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Need fruit tree suggestions for Northern California

Posted by carecooks 8-9 (My Page) on
Tue, Jan 27, 09 at 3:31

My husband and I recently purchased a house in Sonoma County. We've hired a landscaper for our backyard and I need fruit tree suggestions. I love to cook but I've never been much of a gardener. Now is my chance to dig in, so to speak.

We're talking about espaliered apples and pears and three fruit trees (all semi-dwarf). We know that we want a Santa Rosa plum and probably an apricot and a nectarine or peach tree. Really good flavor is what we're looking for. Any favorites for the trees that we are considering? I've always loved Blenheim apricots but I don't know if they're good to grow here. If not, any other apricot suggestions? I love Bartlett, Comice and Anjour pears. I like just about every apple. My husband doesn't care for Golden Delicious.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Need fruit tree suggestions for Northern California

apples: in sonoma you must grow a gravenstein. Other. Great choices include calville blanc, king David and waltana.

Peaches: baby Crawford is out of this world and ernies choice is often referred to by locals as the "better than sex" peach, although that would only be plausible for people who have bad sex.

Plums: Santa rosa is excellent but ado try to grow some French classics like reine claude and mirabelle.

Pears: try to find any of the French butter pears like beurre fin.

Apricots: moorpark and blennheim are two great classics.

Try to grow a couple of pluots - flavor queen is my favorite, flavor king is a close second.


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RE: Need fruit tree suggestions for Northern California

  • Posted by bboy z8 WA USA (My Page) on
    Tue, Jan 27, 09 at 13:55

Lots of fruit growing information available from California Cooperative Extension.


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RE: Need fruit tree suggestions for Northern California

Where you live, you can grow just about anything. (Well, maybe not dates or papayas!) I am on a quest to have year-round-fruit-heaven growing in my yard, and I have been building a multi-graft orchard based on reports of "yummy-ness".
Here is a link to my "bible" the Dave Wilson fruit tree website. They have fruit tastings regularly, and keep score of the best rated varieties. You can also research individual trees here.

Welcome to sharing my obsession!

Carla in Sac

Here is a link that might be useful: Dave Wilson fruit tasting report


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RE: Need fruit tree suggestions for Northern California

Wow! Thanks to all of you. Great suggestions. I think my big problem will making the choice. Okay, I'm thinking that I've got to have the Baby Crawford or the ernies choice based on the description. I do have one stone fruit tree that came with the property and I'm pretty sure that it is a Flavor Queen pluot. I got tons of fruit in August and had a great time making jam. Plus all my friends and neighbors enjoyed the excess fruit.

Sautesmom, thanks for the link to Dave Wilson fruit. It looks like their trees are available at my local nursery.

Since I'm a real newbie, I'm confused about how multigrafting works. How old does the tree have to be? When is the best time to graft and does the fruit have to be the same type on each tree (peaches with peaches, apples with apples, etc.)? Can it be done with espaliered trees?

I'm getting very excited about this.


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RE: Need fruit tree suggestions for Northern California

All of the following are IMHO and YMMV.
I would not grow Santa Rosa. There are better today. ditto Moorpark.
One of the best apples I ever ate was a Gravenstein from some coastal place in Cali. It is too hot here for them.
One of the nurserymen back east said that Ernie's last name is Christ, believe it or not. He wanted to call it Christ's Choice, but believed that would be "presumptive".
It is pretty hard to beat Doyenn Du Comice. Maybe a Buerr Bosc. Can you grow them there? If you can, do it. Also a green Beurr d' Anjou. Once I get started on ripened pears I can't hardly stop.
Do not attempt red d' Anjou or Concorde.


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RE: Need fruit tree suggestions for Northern California

Geraldo,

What plum would you grow instead of Santa Rosa? They have always been my favorite and they make delicious jam. But I am open to better suggestions. I love a tart outside and sweet inside.

Gravenstein's are available everywhere around here in season so I thought that I might try something else. I wanted to know what the other options are.

As far as pears go, I know that we can grow both comice and bosc. I see them in the local farmer's market. Like you, I love pears. Just out of curiosity, why shouldn't I attempt a red d'Anjou or Concorde?


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RE: Need fruit tree suggestions for Northern California

IMHO Catalina, and perhaps Laroda, is better. Santa Rosa does make great jam. I just never thought SR was very productive for the size tree. My family grew them as far back as WWII. Red d'Anjou is not very productive and Concorde drops its fruit before you get to pick them. This is known throughout the pear industry.
I have never had a Blenheim, much to my detriment. I do firmly believe that Tilton is the best cot for me to consume. To sell I want a bigger and redder blushed cot, because they are "better". To eat I want a Tilton, but they are late. My Tiltons bloom late.


