the ground. Wonderful growth habit, huge delicious berries and crazy productive.


#10

Nice looking grapes.


#11

Well my apple season is coming to a close. I am leaving 4 Liberty apples hanging on the tree to see how they evolve. But those 4 apples and some rhubarb are all that are left.

I only got 4 types of apples this year but looking at bud development I hope to have many more types to taste next year.

We had our first frost October 10 with 4 more nights of frost that same week.

From early to late:

Redfree: I only had 3 of these apples. In august they had not fully changed color and did not release easily so I left longer. First I picked September 2 and the seeds were just starting to turn brown. 90g. 12 Brix. Tasting note: Very crisp. Mild apple flavour. More acid than sweet but not puckering (eg. still sweeter than mcintosh). I liked it. I finally picked the other two on September 11. One apple was fully red, sweet but softer and borderline mealy. 14 brix. I believe it was over-ripe. The 2nd apple had some green to it, was crisp with a nice balance of sweet and acid. 12 brix. With only 2 apples I really could not comment much on them. From this experience I would say Redfree ripening date this years was 2nd week of September after hand pollinating May 24 (110 days)

Redfree 12 brix apple

Redfree 14 brix apple

12 brix seeds left, 14 brix seeds right

Crimson Crisp: I only had 2 of these apples. They are supposed to ripen late September into October but I picked one on September 15 because it was mostly red and released easily. The seeds were all brown. Apple looks a bit like a small red delicious. 126g. It was VERY dense and slightly sour. I picked the second apple September 24. It was now fully red. 95g. Very sweet at 14 brix with very little acid and yet extremely crisp and crunchy with a very nice flavour reminiscent of a good red delicious. I am looking forward to having more next year! From this experience I would say Crimson crisp ripening date this years was 4th week of September after hand pollinating May 24 (123 days)

Crimson Crisp Sept 15 apple

Crimson Crisp Sept 24 apple

Liberty: This was my main apple producer this year. It is a tiny tree – I think on M27 as it tops out around 6 feet. Covered in apples. I only bagged about half to see the difference between protected and non-protected and there is a huge difference. Non protected were occasionally ½ the size, malformed and with some bad cracking and bug damage. First apple tasted was a windfall on September 4 and was sour. Picked again September 21 but seeds still not brown. 11 brix. Dry, not juicy. Tangy. Picked again September 30 and now it was crisper and jucy but still very tart and some seeds were dark but others light. 12 brix. October 10 I picked more. The ziplock protected apples were darker red, crisp, jucy and sweet. The organza protected apples were slightly less red, softer and sweeter. October 11 picked again and the Ziploc was more red, less crisp and very sweet. The organza apple was less red, some skin damage a bit more acid. On the 11th both were 15 brix. I trimmed an unprotected apple that was damaged and still had some green and it was very crisp and nice balance of sweet and tang. From this experience I would say Liberty ripening date this years was 2nd week of October after hand pollinating May 24 (140 days)

Liberty Sept 30 unpolished

Liberty Sept 30 polished - Yummy!

Liberty Oct 4 ziplock protected left, unprotected right

Liberty Oct 11 unprotected left, organza middle (note cosmetic damage done through the bag and less red coloration), ziplock protected right

Macfree: I only had 2 apples. My first apple I picked October 13. Pretty apple. Striated skin but the “green” is less green than Liberty but more a golden yellow/brown. 100g. 14 brix. Tasting sweeter with less acid than Liberty. Softer and less crisp than Liberty, a bit more like a McIntosh you get from the store. Flavour difficult to describe. Inoffensive, pleasing and pleasant. Ate alternating slice by slice with Liberty in combination with a sharp cheese and both were delicious. Different enough in flavour profile and texture that you could grow both. I think people who like slightly tart apples would prefer Liberty for the taste and crispness. 2nd apple was 153g and I picked October

From this experience I would say Macfree ripening date this years was 2nd week of October after hand pollinating May 24 (140 days)
Macfree Oct 13

Continuing my grape report from the last post.

So called Polar green (which is purple) continued to improve. September 4 was sweet, grapy and delicious. September 10 was 21 brix and very good. September 15 was 22 brix and starting to shrivel a bit. I would say best eating was first 2 weeks of September. Biggest problem with this grape is that the bunches have some grapes/clusters that break/drop in wind and after rains.

So called Pink pearl (which is purple) started shrivelling around Sept 10 and peaked at 19-20 brix. Peak flavour was probably last week of August and first week of September.

Concord seedless (which has seeds) started being edible September 15 at 17 brix. Became darker and racoons starting climbing the vines to get them September 20 at 16 brix but delicious with a very Concord taste. September 24 18 brix and some were starting to schrivel a bit but very delicious. September 30 18 brix and at their peak. Grapes would split when being pulled from the bunch. Absolutely delicious. I would say ripe 3rd and 4th week of September.

Concord. Exact same dates as my “Concord seedless” which makes me think my “seedless” is actually standard Concord. Although ripening was more uniform with my “seedless”.

Petite Jewel is probably actually Petite Pearl as my grapes are seeded. Small, tight clusters of very sweet grapes with nearly 25-50% seed mass in the grape. Harvested October 14 – 25 brix. I will be pulling this out as I want table grapes.

I am still harvesting Rhubarb so by far that is my heroic fruit of the year. Started harvest May 26 and still harvesting as of October 15!

So with harvest over, I am now starting to plan my scion wood orders for 2016. Pears, apples, plums, apricots. I can’t wait!


Apples without pesticides
Apple Experiences 2016
#12

2017 Report
So another growing season begins.

First frost last fall was Oct 11, 2016, 5 days earlier than 2015 but still better than Sept 19, 2014. Last frost still to be determined. Looking like -1C this upcoming Monday and Tuesday! Just hope not like last year which was May 17, 2016 or even worse, May 23, 2015!

