17 Hardy Fruits That You Can Grow On The Prairies

When I was a kid growing up in central Alberta, I was pretty sure that all good fruit came out of B.C. True, I we had raspberries and strawberries on the farm, but apples, plums, cherries, grapes and the like where all “exotic” fruit that simply didn’t grow in Alberta. How mistaken I was! Or at least, how things have changed! I never would have thought that I could be growing plums, grapes and kiwis just outside of Red Deer, Alberta. But it’s true. There is a whole world of hardy fruit plants that can survive and even thrive on the northern prairies.

Grape Vines

So if you’re looking to grow some “exotic” fruit of your own, here’s my list of 17 hardy fruits that you can grow on the prairies.

1. Cherries

The University of Saskatchewan has really done great work in making cherries a viable prairie fruit. I now know of at least 10 varieties that are available. (I personally have 7 varieties.)

2. Haskap/Honeyberries

This fantastic fruit is amazing! Consider this… Can withstand -47 degree weather, ready for picking by the end of June, can produce 7 kgs of fruit per bush, and tastes great! Take a look at this article I wrote about haskap earlier.

3. Grapes

Yup, that’s right. Grapes in Alberta. Valient is the most common variety, but there are others as well. I’ve had mine for two years now, so I’ll be looking forward to my first harvest soon.

4. Plums

Pembina is the most common, but I’ve found about ten other varieties around.

5. Kiwis

This one blew me away when I heard about it. Kiwis in Canada. Go figure.

6. Blueberries

Perhaps the world’s favorite berry. You too can grow them.

7. Strawberries

Mmmmmm. Strawberries… Perhaps another one of the world’s favorite berries.

8. Raspberries

Despite all the “exotic” fruit I’ve mentioned, I’m afraid the plain ol’ raspberry is my favorite. Red, yellow, or black – wild or tame… They are delicious!

9. Hazelnuts

Nor really sure it’s a fruit, but close enough.

10. Apricots

I haven’t yet planted any yet, but the nursery just north of me is growing them.

11. Chums

Cherry plum, that is.

12. Pears

There are a few good varieties out there with more being developed!

13. Saskatoons

One of the few fruits native to Alberta. Also called service berries.

14. Gooseberry

Much better than the wild kind you ate green as a kid.

15. Cranberries

Why not my your own cranberry sauce this year?

16. Currants

Great for jams and jellies.

17. Apples

Not just crab, but there are all kinds of apples that are hardy enough for the prairies.

So there you have it. Proof that you don’t have to live in California to grow your own fruit. Did I miss some? Let me know!

You can find all of these fruits at either DNA Gardens or T & T Seeds.

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71 Responses to 17 Hardy Fruits That You Can Grow On The Prairies

  1. Amy says:

    I had never heard of haskap before. I just had a look at your past article. Wow! I’m going to be keeping an eye out for these in the spring. They sound so ideal. One of our gardening goals is to grow more of our fruits and veggies.

    I’ll be adding you to my collection of Zone 4 and under blogs. I’m always excited to find another garden blogger growing in a cold climate, as I have a lot to learn!

  2. Dave says:

    Exciting, aren’t they? Haskap has sooo much potential! I’m really looking forward to seeing what kind of harvest I’ll get from them this year.
    Thanks for the link! We cold climate bloggers gotta stick together!

  3. Alex says:

    I live in Edmonton. I bought 3 grape plants last year. One of them actually gave grapes inside the house (it was already in the process when I bought it).

    Of course, the intention is to have the plants outside, I have not being able to do it for the following things:

    1)I do not have my rough grade approve yet and I don’t want to plant them and have to replant.

    2) The backyard is facing north. I’m concerned if I should plant them at the front to give them more sunlight.

    3) I’m concerned with winter protection, I see you built a green house. How did it work in winter? Did you add any kind of heat? or your concern was only with windshield?

    4) Am I too late for transplanting? by the way, they are right know in a indoor trellis and in big pots.

    I appreciate your repply.

