13 March 2010
A group of five Sustneans carpooled to Onalaska, southeast of Chehalis, where Raintree held its all-day classes and workshops at the Onalaska Middle School. It was very well attended, and even for a long-time gardener like myself, there was a lot to be learned. I took many pages of notes, and present them here in condensed form. I think it might really help us all, to grow more and better fruit.
Sam Benowitz, owner of Raintree Nursery, opened with selecting the best cultivars for Western Washington. A few preliminary criteria must be explained before examining actual fruit cultivars. First is size, which is determined by the type of rootstock used with the grafts. Dwarf rootstocks not only determine size and shape of the mature tree, but also how soon they produce. With dwarfs you’ll expect fruit in 2 to 3 years, with standards it may take many years. Size also matters, especially when it comes to the particulars of your garden. Mini-dwarf trees can be expected to be 4’ to 5’ wide and high, making easy picking. Then there is disease resistance and taste. Western Washington is not an easy place to grow fruit, due to the mild, damp weather. Hotter, drier summers and colder winters are really better for most trees. BUT, we can benefit from the careful observations of fruit growers before us, for they have found many cultivars that are suitable for our gardens.
Mid-Season: Belmac, Greensleeves, Beni Shogun (early Fuji, Fuji is will not grow here), Dayton, Prima, Pink Pearl (red flesh)
Late Season: Bramley Seedling (best cooking)
Cider: Kingston Black
EUROPEAN PEARS:Notes: Well adapted to W.Wash, requires pollinizer. Russet is a climate effect, especially pronounced in W.Wash.
Cultivars: Bella di Guigno, Ubileen, Honey Sweet, Seckel, White Doyenne, Stuttgarter Gieshirtle (Stuttgart Goat Herder) Rescue and Orcas (best in NW), Bosc (russet), Blake’s Pride, Spaulding
Cultivars: Yoinashi*, Shinseki, Hamese (russet, best flavor)
Cultivars: Reine Claude Doree* (best Gage type), Early Laxton, Italian Prune Sehome strain (crack resistant), Stanley, Victoria (heavy bearer), Seneca, Reine de Mirabelle (smaller plum), Kuban.
Cultivars: Methley (earliest, reliable fruit set, heavy bearer), Shiro, Hollywood
Cultivars: Hudson (late), Early Burlat (early). Self-fertile varieties: Lapins, Sweetheart, Vandalay. Tart Pie: Almaden Duke, Surefire, Montmorency
Cultivars: Frost, Q18, Avalon Pride.
Notes: Not recommended for W.Wash.
Cultivars: Pennsylvania GoldenFIGS:
Cultivars: Desert King (the best)
ripen, American provide better harvest reliability.