The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Pears as low-work fruit trees

Young pear tree"Anna, I think you've been doing some experimenting with pears on your homestead, but I couldn't find any recent updates in the archives.  Any luck with your disease-resistant rootstocks, etc.?"

--- Jake, whose excellent blog is currently one of my favorites.  His writing will definitely be enjoyed by those who love a combination of useful facts, zany humor, and unadulterated geekiness.

Good question, Jake!  I haven't posted much about our pear trees because they're mostly in the waiting stage at the moment.  We originally planted a Keiffer and an Orient pear (the latter of which shouldn't be confused with Asian pears), and they grew quite well...but produced fruits that weren't worth eating.  (Yes, we are snobs.  Yes, if you plan to cook with the fruit, these are probably still quite good varieties.)

Training branches on a pear tree

So, a year and a half ago, I topworked the young trees to change them over to new varieties --- Seckel, Comice, and an unknown variety that is supposed to be similar to Comice.  The two named varieties are reputed to be moderately susceptible to fireblight, and I have seen a small amount of damage from that bacteria, although not enough to really slow down the trees.  (The photo above shows the huge number of new branches the Seckel's central leader has produced during this growing season alone.)  Otherwise, the transformed trees seem to be immune to problems.  Like most pears, our trees grow a mile a minute and I'm kept busy ripping off watersprouts to ensure that the pears don't revert back to their original varieties, then training keeper branches closer to the horizontal so they don't all grow straight for the sky.

Pear fruiting spur

If all goes well, we should see several fruits on each tree next year, at which point I'll be able to tell you whether Seckel and Comice live up to their potential for producing delicious pears that are much less prone to diseases than apples are.  So far, except for the fireblight, our pear trees have been pristine.  Of course, there are apple varieties that are nearly as disease resistant, and we manage to grow several despite having cedar-apple rust coming in from all sides --- a focus on types that are able to fight off that particular fungus is a big help.  But, from a management standpoint, I'd say that pears have definitely been our easiest fruit tree, followed by apples, and then trailed further behind by peaches.  Of course, the peaches do shine in terms of producing soonest after planting, so it's all a tradeoff.  But, yes, plant those pears!

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Thanks for the update on the pears! I hope you get some good fruit from them next year!

Thanks also for your kind words about my blog!

Comment by Jake Sat Sep 27 23:19:22 2014

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