  4. Alex says:

    I meant my final grade, I have my rough grade already

  5. Dave says:

    Hi Alex. My thoughts for having my grapes in my greenhouse was primarily for protection, thus the greenhouse was not heated. However, my grapes did die back quite a bit that year. This last winter I took down my trellis and covered the grape vines with hay. Grapes are quite slow to get started here, so I’m still waiting to see how they faired over the winter this year.

    Ideally, you should transplant when plants are dormant, but really you can transplant anytime if you’re going from pots to in the ground – that doesn’t disturb the roots nearly as much as if you were digging them out of the ground to move them somewhere else.

    Hope that helps!

  6. Dianne says:

    Hi Dave,

    I planted a Valiant grapevine last summer. It is against the house in a south exposure, wind protected spot. It is coming up beautifully but … it has little white insects on it. The larger leaves are somewhat spotty with a white colour. I have tried to find out on the web what these insects are and how to get rid of them but have had no success. Any suggestions?

    Thanks,
    Dianne

  7. Dave says:

    Hmmm. It’s hard for me to guess without actually seeing for myself, but if you look here – http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/facts/03-039.htm – there is some information that might help you determine what the trouble is.

  8. Jennifer says:

    Dave, I think you have whitefly. I get it too. I just go by with a strong hose and knock them off periodically. They don’t seem to affect the health of my Valiant.

  9. Jennifer says:

    Sorry, meant Dianne.

  10. Alex says:

    Hi again.

    I finally got my final grade certificate.

    You mentioned I can transplant them anytime. I’m wondering in transplanting them now.

    What kind of trellis would you suggest?

    if I plant them next spring, is there a good chance I can get grapes that season? I read somewhere that grapes need to be in the cold prior producting grapes. is that true?

    Wow, I’m debating what to do because is August.

    Thanks,

  11. Dave says:

    I think I would plant them now. They’re probably eager to get out of the pots and spread their roots. Plus, that will give your roots a chance to become established before winter. I couldn’t verify the “cold required before fruit” theory, but that would be another argument for planting them now.

    Your style of trellis is up to you, just as long as it supports that weight of the vines. Commercial growers often just have a couple wires strung between between posts – kinda like our standard barbed-wire fence, but taller and with greater distance between wires (also not barbed.)

  12. Alex says:

    Hi again,

    I just planted my valiant. I will plant the other two tomorrow.

    My first question is when should I start doing winter protection? and when should I free the plant from it?

    I’m planning to wrap the plant with a lot of old clothing plus a plastic paint container (4 gallons) and plastic Garbage container around it. Could this be enough?

    I don’t want to bury them because I read somewhere this increases the chances of diseases.

    I have read in many places that this plant will make it anyway but what I noticed last year is that the first cold kill one branch easily (so I put it inside right away). The same happen this year when I brought it outside too early and I brought inside again.

    Regarding the person asking about the “white insects”. I think they could be “mealy bugs”. just check.

  13. Georgina says:

    Hi, I have a five year old Valiant that I just picked fruit from this morning, about 10 pounds I think. It was my Mother’s and we inherited it, the past two years we have laid the vines down early in November and covered them with about six inches of loose dirt, we have had no problems with disease.

  14. jo feild says:

    hey where are apples grown in alberta?

  15. Dave says:

    Well, I know Sprout U-pick Apple Farm just outside of Edmonton has many apples. DNA Gardens southeast of Red Deer offers many kinds of hardy apples as well. Those are two places I know of.

  16. Jason says:

    How do I grow Kiwis?

  17. Dave says:

    I haven’t grow them myself, but you can look at this link for more information: http://usagardener.com/how_to_grow_fruits/how_to_grow_hardy_kiwi.php

  18. Alex says:

    Dave,

    Any updates on your grapes this year?

    Thanks,

    Alex

  19. Dave says:

    Well, actually, I’ve moved. The place where I now live has no landscaping done, so I’ll be starting from a clean slate this spring.