The winter was very long again this year. First snow was Oct 27, 2016 and last snow was April 1, 2017. This is 156 days, more than 5 months with a total snowfall of 309 cm (over 10 FEET!). Minimum temperature was only -30C and seeing as we did not get many warm spells we finished winter with nearly 5-6 feet of snow on the ground when the melt came which means all trees and shrubs survived. However, this large snow accumulation brought new problems this year because it would snow, then if it warmed or had ice rain it would form a sheet of ice that would attach to low scaffolds and then when the snowpack would settle it would rip the branches off the tree. From now on I will ensure all scaffolds start at least 3 feet off the ground.

Final melt was April 11-12 which was 2 weeks later than 2016 (near full melt April 1, 2016 but then 1 foot snow April 9 with final melt April 12-13, 2016.

Crocuses started flowering April 15 which was 2-3 days later than 2016.

One thing different this spring is the amount of rain. April had 147mm of rain, nearly 6 inches! By May 7 we are anticipated to have over 100mm of rain (4 inches) in the first week of May! I have a great deal of standing water around so I guess I am going to see truly how collar rot resistant my trees are. While they are in raised mounds, by now 90% of the roots are probably deep enough to be swimming.


I also had more vole damage than in previous years. I had protected all my regular trees but have not protected my bushes. This year I have discovered that voles like Gooseberries and they also found some 1 year old rootstocks I grafted but forgot to protect/paint. I will know better for next year. So far I have ZERO damage to plants protected with a mixture of latex paint, joint compound and water in a 1:1:1 ratio that is painted onto trunks and lower scaffolds in the late fall. No evidence of south/west injury either.

Grafting
Last year was my first experience with grafting and it was so easy and successful that I may have gone a bit overboard this year with grafting with over 100 grafts. Main reason for this is that I have reached a ceiling limit for the number of trees my spouse will let me plant so to add varieties I need to graft them. That and the fact that I would rather have a dozen or two of fruit from a grafted branch picked and eaten at the perfect time as opposed to having to find things to do with a whole tree all ripening at once.

This year I have added the following items to my garden by either planting trees or grafting:

Apples
Carroll
Chestnut
Scarlet O’Hara
Summer Red – found apple
Sweet 16
Trailman
Yellow Reinette – found apple

Apples (zone 2)
Altari mountain - applecrab
Amber - applecrab
September Ruby
Sunnybrook
Redstar (perhaps Red Mike)

Euro pears
Beedle
Golden spice
Harrow Sweet
Harvest Queen
Julienne
Krasnobokaya
Krazulya
Lucious
Patten
Dome – found pear
Vekovaya

Asian pears
Kikusui (or seedling of Kikusui)
Olympic
You China

Plums
Alderman
Brook Gold
Brook Red
Damson white
Green Gage
Gypsy Chum
La Crescent
Mirabelle
Opal
Petite de la Sour Mont Royal
Red star
Sinikka
Skiba
Sprouts Sunshine

Apricots
Riley apricot
Riley seedling apricot
Westcot apricot
Debbies Gold

Peach
Harrow Diamond
Vulcan
Chinese

Grapes
Brianna
Canadice
Einset
Himrod
Kay Gray
Montreal Blue
Prairie Star
Roland
Skookum
Swenson white
Trollhaugen

Persimmon
Seedlings

Haskasp
Boreal Blizard
Boreal Beauty

Mulberry
Illinois Everbearing

Phew. It was nearly 2 solid weeks of planting and grafting every day after work and on the weekends.

Here is an example of my crazy grafting - voila my new Frankenpear! Yes some of the scaffolds are too close but I had too much scion wood and not enough places to graft so I am going to nursery them this year and then cut the cramped branches back this fall and re-graft next spring on wood that grows this year.

Orders
Purchases this year were from:
Treetime.ca
Whiffletreefarmandnursery.ca
Hardyfruittrees.ca/
Silvercreeknursery.ca
Vigneschezsoi.ca

I have not received my order yet from Silvercreek or Vignes chez soi but was happy with what I received from the other 3.

Yet again Whiffletree impressed with the size and roots. I can’t recommend them enough.

The 2 bundles to the left are Antonokova and OHFX97 root stocks, then 3 persimmon seedlings then 2 Debbies Gold apricot on Mustang and then La crescent plum.

Flowers
It is a bit early still to tell but things are looking VERY good for this year. Last year I got berries and 4 apples (Liberty, Macfree, Redfree and Crimson crisp). No pears nor plums. This year I see A LOT of what look like flower buds on all my planted apple tree, most of my grafts that took last year and all my plums and chums. I am really crossing my fingers for no late frost this year so I can really start tasting more stuff!

Pest protection
Only 1 spray of dormant oil so far. I have neem oil that will probably paint on my trunks for borers. I will continue to bag my apples and grapes. I want to try spraying Surround on my plums (I had a couple plums that pollinated last year but all aborted from PC worms). Problem is that while Surround is classified as a class 4 pesticide here and should not require a certificate to purchase or use the local vendor calls it a class 3 and won’t sell it to me. As I only want to buy 1 bag it is not like I have incentive for him to more closely look at their restrictions. So I am reading a textbook and will take an exam to get my pesticide license just so I can buy stupid powdered kayolin clay that is less harmful than powdered concrete. We will see if I can get this done in time for fruiting!

So there you go. Spring report done. I’ll be back later in the summer/fall to fill in on how it goes.


#13

ooh, how does the Carroll Apple taste? I requested some material from GRIN but never tasted it my self.


