By Mindy McIntosh-Shetter
The other day, I was having lunch with a friend of mine and she ordered a pear salad.
Through our discussion she commented on the fact that she wished she could grow her own pears.
But due to her living environment she felt she could not.
Her living environment was an apartment with a balcony.
Why she felt she could not grow pears perplexed me. She had apple trees, peach trees and even a fig all in a containers on her terrace. As I inquired, she admitted that she really did not know much about raising pears and in doing so she felt it could not be done.
Once the truth was out, I reassured her that yes she could grow pears alongside her other orchard plants. So on to the nursery we went to purchase her pear tree.
You may have noticed that I said pear tree. In this project, we are going to only use self-pollinating trees, which will reduce the cost and keep the number of trees down. Also, we are going to look for dwarf varieties. These will keep the growth down and allow the grower to reach the fruit easily.
The next step in this process is the container. You will need one that is at least 10 gallons in size and decorative. The decorative nature of the container helps it fit into a small space without looking like a tree in a pot. This was very important for my friend since she loves to entertain on her balcony.
If you cannot find a decorative pot to plant into, do not fret. Use a plain pot and insert it into the decorative one during the gardening season.
The next item that we needed was the soil. A good, rich soil is the base of the planting medium. To this we will need to add a good amount of well-seasoned manure and/or compost.
Once we got all the materials together and the soil mixed, the next step was to assemble the container orchard. To do this, wash and sterilize the container and its drainage material. After these items have dried, place the drainage material in the pot and fill half full with the potting medium mixture. Now we were ready to plant.
Remove the pear tree from its container and place in the pot. Make sure that the tree is not being planted deeper then it was in its original container. Once the depth has been checked, fill in around the tree and gently tap down.
Since we did not build this orchard where it was going to be permanently, we moved it to its new location and then watered it. This way the container was lighter.
Now my friend has her own pear tree, which will begin to fruit in about eight years. While this is a long wait for a pear lover, it will be worth the wait to be able to harvest your own homegrown fruit.
So until we blog again, never, say never when it comes to agriculture and a human’s desire for fresh food.