  20. Constance says:

    What is (Rough Grade Approval)? I am about to start my spring garden indoors by incubation. I just moved in to an old character house in the Glenora area, downtown. Do I have to apply for some type of certificate to garden in my backyard? The backyard already has some gardening but nothing worth naming.

    I’m about to start a veggy and fruit garden for personal use, not for profit. My back yard faces east and gets huge amounts of east and southern light. In my front yard I get western exposure for my more shady plants.

    I’m going to garden peas, carrots, lettuce, tomatos, herbs, strawberries, blueberries, knuckles, sask berries, kiwi, and maybe even some lemon if I can.

    What do you think? INFO PLEASE thanks

  21. Dave says:

    I guess you’d have to check with your local authorities to be sure, but I sure can’t imagine that you need any type of certificate to garden in your backyard. If there is already an established garden (of sorts), you should be fine to continue.

    I do have to ask what knuckles are, as I’m not familiar with any plants by that name.

  22. Carrie says:

    Hi Dave!
    I am excited to find this blog and find it has lots of great info.

    I am living in Penhold AB and want to start growing grapes this yr. I have a few questions for you.
    What type of soil is best? what kind I should purchase being a first time grower? Does it matter?
    Do they require shade or sunlight? I have many places in which I recieve both but the place in which I would really like to grow them has sunlight till aft, then shade.

    Thanks for your help!

    • Dave says:

      In a nutshell, grapes like to grow in a sunny location (protected from the wind) in sandy soil. There are several varieties of grapes around, but Valiant seems to be one of the more hardy ones. For a little more information, you can look at this page from the Alberta Agriculture website.

  23. Greg says:

    Our yard, south of Calgary, produces excellent Nanking cherries; smaller, and pitted, but very tasty and make wonderful jam and jelly.

  24. Monica says:

    I have a great honeyberrie tree that is in it’s fourth year and has loads of berries which are very bitter-tasting;have I planted the wrong variety? any help wpild be appreciated.

  25. Clayton says:

    Hi Monica. Do you have the name of your Honeyberry? Most of the selections of Edible Honeysuckle have a tinge of tartness as they are so very high in Antioxidants. Thus the dark colors for instance. If you bought Sweetberry Honeysuckle, you have gotten the ornamental plant which is indeed the worst flavour!
    I grow about 250 seedlings from a wide area of sources and there is such an abundance of flavours that can be found. Most are good and some are very good but still can have that unusual tang to them.

    Clayton

  26. I planted Goji Berry last year and it thrived through the summer. We will see if it survived the winter! looking forward to saving some money- at $4/lb dried, these berries may be a little money tree on the south side of my house.

  27. Janet says:

    Carissa, if you are still about, where did you find your Goji Berry bush?

    I’m in northern Alberta (Peace River) with an extensive edible urban yard. Last year I harvested 2 gallons of Valiant grapes off my 5 year old vine (I moved it late in 2008 so it didn’t produce as well as it had the previous two years. I also harvested 5 gallons off my sister’s grape vine. it’s 7 years old but in an excellent location – good drainage, excellent protection about 2 feet from house foundation and superior sun. She directs rainwater to it as the ground slopes away from the house for good drainage. Neither get any more extra winter protection than heaping snow over them. They both benefit from the warming effects of being near concrete sidewalks and drives. Last year I had a bit of whitefly because I let it get water-stressed. Daily water hosings got rid of the infestation.

    As for my other fruit/nut bearing trees and bushes, I’m a bit of a fanatic. I have several blueberry bushes, three honeyberry and two haskaps, three kiwi vines (2 female & 1 male), a Golden pear, a Norland apple , two cherry trees (one Evans, a sour pie cherry and one Sweetheart), an elderberry tree, an almost dead rowan (mountain ash) and a very young one, two black and one red currant bushes, a baby gooseberry bush (we’ll see how it fares, it’s new), a Pembina plum, a hazelnut and a butternut (both planted 2009), a huge chokecherry bush, a aging pincherry and three volunteer pincherry saplings and a raspberry thicket. I also have a rhubarb – not sure what kind but it’s juicy and red.

