High 34 degrees  Low 8 degrees Clear with 6 inches of snow over night that began to melt in the late afternoon, becoming a solid sheet of ice in the evening.

I was recently asked to share my favorite fruit tree varieties here on the blog. My apologies for taking so long but now is the time of hard woodcuttings, seed starting, classes, and getting my SongCroft Naturals products in to the Grow Washington store. It has been a busy time (as always).

There was another reason for not getting right on listing the varieties I like, there are just so many.  I mean for some women, it’s shoes and purses or jewelry and perfume but for me, it’s plants and dirt. I just can’t get enough! So narrowing down my list was a bit hard and I must start by saying that there are plenty more varieties of fruit trees I love but these are the ones that made today’s list and each for their own reasons.

Apples are a mainstay in most of Americas diet. I grow a few different varieties and would grow even more if I had more room. When I choose a fruit it will be for flavor, characteristics, size, disease and/or pest resistance. Of course whether or not it survives in my area is a factor as well as what time it comes into fruit. The Chehalis Apple was discovered in Western Washington. It does well in a short season area with a lot of rain so it is a perfect fit for me.  Other favorites are Williams Pride, Akane, Winter Banana, Liberty, Spartan, Gravenstein and the columnars. Columnars are fun because of their unusual growth pattern and because they fit into pots or other small spaces. I do not care to buy varieties with multiple varieties, which have been grafted on since they are not usually very hardy and at least some of the grafts will usually fail.

Pears are great and I love to eat them fresh or canned. Most are not really great at being stored in a cellar but they are so good that they are worth it.  Bosc stores for a month or two and usually tastes better afterwards. Orca has been a reliable variety for me. It was discovered on Orcas Island, WA. which is also in Western WA. Bartletts are delicious fresh but do not store very well. They are great canners though! Red Bartletts are pretty.

Cherries are a challenge. Every time they come into season I feel a sense of anxiety since it’s the birds or me. I tried planting some for them too but they don’t seem to get the “some of them are for me” part.  Some folks say that the gold cherries are less bothered by the birds but I think the best eating are with the Vans, Stella and Lapin varieties. I like the dark cherries best!

I have grown peaches in the past. Frost has been reliable and abundant but only lasted about 12 years before petering out. From what I hear, this is normal. I now have an Avalon which is young and gave it’s first couple peaches last year. They were small but delicious. We’ll see what we get this year!

We have a Puget Gold Apricot that is growing like crazy, probably due to the autumn olive planted next to it (nitrogen fixer) but it hasn’t given any fruit yet. We are crossing our fingers that this will be the year.

As for Plums, Beauty is our hands-down favorite for fresh eating.  We discovered it while staying on the Bullock’s Farm on Orcas Island.  Sam had us pitch our tent right next to a tree and the kids were as happy as clams!  Italian plums are the best for preserving.

I hope that this is enough to get you started.  I am planning on expanding this to a much more detailed version for the newsletter.  I think it would be a helpful article for many.  I will be sure to mention which fruit is good for preserving in what way and which need to be eaten fresh.

Happy garden planning!


Darlene Granberg February 25, 2011 at 4:35 pm

Best of luck with the apricot! I have had luck with peaches (Frost) but have heard that apricots are much more of a challenge here. Have had the Puget Gold on my wish list but haven’t added it yet, since I have heard they are so unreliable here.

Darlene Granberg February 25, 2011 at 5:47 pm

Wish you good luck with the Puget Gold apricot. Have been wanting to plant one myself for several years, but have heard you almost need a warm microclimate to grow one successfully. That fruit production here tends to be hit or miss. Hope it does well for you!

songcroft October 11, 2011 at 5:06 pm

Luck may be part of it Darlene. I am pushing our edges and straddling both sids of the climate change possibilities. We have things that like a warmer climate as well as things that like a cooler climate. Who knows which way things will go in the long run!

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