#14

I just grafted Carroll so I can tell you in 1-2 years…


#15

Life is too busy and I like to do a nice post with photos so it is late. But still before the 2018 growing season! So here is my 2017 report.

For detailed info on first leaf and flowing information on my plants you can see my
Gardenregister page at:
http://www.gardenregister.com/garden/hungryfrozencanuck/1/

As mentioned in my spring 2017 post this winter was long lasting
156 days with over 10 feet of cumulative snowfall but with a rapid warm up in April.

So for example while 2015 rhubarb crown break was May 1, in 2016 May 10th, and this year was April 17! Grapes had first leaf 2015 of May 9, in 2016 it was May 21 and this year was May 18.

Last frost was May 9th vs May 17th in 2016. That means from first to last frost, winter lasted 211 days in 2017 vs 214 days in 2016. First frost was Oct 1st vs Oct 11 in 2016. That gave a frost free season of 146 days in 2017 vs 148 days in 2016.

With the super wet spring I saw nearly NO regular honey bees. Fortunately I have planted Muscari and Daffodils which heavily attract Bumble bees which were my main pollinator (well and the fact that I hand pollinated most of my apples to make 100% sure).


Apple flowers


Haskasp Flowers

Now that aside onto the fruit!

Apples - This photo is not all my apples. Just the ones from a tasting I held at work. The favorite by far was Crimson Crisp with Liberty slightly edging out Macfree in 2nd place. Egremont Golden Russet in 3rd. 6 weeks in the fridge, no one liked Pristine. No one liked Ashemead Kernel.


From left to right: Pristine, Macfree, Liberty, Norkent, Ashmead Kernel, Egremont Golden Russet, Crimson Crisp.

Apple - Pristine Bud9- DR (Planted May 2015 from Whiffletree) – Survived. No dieback. Flowers started May 18 and peaked May 27. First fruit was obtained August 15th with mostly brown seeds. By August 20th the fruit was beginning to drop. They are very attractive apples being golden yellow with a rose blush. Hint of golden delicious flavours but as time went on a very strong floral note became predominant. Sweet tasting with brix ranging from 11 to 14 brix. Refrigerated apples became WAY to floral for my taste. Not sure I will keep them. (87 days from flower to fruit).

Apple - Redfree Bud9- DR (Planted May 2015 from Whiffletree) – Survived. No dieback. Flowers started May 23 and finished June 8. Fruit harvested from August 18 to September 1. Nice red apples averaging around 160g each. Earlier they were crisp and juicy with mild apple flavour and not much acid. The September apples were softening despite seeds being only about 70% brown. I liked them best when seeds were mostly white and flesh was crisp. A bug eaten one reached 16 brix but the average was 11-12 brix. (last year 110 days, this year 94-106 days from flower to fruit).


Redfree left, Pristine right


Redfree left, Crimson Crisp right

Apple - Crimson crisp Bud9- DR (Planted May 2015 from Whiffletree) – Survived. No dieback. Tons of flowers and flowers last a LONG time. Flowers started May 23 and finished June 9. Amazing red apples, my favourite so far. They are smaller apples averaging around 140-160g and look like small red delicious apples but have flavour, juice and crunch. Edible as of September 13 with a brix of 12-13 and seeds light brown but the apples hold extremely well onto the tree and I harvested the last apple October 26 with the seeds dark brown and 16 brix. 6 weeks hanging on the tree just fine! The flesh is extremely firm particularly in September but it softens slightly into October but keeps a nice crunch. Flavour is amazing with a slight acidity and amazing sweetness that increases as time goes on. My favourite by far. (123 days last year from flower to fruit and 113-156 days this year– tasty as of around 120 days).

Apple - Liberty M27?- DR (Planted Fall 2012 - Green Barn) – Survived. No dieback. Much fewer flowers this year and only 4-5 apples – looks like I over cropped last year and sent it bi-annual. Flowered from May 19 – 30. First fruit tasted September 13 but only 30% brown seeds and was sour and dry. Peak ripeness September 27 with seeds 75% dark brown and 12 brix. Definitely a McIntosh type apple that has a lot of acid. Tart with not much sweetness. Very juicy. Flesh on the softer side. Around 140g. (140 days from flower to fruit last year and 131 this year)

Apple - Egremont russet Bud9- H (Planted May 2015 from Whiffletree) – Survived. No dieback. Flowered from May 19 – 30. First fruit tasted October 10 and was 19 brix! Seeds were 90% brown. Flesh dense but not crisp, cleaves easily. Very sweet with slightly nutty notes. Some juice but somewhat dry. Peak was probably around October 18-25 when was much more juicy with a bit more floral notes. Brix 18. Last picked Nov 3 and would release extremely easy from tree. At this point a bit more drying (tannic?) and much more floral and I preferred flavour a bit earlier. Size ranged from 99-170g with average around 140g. (159 days from flower to fruit)

Apple - MacFree pretty sure on M7- DR (Planted Fall 2012 - alive and doing well) Green Barn. – Survived. No dieback. This tree is in a quite shaded area so take ripening dates with a grain of salt. Flowered from May 23 – 30. Windfall tasted Oct 18. Very McIntosh like. Acidic. Sweet-tart at 12 brix. Rest were harvested Nov 3 when had much less acid. Juicy and sweet with slight acidity and crisp when eaten from the tree. Good apple flavour like a McIntosh. 13 brix. My wife preferred the sour/tart mid October flavour while I like the less acidic later version. (140 days last year, 148 days this year).

Apple - Goldrush Bud9 - DR (Planted May 2015 from Whiffletree) – Survived. No dieback. No flowers.

Apple - Enterprise M7 - DR (Planted May 2015 from Whiffletree) (M7 is shipping error, it should have been Bud9) – DIED after a long, cold wet winter when the Bud 9 to each side have survived fine. I have this re-grafted onto Antonovka rootstock in the same place.