    You’ll notice a lack of strawberries. I’ve found them a lot of work and space for little berry. My local market garden grow luscious berries which I buy in bulk and freeze. I do a lot of freezing, preserving, and drying as well as wildcrafting gallons of saskatoons and more chokecherries (great wine).

    This year I’ll plant an apricot, a Trebizond Date and some more nut trees if I can find them (Grimos Nuts by mail order, I think). I’d also like some Josta berries and some cranberries but have run out of room. Fortunately I’ve purchased some rural property this winter so will be planning a whole new forest soon.

  28. babka says:

    Goji (wolfberry) – zone 5 (maybe 4)
    get seeds from ‘Richter’s', or plants from ‘Dominion’

    Kiwi – females thriving, males died off every winter
    i’m going to remove the females and transplant as vines
    and in their place, more valiant grapes, hopefully from cuttings

    if anyone has any pruning tips for valiant’s, that would be appreciated
    mine are 3rd year, fan trained

  29. babka says:

    i found an alberta supplier for goji (Okotoks)
    might be a hardier variety

    http://www.saskatoonfarm.com/

  30. T Wilson says:

    Wow Janet we think alike. I am 1 hour north of you and have many of the same plants. I have looked at the kiwi and grapes but never tried. I would like to know how your nut trees wintered (when you find out). If they worked for you I am going to give them a shot. My haskaps bore last year even with the June frosts and lack of bees. My Evans cherries were delicious and were tasty canned although a bit soft. I think they need less cooking time. Our Norland apples blossoms survived the frost and gave a few very yummy apples. I have giant nanking cherries and blueberries but they are too young to fruit.
    I ate my 4th pomogranate off my indoor bush this morning and I have eaten fresh figs this winter off a houseplant purchased last spring from Henry Fields online.
    If people want cheap goji bushes check out Rockwood gardens online.

  31. Rob Read says:

    Janet,

    Your edible landscape sounds amazing!

    I’ve been searching for a source for Trebizond Date for quite some time, either plant or seed – if you could let me know where you’re getting yours, I would love to find out, since the only company I’ve found so far that supplies them is in the US, and won’t ship to me in Ontario.

    Please email me if you would be so kind,

    Thanks!

    Rob Read (readrobread at gmail.com)

  32. Jennifer says:

    My family planted honeyberries about three yrs. ago… boy are they good! We make ours into a ‘saskatoon’ pudding and pour it on ice cream.

    A tip for starters it to cover the bushes with nets. The first couple yrs. we never and couldn’t figure out why we never got that many berries. We thought that it may be our water or soil, but we’re organic farmers, so that couldn’t have been a problem. After we put the nets over over, we got buckets!
    This year we picked around 5 gallons from four of our older plants, and about 2 gallons from 5 of our newly planted ones.

    About the kiwi’s and goji berries, what can you do with them? Where should you plant them, and do they need protection from wind, heavy frosts?

  33. carissa says:

    Hey Janet,
    I bought my Goji and a huge variety of prairie hardy fruit from Shallow Creek Nurseries. She’s sold the acreage, but here’s their website as she would still have connections to other folks in the hardy fruit scene: http://albertafruittrees.tripod.com/.

    How have your nut trees done come winter?

  34. Dave R says:

    Bumped into your website looking for info on growing apples in Alberta. Is anyone aware of a forum(s) that has people sharing info about growing trees, gardens in Alberta? Tons of forums and info for everywhere else in the world but I have had not much luck on Alberta specific information.
    I am currently growing about 12 different varieties of apples, a couple of crabs and some ornamentals that I use for rootstock. Also have some Nanking cherries, the U of S “Romance” series cherries, Haskaps, red and black currants and raspberries. I would like to grow a “test” orchard or “demo” orchard of apples and am seeking information on where to locate my orchard on my property. ie on a south facing slope, at the bottom of a slope, up on the top, soil amendments, tree spacing etc. I have 320 acres to chose from so I should be able to get a good location.
    Thanks for any input.
    Dave. d4dave1@hotmail.com

