In the Garden:
Upper South
September, 2006
Regional Report

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In addition to luscious, flavorful apples, you can easily grow a wide range of fruits in your yard.

A Fruitful Experience

Unless you've been on a deserted isle for some time, you most likely know that for good health you should eat nine servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Just as French fries really don't count as a vegetable, neither do calorie- and fat-laden fruit desserts. It's much better to eat fruit in as simple a state as possible, which means it should be of the best quality and flavor. Other than specialty produce stores or farmer's markets, the ideal way to achieve this is by growing your own.

I'll be the first to admit that some fruits are much more difficult to grow successfully than others, often requiring multiple applications of pesticides, either chemical or organic. The good news is that by learning about the most pest-resistant varieties, some of this can be reduced. In addition, there are a number of fruits, even ones that are expensive to buy, that are very easily grown in the home garden. Another advantage of home-growing is that you can select varieties for better flavor or extra-high nutrient content.

About NAFEX
Fruit growing has been one of my favorite parts of gardening for years now, but after attending the recent annual meeting of the North American Fruit Explorers (NAFEX), I'm more enthusiastic than ever. NAFEX is a non-profit organization, founded in 1967, that's comprised of professional pomologists, nurserymen, and commercial orchardists as well as those who just love to grow fruit. Some members specialize in well-known fruits like apples or pears, while others grow more obscure items, such as mayhaws, pawpaws, or persimmons. Many are collectors, especially of heirloom varieties, while others look to developing new ones.

There is a ready exchange of information, ideas, and experiences among members in special interest groups and in the quarterly journal, POMONA. The Web site (http://www.nafex.org) offers contact information for people with expertise in the different fruits, plus other topics.

Recommended Varieties
From the lectures, field trips, and tastings, I've added to my list of fruits to order this winter for next year's garden:

Four of the best pawpaw cultivars are 'Shenandoah', 'Sunflower', 'Overleese', and 'NC-1'. Three other new varieties to consider are 'Potomac', 'Susquehannah', and 'Wabash'.

Recommended gooseberry varieties include 'Hinomaki Red' and 'Amish Red'. Both are productive, with good flavor and resistance to white pine blister rust and other diseases.

'Titania' is a new black currant cultivar that produces high-quality fruit on plants that are immune to white pine blister rust. 'Crandall' clove currant (Ribes aureum var. villosa) is a U.S. native that makes a good ornamental with highly fragrant flowers and abundant fruit.

'Jonkeer Van Tets' is the best choice for a red currant. Choose ORUS 10 over ORUS 8 for a productive jostaberry.

Apricots grow best on a north-facing slope with good cold-air drainage. 'Harogem' is a hardy, self-fertile apricot, but all the Canadian Harrow series are good plants. Other hardy, productive apricot cultivars include 'Alfred', 'Henderson', 'Puget Gold', and 'Tomcot'. 'Sugar Pearl' is a new variety that appears to be a good choice, too.

Of the new everbearing blackberries, 'Prime Jan' is more productive with better flavor. As with other blackberries, tipping the canes is beneficial for increasing lateral branching.

'Caroline' is becoming the preferred variety of everbearing red raspberry. It is also the highest in vitamins. 'Kiwi Gold' is the best choice for an everbearing yellow raspberry. An everbearing black raspberry will be available in several years.

'Goldrush' and 'Monark' are two new and reliable apple varieties. Other apples to consider growing include 'Summer Rambo', 'Roxbury Russet', 'Golden Russet', 'Pome Gris', and 'Stayman'.


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