Apple – M360 (Grafted 2016) – Survived. No dieback. Small graft. Later blooming, 50% at May 27. Only 1 apple picked September 19. Very attractive apple. Red with pink striations. Possibly a bit over ripe as seeds were dark brown. Flesh soft with some watercore. Nice sweet apple flavour.


M360 left, Crimson Crisp right.

Apple – Prairie Sensation (Grafted 2016) – Survived. No dieback. Small graft. Flowered June 10th I think. No fruit.

Apple – Norkent (Grafted 2016) – Survived. No dieback. Flower May 20-27. The 2 apples were found fallen from the tree September 8. Seems to drop easily. Very dark seeds, perhaps over ripe. Slight crunch. Very sweet with some honey flavors. Not much acid. (111 days).

Apple – Ashmeads Kernel (Grafted 2016) – Survived. No dieback. Flowered from May 23 – 30. First fell when touched September 13. Blotchy green apple with russeting. Kind of ugly. Some seeds were brown while others were pure white. Dry. 12 brix. 139g. Other 2 picked fully ripe Oct 11. Dark seeds. Still ugly apple. Slightly more juicy. Mild flavour, bit grassy tasting, somewhat Egremont russet like (but less good) with a medium cruch. 13 brix. I’ll give this a couple more years but so far I MUCH prefer Egremont russet. Perhaps it was amazing for it’s time but if this is the real flavour we have modern varieties that are much better.

Apple – Williams pride (Grafted 2016) – Survived. No dieback. No flowers.

Apple – Fireside (Grafted 2016) – Survived. No dieback. No flowers.

Apple – Wolf river (Grafted 2016) – Survived. No dieback. No flowers.

Apple – Calville Blanc d’hiver (Grafted 2016) – Survived. No dieback. No flowers.

Pear - Hayatama (Planted May 2014 from pepiniere ancestrale) Die back to graft union in 2015, 2016 and again this year. I will cut it back in spring 2018 and graft something more resistant.

Pear - Northbrite (OHXF 87? Planted Fall 2012 Green Barn). Was struggling but last year shot up to 5 feet tall with a ton of nice laterals. No flowers because I ended up grafting 14 different pear varieties to it.

Pear - Kenko (PYRUS BETULAFOLIA? Planted Spring 2013 Green Barn). Has been dying back each year. In Spring 2018 I will cut back to graft union and graft something else.

Pear - Taylor Apple (PYRUS BETULAFOLIA? Planted Spring 2013 Green Barn) Growth up to nearly 7 feet with nearly 1” trunk last year with some fruiting spurs. I grafted several varieties of asian pears. It flowered May 16 but then began showing what could be fireblight and ended up dying all the way back to the graft. Spring 2018 I will cut back and graft something else.

Plum - Toka (myrobalan - Planted May 2014 from pepiniere ancestrale). Survived. No dieback but it is not thriving anything like Superior. Covered in flowers that peaked May 17. 1 fruit picked September 9. Cracked. Small. Not enough to really describe taste. 18 brix.

Plum - Superior (myrobalan - Planted May 2014 from pepiniere ancestrale) Survived. No dieback. Crazy vigorous with 6+ feet of grown again this year. Covered in flowers that peaked May 16. Several fruit were set but all aborted unfortunately.

Plum - Kahinta (myrobalan - Planted May 2014 from pepiniere ancestrale) Survived. No dieback. Again 5+ feet growth this year. Covered in flowers that peaked May 16. Several fruit were set but all aborted unfortunately.

Plum – Black Ice (Planted May 2015 from Whiffletree). Survived. No dieback. No flowers. Might have a borer as I have seen some leaking sap on the trunk.

Again, these plums are all planted in the wettest area of my clay yard. Standing water late fall and spring. I tried hand pollinating the flowers this year and forced some American plum branches to flower by keeping inside and then placed in a vase under each tree but fruit set was less than 2-5% for all trees.

14 new varieties of plum were grafted this year.

Chum - Kappa (Planted Fall 2012 - Green Barn) Survived. No dieback. Tons of flowers that peaked May 18. I tried hand pollinating the flowers this year and forced some American plum branches to flower by keeping inside and then placed in a vase under each tree but fruit set was less than 2-5%. First fruit August 7 with rest harvested August 25. Around 16g each. Nearly black flesh. 17 brix. Majority had severe cracking. Not edible, mouth puckering, dry and tannic. In total lost majority of fruit to abort and/or plum curlicue.

Chum - Convoy (Planted Fall 2012 Greenbarn - died. Re-planted 2014 from Whiffletree)
Several trunks died this year after flowering with one trunk surviving as if the roots in those other areas died or were eaten. Flowered heavily with peak May 21. No fruit set.

Chum - Sapalta (Planted May 2013 Green Barn) Survived. No dieback. Tons of flowers that peaked May 18. I tried hand pollinating the flowers this year and forced some American plum branches to flower by keeping inside and then placed in a vase under each tree but fruit set was less than 2-5%. Many fruit aborted and/or were hit by plum curlicue. Only 5 fruit survived and all suffered severe cracking and were harvested August 24. 12g each. 19 brix. Flesh deep red and somewhat sweeter than Kappa and less tannic.

I was surprised how poorly the Chums were pollinated with all the other plums flowering and my attempts and hand pollinating. There was severe plum curlicue damage and severe cracking later summer. I will keep another couple years to see what happens and will get my license to spray with Surround WP but so far I am not impressed.