  35. Mike S says:

    Just my two cents worth…
    I’m expanding my garden from just a few rows of veggies and a patch of flowers. I hope to build up to maintain ourselves for a couple months if not more, but have been thinking more and more about sustainability. I have a dream of getting self reliant as much as possible, but I realize I will never be completely so. I live North East of Edmonton about 300 K’s (Zone 2/3) and have a two acres area set aside for the “garden”. I have a 53 /4 acres that I yet to decide if I am going to completely turn into a orchard or just expand the garden that much more. These honeyberries look like they could be for me as I have seen only one person at the farmers market introducing them. I haven’t asked how successful they were, but I will next time I go. Hope to glean any info from this and any adjoined sites.

  36. Krista says:

    i live in Peace River and have heard a few people saying that they can grow goji berry bushes here but as far as i know, they can only grow in zones 5-9 and i believe Peace River is zone 2! am i missing something here? can someone clarify this for me please?
    thanks a bundle!

    • Dave says:

      Krista,

      My brother who lives near Sundre is growing goji bushes. You can contact him through his website at saskaberryranch.com.

  37. EBH says:

    According to SaskGojiPower in Lumsden, Saskatchewan:

    Goji berry plants can survive winter temperatures as low as -40 celcius (-40 F) and summer temperatures as high as 38 celcius (100 F). The goji berry can survive in zones 2-7, out of this range it is too cold or hot.

  38. Eleanor says:

    Quite enjoying these conversations. Here in Ontario the haskap is relatively unknown yet. My question is: are the bushes of any use ornamentaly in a huge border??? Hope some one can answer this! Thanks!

  39. Cecilia says:

    I’m a total novice at this, so forgive my naive questions! Could I grow strawberries in a sfg? Also, I don’t have a lot of space, how could I grow raspberries so they don’t spread too much? Thanks!

    • Dave says:

      Cecilia: Strawberries would be great in a SFG. As for raspberries, you either need some sort of edging that would go in the soil to keep the roots from spreading, or regular pruning would work ask well.

  40. Cecilia says:

    Thanks for the reply Dave, how many plants per square should I plant? Thanks again!

    • Dave says:

      Cecilia: I think I would try to plant four strawberries per square foot. That might be a litte tight, but that’s what I would do.

  41. suzanne says:

    Hi,
    I live near Fairview, AB and am just starting to get into fruit and nut trees. Last year I got one apple tree, one crabapple tree, some kiwi trees, 2 valient grapes, and 3 different cherry trees and the haskapp and a hazelnut from t &t seeds.
    unfortunatly only my polinator for the hakskapp lived last summer and looks ok this year. My Hazelnut is showing signs of life as are my apple trees and the cherry trees are barely showing sings of life. Should I have covered them for the winter or am i doing something else wrong? I do live on an immature acreage that is essentially a field and don’t have wind cover.
    Janet, if you are about, I would love to see what you have done, and hear about your experience. If interested let me know, suzy_hale@yahoo.ca.

    I was also wondering if anyone knows how to propagate the haskap. (i am a very new gardener)

    • Dave says:

      Suzanne: Give them a few weeks and give us an update. Somethings just take awhile to ‘come back to life’ each spring!

