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Pear Trees for my Small Kitchen Garden

This ancient pear tree stands about 40 feet tall. It’s loaded with pears, but all are way out of reach.

Many posts ago, I advocated that autumn is the time of year to plant fruit in your small kitchen garden. I laid out my plan to acquire and plant a pear tree this fall, and to share the process with readers of this blog. Things haven’t progressed as quickly as I’d expected, but I want to make it clear: I’m making progress.

Nothing Available Locally

I explained in two earlier posts (post 1, post 2) that I simply can’t find pear trees in local gardening stores and nurseries at this time of year. So, I’ve been prowling on-line for a nursery that suits me, and that carries a tree I want to own. To keep everything above board, here is the complete agenda for my search:

I’ve been seeking…

  • …a reasonable variety of trees
  • …a rock-bottom price
  • …an informative site with (good) enough instructions for gardeners of zero skill
  • …a nursery that will deliver my trees in autumn so I can get them planted
  • …a web site with an affiliate program in hopes I might establish a long-term relationship with them and make a little coin from this web site

I haven’t yet found what I’ve been seeking.

A Very Brief Overview of Nurseries

I found many nurseries that have on-line presences. In fact, one found my blog before I found them and they left a comment about an earlier post. That site also has an affiliate program… but here’s the problem: Their price for a single pear tree was staggering (to me). If I wait until spring, I can get a tree locally for half their price—and I won’t have to pay shipping.

Many other on-line nurseries offer young, bare-root pear trees for under $10 per tree (bare-root means there’s no soil around the roots of the tree when they ship it). One nursery even offered trees at various stages of development; the older the tree, the more you pay for it. Here are links to the most compelling of the nurseries I visited… though there were at least a dozen others:

 

My On-Line Nursery

I settled on Summerstone Nursery for several reasons:

  • They are used to shipping trees for planting in autumn.
  • They were amazingly responsive to emails—and were patient when I bollixed my order and asked to make changes.
  • Their prices didn’t cause indigestion
  • They offer a good variety of pear (and other) trees

Pollinators

Pollination is important to producing the best possible fruit. Many trees pollinate themselves so a single tree is enough to get a decent fruit crop. Some trees produce fruit wether or not pollination occurs, but the unpollinated fruits are inferior to the pollinated ones. So, it’s often necessary to plant two or more trees to get good fruit from any one tree. With pears, nearly every varity can pollinate nearly every other variety… but having two trees of the same variety is no better than having one (unless it’s a self-pollinator). Click this link to open an Excel spreadsheet showing which varieties of pears can pollinate each other: www.flowerworld.usa

But Summerstone isn’t a great site for inexperienced gardeners. There’s very little useful information about their trees on the web site. For example, the instructions for planting are terse and don’t differentiate between planting in the spring and planting in the fall. As well, the site identifies specific trees as pollinators for other trees but doesn’t explain that nearly every variety of pear tree can pollinate nearly every other variety (see the box for more about pear pollinators). Also, descriptions of the pear varieties don’t always reveal how tall and broad the trees might become—or which hardiness zones they’re best suited to.

The photo of cherries is from the Summerstone Nursery web site… I ordered a cherry tree along with the two new pear trees.

For my own needs, I visited several nursery web sites and jumped among them to gather the information I wanted before making a purchasing decision. It would have been great to find one on-line nursery that provided all the features I wanted, but technology being what it is, I was still able to muddle through.

My Small Kitchen Garden Tree Order

I was going to plant just one pear tree… and it was going to be Bartlett because Bartlett is a self-pollinating variety; you need only one. But a crazy thing happened (don’t you know): I got really pumped about Moonglow pears and wanted to try them. Moonglow needs a pollinator—a non-Moonglow variety. So, I ordered one of each (Moonglow and Bartlett). Oh, and a sour cherry tree… because I love sour cherry pies and preserves. For good measure, I threw in two pecan trees—I may be a little too far north to keep pecans happy, or I may not be… but that’s a discussion for another post.

I may not see my new trees until November. I’ll keep you apprised.

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