Haskasp

Haskasp – Tundra (Planted Fall 2013 from prairieplant.com) Survived. No dieback. Tons of flowers. Flowers started May 1 and peaked May 13. The bumblebees LOVE Haskasp flowers. Peak ripeness berries July 2. 0.5g/berry. 10 brix.

Haskasp – Aurora (Planted Fall 2014 from Whiffletree) Survived. No dieback. Tons of flowers. Flowers started May 10 and peaked May 17. The bumblebees LOVE Haskasp flowers. Peak ripeness berries July 2. 1.7g/berry. 13 brix. Definitely the sweetest of the 3 and the only one that I deem edible fresh.

Haskasp – Honeybee (Planted Fall 2013 from prairieplant.com) Survived. Not tasty last year so pulled out.

Haskasp – Borealis (Planted Fall 2013 from prairieplant.com) Survived. No dieback. Tons of flowers. Flowers started May 6 and peaked May 13. The bumblebees LOVE Haskasp flowers. Peak ripeness berries July 2. 0.8g/berry. 11 brix.

Haskasp – Boreal Blizzard (Planted spring 2017 from Whiffletree). Supposed to be later blooming and bearing. Needs Boreal Beast to pollinate.

Haskasp – Beauty (Planted spring 2017 from Whiffletree). Supposed to be later blooming and bearing. Needs Boreal Beast to pollinate.

Elderberry

Elderberry – Wyldewood (Planted May 2015 from Whiffletree) Survived. No dieback. Massive plants. They can now send up 6-8’ shoots in 1 year. Flowering June 28 with peak July 9 with some flowers continuing until late July. Started having ripe fruit last week of August and is continuing to stagger ripening into mid September.

Elderberry - Bob Gordon (Planted May 2015 from Whiffletree) Survived. No dieback. Larger plants than Wyldewood. They can now send up 10’ shoots in 1 year. Flowering a bit later than Wyldewood starting July 7 and peaking July 13. Started having ripe fruit last week of August with bulk of fruit ripening at once.

Total yield from 4 plants were 2308g in 2017 vs 1238g in 2016. I also tested covering the bunches of berries with organza bags and that resulted in 75% more berries due to being protected vs the birds. Inedible fresh. Instead made into a syrup for ice cream and for adding to sparkling water as a refreshing drink. Delicious. Blackberry flavours. I also harvested the flowers to make an Elderberry flower cordial which was AMAZING and you don’t have to fight the birds like you do for the berries. Next year I will probably harvest 50% of my flowers to make cordial.


Unprotected berries


Protected berries


Protected berries

Elderflower Recipe:
15 full heads makes 3.5-4 cups worth of flowers
6 cups of sugar
4 cups of water
30 ml of granulated citric acic
1 lemon (unwaxed). Zest then sliced into rounds.

Pluck the flowers from the stems and put aside. (some say to wash but I did not, simply picking out any visible bugs because I did not have that much. The flavour is in the pollen and I did not want to wash any away and it was a relatively small batch. The sterilization process will kill anything nasty. If you don’t want to pick the flowers off the stems or are doing large batches you probably want to rinse.)

Boil 4 cups of water and disolve 6 cups of sugar. Allow to cool.
In a non-reactive bowl add the sugar water, 30 ml of granulated citric acid and the lemon zest and slices then the flowers.
Cover the bowl with a dishtowel and place in a cool place. Allow to sit for 2-3 days stirring once per day.
Strain through chesscloth into sterilized jars and then waterbath can as you would any other liquid.

Black Raspberry - ? (Planted Fall 2012 Green barn)

Purple Raspberry - ? (Planted Fall 2012 Green barn)
Purple Raspberry – Royalty (Planted May 2014 pepiniere ancestrale)


Unknown black raspberry left, Royalty raspberry right.

All are doing well. Some dieback at tips of certain canes but only some canes and then only 12-18” on 6 foot tall canes so it is nothing. These are planted right next to either a south facing or a west facing brick wall so there are MAJOR temperature swings during winter and spring and yet they still do fine. Earwigs and Japanese beetles love attacking these. I eat these fresh but also freeze a lot for cereal later as well as canning in a light syrup and using for mixing with carbonated water for a refreshing drink.

Both started around July 17 and finished after 2 weeks. Total yield 8.61 kg in 2017. Up from 7.4 kg in 2016 but still lower than 9.8 kg 2015.

Grapes.
So I am growing my grapes for cold climate. They are multi-trunk (aiming for 4 trunks each), on a Geneva double curtain trellis (trunk 1 left wire south, truck 2 left wire north, trunk 3 right wire south, trunk 4 left wire north). I have been trying 2 different pruning methods. 2 trunks spur pruned, 2 trunks cane pruning. Then I was leaving 2 canes standing all winter (1 cane, 1 spur) and laying down 2 canes for additional protection (1 cane, 1 spur).

This was my first year where I could really see the difference and for sure the 4 trunk system is definitely the way to go in my climate and with my heavy soil. Some varieties had 2 or 3 trunks die back. Others had 50% of the trunks have fruit bud death. BUT this meant I still had 1 or more trunks that survived to produce fruit! I am now growing my plants with 4 principle trunks and then allowing 2 renewal trunks to shoot up as well. I will now lay down all trunks because the trunks left standing had bad bud death. In the spring will wait to see what trunks have survived then if all 4 primary trunks survived I will cut back 1 and replace it with a renewal trunk. This means no trunk will ever be more than 4 years old so they will still be flexible enough to lay down each fall. The 2nd secondary trunk will be available if dieback was worse and I lost other trunks.

The renewal trunks I train into a “J” shape. I try to get them to take off from the base at about 90 degrees (horizontal to the ground) before training them upwards to the trellis. This makes lying them down in the fall easier without tearing at the junction. If I let them shoot straight up I find the junction angle at the base is too acute and fragile and when trying to lie some down in the fall I have broken them.