  42. Janet says:

    Hello again everyone. Apologies for my “post and run” last March. I got busy with my Peace River garden, preserving the produce I had someone in Manning custom grow for me, my “little” potato patch at a friends acreage out at Three Creeks plus looking for more land.
    It’s been a beautiful gardening weekend and I have MUCH to do but am moving slow due to a cold/fever and need a rest so here I am. This is the first part of my To-Do list: finish soaker/drip hose on carrots & cukes, straw mulch cukes, make 5 more tomato cages from concrete re-wire, finish thinning carrots, try a replant of beets, hill & straw mulch the potatoes, get plastic tunnels or wall ‘o water over the peppers to give them some more heat and get a batch of aerated compost tea started. Then I have more trees and shrubs to plant – but not in my Peace River garden. It’s too full.
    So, before I get into a full report, let me reply to those of you who asked questions… BTW, it is GREAT to see all the northern Alberta gardeners on here – not that I don’t enjoy hearing from all of you but northern gardeners seem to be a rare species on gardening websites.
    Dave, thanks for the encouragement re: growing/blogging. My challenge is time. Maybe if I could figure out how to clone myself…. My Issai kiwis bit the dust this winter. The male was struggling last year and didn’t come back in the spring. One female succumbed to an unidentified pest this spring, the other was limping along so I yanked her out. I think I have them in a bad location – not enough sun or air, though well sheltered from wind. I did learn over the winter that the Issai kiwis are supposed to be bi-sexual, despite the labels they come with. I just purchased 3 replacements (Canadian Tire end-of-season sale) – All are “Arctic Beauties” (Actinidia kolomikta), one male & two females. I’ll put in the ground for the year – deep sun – then move to my new property next spring. I’ll keep you posted. I’d popped a common honeysuckle in the male kiwi place last spring and it’s doing fabulously. The bees love it and the orange/yellow blossoms are a nice little pop of color.
    OTOH, my Valiant grape is looking awesome – many drupes of pinhead size grapes. It was a bit slow to get started this spring so I was nervous for it and didn’t prune them as hard as I should/could have. Last fall, I harvested 4 gallon pails last year. I juice like making jelly juice then can it without sugar in jars. To serve I mix in agave nectar or simple syrup then add as much soda water as juice and ice. Yummy stuff. Unfortunately, my sister killed her luscious grape vine. Didn’t snow cover it and walked on it all winter.
    T. Wilson, did you get some grapes and kiwis planted? As long as they are are in a real sunny location (they even like south west), are protected a bit from north wind and get lots of snow cover they should do fine. I really think the added bonus of being next to the concrete is good for mine so would recommend a good rock mulch. I’m totally envious of your pomegranetes and figs. How much light do they need indoors. I have a pretty good houseplant jungle with one window that gets sun from 10 am-4pm year round. Do you think that would work? What varieties of each do you have? Anyone growing anything else indoors? Meyer lemons? Guavas?
    Rob Read, you’d asked about the Trebizond date. Neither supplier was able to deliver the goods last year. Turned out the first supplier (Mr. V’s from Smoky Lake, AB) shipped a regular old Mountain Ash, not the “Shipova” promised. I was more vigilant with the second supplier (from the west coast – can’t remember the name). I phoned and had them check the Latin name and sure ‘nuff… another Mountain Ash. I have found a Canadian supplier – the Green Barn Nursery in Montreal http://www.greenbarnnursery.ca. Shipovas are sold out for this year but they have a number of exotics I’d like to trial for planting spring, 2012 on my new property.
    Thanks for the goji info, Babka. How you got them growing? Where are you located? And thanks to you, too, Carissa. I did see Shallow Creek sold their nursery. How are your goji’s growing? My nut tree report for June, 2011 is:
    Beaked hazelnut is doubled in size from last year. It had about 10 blossoms this year (tiny dark pink things stuck tight to the branch) but without a pollinator, none fruited. Surprisingly, the marauding deer left it alone. They girdled the young mountain ash beside it shortly after I posted last year. Killed it (although I learned about a grafting procedure called “bridge grafting” that I’ll try if I have another similar girdling event). The deer also leave the ‘Pixwell” gooseberry alone. It, too has doubled in size and has about 2 cups of berries ripening. My friend Brad (whose mother custom grew veggies for me last year) says his family farm in Manning, AB had a grove of wild beaked hazelnuts. I’ve got another that is waiting for planting out. The butternut tree was at my sister’s place and her dog chewed on it and killed it last summer (different sister than grape vine sister). I’m not sure it would be hardy here anyway, but I like to experiment.