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RE: Need fruit tree suggestions for Northern California

Carecooks- every tree you mentioned was either a stonefruit, which are VERY disease susceptible, or a pom fruit, which will have to be sprayed for pests or fruit bagged to get worm free fruit. I suggest you plant one or two pest and disease free, drought resistant trees like black mission fig (two crops a year), loquat (rollingrivernursery.com has them), wonderful pomegranate, fuyu jiro or izu persimmon, black beauty mulberry (from Burnt Ridge nursery), jujube (try Bay Laurel nursery). Of course there's always table grapes like Jupiter (starkbros.com) which is truly outstanding.


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RE: Need fruit tree suggestions for Northern California

Fruithack,

What is a pom fruit?

In spite of the issues with stone fruit, I do want to give them a try because these are the fruits that I like to eat. I get rapturous thinking about peaches, apricots, apples and pears and, please don't take this wrong, I just don't like mulberries, loquats or jujubes. Pomegrantes are tasty but after 3 or 4 in a season I'm done and I have no freezer space to store the juice. (We were going to remodel the kitchen but with the economy, we're doing the yard instead.)

We were considering a black mission fig in another area so you may have tiped the balance there. Also, you have got me thinking about persimmons and table grapes, so thanks for your suggestions.


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RE: Need fruit tree suggestions for Northern California

carecooks: Pome fruit are the apples and pears. Apricots I like are Tomcot and Robada. I think you are too cool for nectarines but you might do well with Geo Pride or Emerald Drop pluots aval from Bay Laurel Nursery. Check out their 4-N-1 Zee Sweet Nuggets tree. Four great pluots on one tree.


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RE: Need fruit tree suggestions for Northern California

The Sonoma county farm advisor has made a list of which fruit trees are best suited to Sonoma county, and which will be problem. Call 565 2608 and ask the help desk to send you the list. Al


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RE: Need fruit tree suggestions for Northern California

Calistoga,

Thanks for the phone number. I'll check with them after I see my landscaper on Tuesday as she may already have some ideas.

I do have one other question. I read in the paper today that Sonoma County may go to 50% water rationing in a matter of weeks. Is it a bad idea to even start a new garden now? Doesn't new growth require a lot of water? We were planning on putting in the fruit trees, a vegetable garden, some lavender and some wildflowers. Am I crazy to even think of it.


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RE: Need fruit tree suggestions for Northern California

Please consider figs and mulberries, two easy fruit trees which are drought tolerant, disease resistant, and full of delicious flavor. Mulberries have the reputation of being messy -- well, just don't plant where the berries will fall on a patio! The fruit is exceptional, sweet and rich, My DH cannot get enough of the jam I make from our mulberry.

You might also consider a planting table grape since you are in prime grape growing country. The American grapes are more disease resistant than the European ones.

Before the wine industry took over Sonoma County it was a vast apple orchard. Apples do exceptionally well there. You could look into some of the highly disease resistant ones such as William's Pride and Liberty. Gravenstein is an older variety that does not have this resistance, but it is the best cooking apple I ever used, and it is the signature apple of Sonoma County.

Pomegranates and persimmons are also easy and drought tolerant.


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RE: Need fruit tree suggestions - more

Sorry - I didn't see your comments about not liking mulberries. Please scratch that.

I grow a Black Jack fig which is easy to keep small. If your back garden is not large you may want to consider that.

Rosefolly


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RE: Need fruit tree suggestions for Northern California

I am wondering why so many people in this forum talk about bagging fruit while the fruit is still on the tree. I have a peach tree, a nectarine tree, apricot trees, a few pears, a fig, and a few small apples trees in my yard in central Calif. I have never seen any worms in the fruit. Also, most of the fruits don't have blemishes unless they fall off the tree and hit the ground. The nectarines have the most blemishes, but the peaches have very few blemishes. Also I noticed that some of my apricots had earwigs in them the last two years. Anyone care to enlighten me on why bagging fruit while it's on the tree is a good idea?


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RE: Need fruit tree suggestions for Northern California

Well, I would guess it's because not everyone is lucky enough to live in California, LOL. Although I have no personal experience, I believe the more humid locations have severe bug problems such as Plum Curculio and Oriental Fruit Moths, and bagging prevents them from biting the fruit. However, I bag my fruit (with footies) mostly because it keeps the birds from pecking holes in them, although I do worry about Coddling Moths because they are found in California. The UC Davis website highly recommends bagging for Coddling Moth control.

Carla in Sac

Here is a link that might be useful: Coddling Moth control


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RE: Need fruit tree suggestions for Northern California

Carecooks- I'll bet there are loquats growing near to you. Just look for a landscaping tree with long dark green leaves year round that are fuzzy in the underside that ripens yellow-orange small apricot size fruit in May-June. The fruit has slightly thicker skin and citrusy plum like flesh. Unnamed varieties have too much pit, and the fruit is sweet if ripe.


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RE: Need fruit tree suggestions for Northern California

I moved into our house at the end of May and my pluot tree had ripe fruit in August and September. I didn't see any problems with insects of any kind and the people who owned the house before me didn't take care of anything in the backyard.

My next door neighbor grows all kinds of fruit trees. I know that he has several pears, so I'll check with him to see if there have been issues. Thanks for the heads up on pests.