This year the bagging grapes did NOT go well. We had a TON of rain. Deluge levels. Through the summer the weather was cool with most days having one or more showers. And for the first time this means FUNGUS. Pretty sure it is downy mildew. My Reliance, Valient and Somerset grapes were hit severely with Vanessa having moderate strikes. Seedless concord (or it might be concord), Catwaba, Bluebell and Trollhaugen were unaffected. All my bunches were bagged just after grape formation and these worst affected plants were spur pruned so they were on the overgrown side with ALOT of shoots and leaves. The combination of the organza bags and high amount of leaves probably retarded the ability of the grapes to dry out and so the fungus exploded. I pulled off the bags, removed infected bunches and only put the bags back when the grapes started to change color. I lost 50% of my somerset, 60%+ Vanessa, and nearly 90% Valient and Reliance! Doh!

Grape – Somerset (Planted Fall 2012 Greenbarn). 4 trunks. Not a very vigorous plant but it is planted under the drip line of a mature tree so it fights with the roots of the tree. No dieback. Flowering June 16. Ripe 3 weeks later this year (September 1) vs August 8 in 2016. Holds well on the vine for 2-3 weeks but begins shrivelling at the end. Best in the first 10 days. Very small, dense bunches of grapes and small berries but AMAZING spicy strawberry flavour. Fully seedless. Cling skin. Nice crunchy flesh. The BEST tasting grape I have ever had so I planted a 2nd vine. 21-23 brix.

Grape – Vanessa (Planted May 2015 from Whiffletree). Moderate dieback with many lost buds. Vigorous plant with 10’+ growth. Too vigorous for spur pruning as I had problems with fungus (not as bad as Reliance) due to the dense canes and leaves so will cane prune from now on. Bunches are longer and more stringy. Did not need to be brushed as they were not dense by the end of season. Started harvest September 13 and final October 1 when some started to shrivel. Cling skin. Seedless. Good crunch. Floral notes but less prominent than Somerset. 19 – 20 brix.


September 9


Oct 1 - starting to shrivel up.

Grape – Reliance (Planted May 2015 from Whiffletree). Moderate dieback with many lost buds. Very vigorous plant with 10’+ growth. Too vigorous for spur pruning as I had huge problems with fungus due to the dense canes and leaves so will cane prune from now on. Larger bunches of grapes and more densely packed – benefited from brushing the bunches to decrease density. Fruit began to be ripe September 13. Peak more around September 21 and began shrivelling September 27. Mixed cling/slip skin. Seedless. Softer than Vanessa. Floral, somewhat similar to Somerset (but not as good). Sweeter and more pleasing flavour than Vanessa. 24 brix.

Grape - Pink Pearl (Planted Fall 2012 Greenbarn). Mislabelled. I believe this is Trollhaugen. No dieback and no evident dead buds. Vigorous plant with 10’+ growth. Tight, dense clusters –benefited from both brushing and pinching the end of the bunches. Started September 13 and finished September 23 which was actually left too long. Slip skin. Small soft seed remnants. Soft flesh. Sweet with a nice concord like taste when peak ripe. Some problems with bunch shatter. 19-21 brix.

Grape – Catawba (Planted May 2015 from Whiffletree). Severe dieback with majority dead buds – only surviving below snowline. Only started turning color Sept 16 still not ripe Oct 13 after a couple frosts and leaves browning. Grapes and bunches slightly smaller than Concord. There is a reason Concord supplanted this grape in popularity. Pulled out fall 2017.


Never fully ripened. NOT appropriate for zone 4.

Grape - Concord seedless (Planted May 2014 from Whiffletree). No dieback but 2 western facing trunks had no bud survival while 2 eastern facing trunks had complete bud survival. Always has seeds to think might be actually be Concord but they say in some climates the seedless grapes can actually have seeds. Very vigorous vine with 8’+ of growth. Large grapes in loose clusters. Started harvest September 25 with last harvested November 3. Peak flavour from last week of October and still amazing Nov 3. Slipskin with seeds. Juicy, sweet with amazing grape flavour. 19 brix.

Grape - Bluebell (Planted May 2016 from Cornhill nursery). No dieback or bud death. Moderate vigor vine but only it’s 2nd year in the ground so a bit early to tell. Ripe as of September 23 but peak flavour September 29 but by October 1st the skin was tough, dry and somewhat unpleasant. Slipskin with seeds. Juicy and sweet with a milder Concord flavour. Concord is better but Bluebell is ripe 3-4 weeks earlier. Same size grapes and bunches as Concord. 19 brix.

Grape – Valliant (Planted May 2016 from Cornhill nursery). No dieback or bud death. Moderate vigor. Small bunches and small grapes. Large seeds. Ripe as September 9 but peak September 19. Grapey flavour but nothing in compared to Bluebell, Concord and the like. With the flavour and the seeds there is NO reason to grow this grape if you can grow Trollhaugen, Bluebell, Sommerset, Concord and the like. I would only grow this if I had no other choices. 19 brix. Pulled out fall 2017.

Grape – Swenson Red (Planted May 2016 from Cornhill nursery). No dieback but was small and fully covered by snow. Just planted this spring. It was a small plant so to early to say about vigor. Has not reached the 6’ wire.

Grape – Brianna (Planted Spring 2017 from Vignes chez soi)

Grape – Roland (Planted Spring 2017 from Vignes chez soi)

Grape – Swenson White (Planted Spring 2017 from Vignes chez soi)

Grape – Montreal Blue (Planted Spring 2017 from Vignes chez soi)

Grape – Himrod (Planted Spring 2017 from Vignes chez soi)

Grape - Candice (Planted Spring 2017 from Vignes chez soi)

Grape - Petite Jewel (Planted Spring 2017 from Vignes chez soi)

Grape – Kay gray (Planted Spring 2017 from Vignes chez soi)

Grape – Earliblue (Planted Fall 2012 Greenbarn) – 2 trunks. Died. Pulled up 2016.

