In these troubled times, growing fruit trees and shrubs is more popular than ever, especially among citizens who want to achieve a certain level of food autonomy. Urban orchards are now part of the landscape of many Quebec cities.
However, some people rightly hesitate to introduce fruit trees into their garden because they have a reputation for requiring a lot of care and frequent phytosanitary treatments in order to obtain edible fruit.
There are, however, several ways to reduce the workload required to maintain an orchard. First of all, it is possible to choose undemanding fruit species. Thus, an urban orchard can be made up of very rustic fruit trees and little prone to attack by insects and diseases such as the serviceberry, the sea buckthorn, the SK series dwarf cherry trees or the Asian pear tree. .
In addition, there are varieties of cherries, plums, pears and apples less known than those generally marketed, but which are more resistant than the latter to insect pests and diseases. For example, the apple varieties “Freedom”, “Liberty”, “Macfree” and “Redfree” have excellent resistance to diseases such as fire blight, rust and scab.
On the other hand, “Fall Red”, “Norland”, “Parkland”, “Rescue” and “September Ruby” are very hardy apple cultivars that survive the harsh winter conditions in zone 2 without any problem. Some of these varieties, like “September Ruby” for example, are successfully cultivated in Alaska and the Yukon!
The gardener’s calendar
Work to be done in early June
- Plant tropical annuals and vegetables as well as summer flowering bulbous plants that are sensitive to cold.
- Start fertilizing vegetable plants and annual flowers grown in containers.
- Prune the foliage of spring flowering bulbs when they are wilted and yellow.
- Tutor large perennials.
- Prune needle conifers like spruce.
On the other hand, by planning and maintaining your orchard while being inspired by the principles of permaculture and organic farming techniques, this will have the effect of reducing the cultural problems and the necessary interventions. This means not only using pesticides with low environmental impact and natural fertilizers like compost, but also planning your orchard by focusing on a wide variety of fruit species, by integrating flowering plants that attract pollinating and beneficial insects, by avoiding constantly mowing the grass at the foot of trees and reducing pruning work for example.
In addition, as the majority of fruit trees are grafted, it is preferable to choose rootstocks adapted to our northern climate leading to the formation of small trees, easier to maintain and requiring less pruning. The use of dwarf (Bud.9, M.9 or M.26 for example) and semi-dwarf (M.7 or MM.106 for example) rootstocks or columnar cultivars makes it possible to avoid certain problems.
No matter what type of fruit tree you choose, be sure to plant it in full sun, in rich, loose, well-drained soil. An annual supply of regular compost and spring fertilization – a slow-release natural fertilizer rich in potassium, 4-4-8 or equivalent formulation is ideal – is necessary for the majority of fruit trees to have good production.
Cherry, apple, pear and plum trees are generally self-sterile – although some cultivars can sometimes be partially self-fertile – and cannot be pollinated by their own pollen. It is therefore necessary to plant at least two specimens, of two different varieties, in order to obtain good fruit production.
On the side of the pear trees
Regarding pear trees, several old varieties, such as “Anjou” and “Conférence”, are still cultivated today and give good results in our northern climate. The robust Early Gold®, “Golden Spice”, “Krazulya”, “Larinskaya”, “Loma”, “So Sweet” and “Ste-Sophie” cultivars are disease resistant and hardy in zones 2 or 3. New cultivars from the Harrow and Harovin series have been specially developed for their resistance to disease and their ability to survive in our cold climate.
Special feature of cherry trees
In contrast, the cherry trees in the SK series, developed at the University of Saskatchewan, are small, self-fertile trees, so only one variety is needed to ensure good pollination. These dwarf cherry trees reach little more than 2.5 meters in height at maturity and are particularly resistant to cold. Hardy in zone 2b, they survive temperatures around – 40 ° C. They produce very sweet, dark red cherries. “Carmin Jewel”, “Crimson Passion”, “Cupid”, “Juliet”, “Romeo” and “Valentine” are some of the cultivars in this series.