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RE: Need fruit tree suggestions for Northern California

Please stop referring to all that neglected but still perfect fruit- you're killing us who live in more humid regions. I was raised in S.CA, so I remember well all the neglected perfect fruit. People there complain when coddling moth damage 20% of their harvest. Wish my bugs would leave me 20% on unprotected trees. Oh well, at least we don't have gophers and ground squirrels ot that terrible oak fungus that kills most trees.


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RE: Need fruit tree suggestions for Northern California

I grow catalina plums as well as Santa rosa, and IMHO I don't believe anything can replace a good Santa rosa plum. My tree is incredibly productive. Catalina is also yummy -mine usually have a nice amaretto flavor when picked soft.

I would not suggest you take up valuable orchard space for loquats, I have 4 differnt varieties, none even come close to a delicious apple, peach or pear. But for an edible landscape plant, it's unbeatable.


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RE: Need fruit tree suggestions for Northern California

I used to eat loquats when I was a boy and loved them. Don't they ripen long before most any other fruit- like in March? They don't have to take up much space either so might be worth a try. I'd taste a few first.


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RE: Need fruit tree suggestions for Northern California

I LOVE loquats! Can I have your 4 varieties? I think they taste like "saucy" apricots, and are especially delicious when very ripe. I was planning on acquiring a named variety this year, when I can find one that isn't $60.00.

Carla in Sac


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RE: Need fruit tree suggestions for Northern California

Axel, I have to agree with you. There is nothing like a Santa Rosa plum. When I lived in Los Angeles I used to try every plum that came to the Santa Monica Farmer's market and the Santa Rosa made me the happiest. The only other that came close was the elephant heart plum. When we first moved to Healdsburg a few years ago, we had a rental with a Santa Rosa Plum tree and I was in heaven.

I have tried loquats and while I enjoyed them, I just don't like them enough for a whole tree full. I want to plant trees that have fruit that both my husband and I will enjoy eating for awhile.

I've cooked for a lot of different people and I've found that people's range of taste in food is quite amazing. The great thing about cooking for yourself is you can make food the way you like it and it seems that with gardening you can grow the things you enjoy eating.

I have to say that I am enjoying the passion in everyone's answers. Still, I haven't heard any answers to my questions about planting with water rationing and what's up with multigrafting.


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RE: Need fruit tree suggestions for Northern California

Axel, I have to agree with you. There is nothing like a Santa Rosa plum. When I lived in Los Angeles I used to try every plum that came to the Santa Monica Farmer's market and the Santa Rosa made me the happiest. The only other that came close was the elephant heart plum. When we first moved to Healdsburg a few years ago, we had a rental with a Santa Rosa Plum tree and I was in heaven.

I have tried loquats and while I enjoyed them, I just don't like them enough for a whole tree full. I want to plant trees that have fruit that both my husband and I will enjoy eating for awhile.

I've cooked for a lot of different people and I've found that people's range of taste in food is quite amazing. The great thing about cooking for yourself is you can make food the way you like it and it seems that with gardening you can grow the things you enjoy eating.

I have to say that I am enjoying the passion in everyone's answers. Still, I haven't heard any answers to my questions about planting with water rationing and what's up with multigrafting.


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RE: Need fruit tree suggestions for Northern California

Planting with water rationing: Deep-rooted trees may help. You don't need a dwarfing rootstock to keep deciduous fruit trees small. Choose rootstocks suited to your soil. Prune when the trees are not dormant to limit growth. Prune apricots when rain is not expected for several weeks, to limit disease spread. When trees are just getting started, you can haul water out in a bucket if you need to, using water which you would otherwise waste (keep a bucket in the shower, etc.) Watering deeply, not too frequently, is preferable. Or, you can use drip irrigation which lowers your total water usage.

Multi-grafting: You can purchase multi-grafted trees to increase the number of varieties in your yard, or plant trees close together and keep them small. Either option is especially appropriate for early-blooming trees which need cross-pollination before bees are very active, like many of the Pluots. Multi-grafted trees need care to keep the most vigorous variety from over-taking the others. Prune when the tree is dormant where you want to encourage tip growth, when the tree is not dormant where you do not want to encourage new growth.

If you want to try grafting your own varieties, you can get some valuable instructions on this forum. See link below.

If you love to cook, there are several possibilities among the plums, in addition to Santa Rosa and the European plums. Laroda was named by Sunset several years ago as the best Japanese plum for cooking. It resembles Santa Rosa, but is sweeter and hangs on the tree in good condition longer. Santa Rosa is still a classic for flavor (some may come from a wild California plum), as a pollenizer and for ease of care. Laroda is not self-pollenizing like Santa Rosa. Other Japanese cultivars recommended for cooking are Mariposa or Satsuma (for jam), Wickson (for sauce), Nubiana (turns red). Queen Anne is said to keep its shape when cooked. Flavor King Pluot is also recommended for cooking. As in cobblers and sauce for ice cream.

And of course apricots and cane berries are great for cooking.

Here is a link that might be useful: Grafting tips


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