Grape - Polar Green (Planted Fall 2012 Greenbarn) Mislabelled. Think was Trollhaugen. Pulled out Spring 2017.

Grape - Petite Jewel (Planted May 2015 from Whiffletree). Mislabelled as had seeds. Pulled out fall 2016

Blueberries – Chandler (Planted Fall 2012 Greenbarn) Survived. Flowering but not thriving. They don’t like my soil. Pulled out.

Blueberries – Toro (Planted Fall 2012 Greenbarn) Survived. Flowering but not thriving. They don’t like my soil. Pulled out.

Blueberries – Duke (Planted May 2014 from Costco) Survived. Flowering but not thriving. They don’t like my soil. Pulled out.

Cherry - Crimson Passion (Planted Fall 2013 from prairieplant.com) – Survived. No dieback. Few flowers starting May 17. Fruit all eaten by worms.

Cherry – Juliet (Planted Fall 2013 from prairieplant.com) – Survived. No dieback. Few flowers starting May 17.

Cherry – Romeo (Planted Fall 2013 from prairieplant.com) Survived. No dieback. Few flowers starting May 17. Fruit all eaten by worms.

Cherry – Cupid (Planted Fall 2013 from prairieplant.com) Survived. No dieback. Few flowers starting May 17 and flowers lasted the longest of the 4 sour cherries. Fruit July 31 but majority were wormy. Slight sour – hard to tell with the small amount. 5g/berry. 14 brix.

Mulberry - Seedling (Planted Fall 2012 Greenbarn) Survived. No dieback. I thought this was a male because it would flower but produce no fruit. This year it actually did produce a couple tiny fruits. Flowered June 12, fruit July 16.

Mulberry – Illinois everbearing. I severely cut back my seedling mulberry and grafted a bunch of Illinois everbearing I got from someone in Ottawa (zone 5a/b vs my 4b). They grew like crazy putting on 6-8’ of growth. The leaves are huge and with windstorm I lost several grafts due to them breaking at the union. That said I got a bunch of fruit! Flowered June 12 and started fruiting July 16 and continued bearing until August 27. Large, sweet delicious fruits that remind me somewhat of blackberries. We will see how well it survives this winter. I grafted some to suckers from the ground and am deciding if I should cut down the tree completely and change over to the sucker from the ground or just topwork the existing tree completely. It has a 4-5” trunk now so I am loath to just cut it down. I will probably give it 1 more year and decide then.

Plumcot - Taylors Gold (MARIANA 26-24? Planted Fall 2014 from Whiffletree) Survived. No dieback. Really taking off last year. Heavily cut back and I grafted 24 different plum and apricot grafts to it. Started flowering May 16. Produced some fruit but all aborted from PC attack.

Strawberry – Albion and All Star. They survive over winter but are not happy in my clay soil. The birds get all the berries too. I pulled them out to make a nursery bed for grafted apple and pear rootstocks.

Rubarb - Victoria? (crown has been propagated in family for +80 years over 4 different moves!) Survived and thriving. Crown break April 24 with first ready to harvest May 18. Over 10kg harvested. Less than last year but I had enough that I did not harvest any in August or September.


May 18th!

Rubarb - Strawberry Red (Planted May 2014 from Costco) Dead.

Heartnut – Imshu (Planted May 2014 from Whiffletree – did not survive winter 2015) Sending up shoots from roots.

Heartnut - Campbell CW-3 (Planted May 2014 from Whiffletree – did not survive winter 2015) Sending up shoots from roots.

Medlar - Giant Breda (Planted May 2014 from Whiffletree – died back to graft 2015). Struggling along. Probably will die.

Medlar - Royal (Planted May 2014 from Whiffletree – died back to graft 2015). Struggling along. Probably will die.

Heartnut and Medlar are planted on a rural property in quite sandy soil. They got heavily eaten by deer in the fall 2014. Some mice damage over winter 2015. I saw some re-growth from the graft of the medlars last year and they seem to be leafing out this spring from those shoots. The Heartnuts both died down to ground last year but then sent up shoots from the seedling roots. Those shoots appeared to survive this winter and I am letting the grow to see what happens.

Gooseberry - Black Velvet (Planted Fall 2014 from Whiffletree) Survived. No dieback. Lots of fruit. Small and tart despite reaching 16 brix 4th week of July. Ripens last week of July – 1st week August. To tart for me and my wife for fresh eating but makes a great jam. Need to cover because birds like them.

Gooseberry – Tixia (Planted Fall 2014 from Whiffletree) Died back this year. Perhaps the stress from being defoliated by currant worms last year?

Gooseberry – Poorman (Planted Fall 2014 from Whiffletree) Survived. No dieback. Many flowers. Ripens last 2 weeks of July and reached 16.5 brix. Much less acidity and was great for fresh eating. Need to cover because birds like them. In fact the day before I planned to harvest them the birds got 90% of them!


Unprotected berries


Carnage after the bird raid.

Less problems with currant worms this year. I regularly looked at my leaves and as soon as I say the eggs (small, poppy seed like clusters) I would remove them .

Currants:

Currant - Ben Cowan (Planted Fall 2013 from local) Survived. No dieback. Many flowers. Harvest began July 12. Total 731g so double from last year. 11 brix. This is a small plant, planted in my clay soil from a crappy potted nursery stock.

Currant - Ben Sarek (Planted Fall 2014 from Whiffletree) Survived. No dieback. Many flowers. This is shorter plant than Titania with a more spreading nature. Harvest started 3rd week July. 597g in 2017 vs 1097g in 2016. Sweeter this year at 16 Brix.

Currant – Titania (Planted Fall 2014 from Whiffletree) Survived and flourishing. No dieback. Tall, upright canes. Needs to be staked/supported or the weight of MASSIVE crop will lay the canes to the ground. 2248g in 2017 vs 2576g in 2016 from 1 plant! Peak harvest 3rd week July with some later ripening in 4th week. 16 Brix. I LOVE this plant!

Currant – Tiben (Planted Spring 2016 from Whiffletree). Only planted last year. I did get some currants but were small and hard, not sure if representative. 922g and 13 brix. Bit smaller berries than Titania.

I LOVE currants. Easy to grow, you can’t buy them in stores and they laugh at early season frosts.


Clockwise from upper left. Ben Sarek, Tiben, Cupid, Royalty, black raspberry, Titania.

Josta Berry - (Planted Fall 2014 from Whiffletree – survived winter). Survived and flourishing. No dieback. Many flowers but hardly any fruit! I have 2 of these planted. They now spread 5 feet x 5 feet. Each plant takes up nearly 2x the area as Titania but Titania gave me 2.2kg of fruit and each of these gave me under 20 berries! 16 brix. They are right next to Titania, Tiben and Ben Sarek so it can’t be pollenization. The berries produced were only as big as my large Titania berries and not even that good. I tore out these wastes of space to make room for a larger garlic bed and more currants.

Paw Paw – Seedling (Planted May 2014 from Whiffletree) - Survived. No dieback. Really taking off this year. Nice healthy looking plant now reaching 2 feet tall.

Paw Paw - Campbell NC-1 (Planted May 2014 from Whiffletree) – Struggling. Hardly any growth each year. I am going to try grafting it to some of the branches of my seedling to make sure I have future pollinators.

Garlic – Nothing like home grown garlic instead of that no-flavour Chinese garbage. Plant in fall and harvest in summer. Break open your big bulbs in fall and replant. Yum, Yum!

So to summarize:
Grafted like crazy. See last years write up for my technique with parafilm. I had 95% + success with a mix of Omega tool, cleft and whip grafting. I even had apple grafts that were lost in the mail for 3 weeks take!


Frankenpear


Omega tool


Whip and tongue


Whip and tongue


Cleft

Bagging apples is for sure the way to go for my backyard scale orchard. The fruit was larger and in much better condition. Storing them in the fridge without removing the bags also kept them in better shape for longer with less “fridge” smell. However earwigs do love to get into the bags, they don’t seem to do damage but they and their poop is gross.

Next year I will wait to bag my grapes until they just start turning color. I will also move from spur pruning to cane pruning to try and have a less crowded canopy and better airflow to hopefully reduce fungal pressure.

For my elderberries I will be harvesting 50% of the flowers to make cordial and then leaving the rest for berries.

As an aside, I got a steamer/juicer from Amazon this year. It is much easier than doing a boil/strain. I would get 50-60% of my yield with a 30min steam, then 25-35% yield with a 2nd 30 min steam, then 15-25% yield with the 3rd 30 min steam. So really no need to steam for more than 1 hr. The steaming yields nice, clean juice and I did not notice any taste difference from the boil/strain method. That said my Apple jelly did not set because the steaming did not release pectin from the skin/steam/seeds like I got from boiling. I will have to add pectin next year. Instead I just boiled up to 220 degrees celcius and made it more of an apple caramel type thing.

My yard is full now with no further planting planned. I have some more varieties coming from the Parie Plant Repository of USask. In the next 2 years I should be able to taste most of my grafts and narrow down to what I really like and what works well in my zone.

Looking forward to what 2018 will bring.


#16

Awesome post, thanks so much for taking the time, very educational and much appreciated. I’m in a similar climate and grow a lot of the same things as you. Like you I also see a huge difference in vigor between Toka and Superior plum. Thanks again! Mike


#17

Thanks. I’m trying to give back and provide info I wished I had when starting out. You just can’t tell from the catalogs what you will and will not like which is why I try to compare varieties to each other. Can’t believe I wasted 3-4 years on Jostaberries. With disease resistant varieties of gooseberries and currants it is my personal opinion that NO ONE should ever plant a jostaberry.

Are you growing any newer apples like Zeestar and the like? I’m so impressed with Crimson Crisp and unimpressed with some of the heritage varieties that I am curious.

For anyone else, if you have recommendations for disease resistant varieties that are more sour/acid like Macfree/Liberty please let me know. No my cup of tea but my wife likes those types and honestly Macfree/Liberty from my tree are not much better than McIntosh from the local orchards.


#18

I am growing Zestar, in fact it is my wife’s favorite apple. Its similar to Honeycrisp but with a bit more tart mixed in. One nice thing about Zestar is it is a very early apple ripening IMO about 4 weeks ahead of Honeycrisp. Zestar also seems to be a nice dependable every year bearer.


#19

Wow, your post is an inspiration! Thank you for all this information! I notice you like garlic. Do you know rocambole farm? They have many different varieties. I planted 7 or 8 of their varieties last fall.


#20

Wow, what a report, that’s an impressive variety of fruit. Thanks for sharing. Looks like grapes, currants and gooseberries have done well for you, and some apple varieties. I’m intrigued by Crimson Crisp, I haven’t heard too many detailed reports on it, and would like to try it. Yours has an amazing deep red color to them. A local orchard has been growing it, but he last two years we’ve visited, they didn’t have any left.

We also liked Zestar from that orchard, so much we planted a tree last year. No fruit obviously, maybe next year though.