    Two of the blueberry bushes are bumping along, surviving but not really looking pert. One succumbed to a spider mite attack. The haskap bushes are doing incredible. One set a huge number of blossoms but didn’t have a pollinating buddy so again, no fruit. The others blossomed later and lesser. I’ve got more of those in pots to be set out, too. I’d stuck a Cornelian cherry (Cornus mass) in the ground when I planted the haskaps not realizing it will grow huge (15’ x 20’). I’ll need to move it but will wait for spring as they don’t care for fall transplanting. It’s really a kind of dogwood which I chose because birds and squirrels love the fruits. I figure I need to do something to keep them fed, happy and away from my edibles.
    Speaking of cherries, my Evans didn’t make it through the late frosts last year. It was all budded up, then we got 3 days of really hard (-7C) frost and that was that. I chipped the branches and trunk and used the chips for smoking meats on the BBQ all summer. Not quite as nice as apple but okay. I have a replacement Evans for the new property. My sister (the grape one) gave me several suckers of her Nanking cherry shrub late last spring. They survived all year crammed helter-skelter into a pot, watered only when they looked pitiful wilted then survived in the same pot all winter. This spring I crammed them as a bundle into a flower bed – temporary (hah!). The darn things are growing like blazed. Must add that to my To-Do list… pot up those Nankings for the new property.
    The “Sweetheart” cherry is doing excellent despite us snapping several branches off over the winter with too-casual snow throwing and too-rambunctious dog-play. I’m going to try moving that little tree this fall when I plant it’s playmates (now in pots) on the new place. I’ve got a “Romeo” and an “SK Carmine”.
    Dave R., did you get started on your demo orchard? I’d be keen to hear what and how you’ve sited your plantings. I’ve been immersed in learning about permaculture design for the last year. Permaculture brings together everything I’ve been learning for the last 30 years of gardening –very awesome. Choosing the right plant for the right site is an important element so I think you are on the right path. Another permaculture technique is planting in “guilds”, choosing those plants and trees whose needs and strengths complement each other. It is the basis of planning and planting. At the end of July I’m taking a course with Jude Hobbs in Oregon on designing edible food forests. There is a lot of info on spacing trees, under and cover planting, etc. I can give you book titles and articles if you are interested.
    What kinds of apples do you have, Dave R? Do you have any of those old-fashioned yellow transparent apples? I think they were originally from Russia. Do you know if they sucker or will graft? I’m also curious about your currants. Do you have any problems with mildew or viruses? Do you grow clove currants? I’m looking for info and tips on them. Also, jostaberries, which I understand are a gooseberry/red currant cross.
    The two year old Norland in my Peace River yard almost died this winter. Two things happened: First it developed a sunscald on the main trunk. The bark got rough and black, started splitting. Then in February, my daughter’s dog gnawed off three of the largest lower branches. Come April it didn’t look very good at all – not leafed out when the Golden Pear had leaves the size of quarters. I trimmed up the chewed branches. I was going to dig it out but decided to treat it biodynamically. I made a tea of dried calendula blossoms and rainwater, let it cool then poured it slowly over the sunscald/crack. I fed it a seaweed fertilizer and sprinkled Azomite on the soil in the grow area. It’s rebounded nicely, all leafed out and even blossomed a couple of clusters on the highest branches. I think it might make it. I’ll give it a drink of aerated compost tea when I get it brewed.
    I’ve now got a Norland, a Norkent and a September Ruby in pots waiting for the guy with the subsoiler to do his thing on my new property so they can be planted.
    I’ve mentioned this new property a few times. It’s quite a little story – the replacement for the 5-acre river plot I bought in January, 2010 (the one I mentioned in my last post). When the snow melted last spring (right after I posted), I went out to my new property, planting plans in hand, all excited to do soil samples so I could get started planting trees and root veggies even before I started building. Turns out I’d bought me a gravel pit. Beautiful building site, magnificent view of the Peace river and hills, mature spruce building site and NOT ONE TEASPOON OF SOIL!!
    So, it was back to the drawing board – or rather the real estate book, having learned an expensive lesson. I took a crash course in digging pits and doing field soil samples, tracked down the soil maps for the area and spend last summer shopping – again. I found a chunk of bare land in the village of Berwyn – almost a half acre, never-been-turned prairie sod, at the edge of town. Then I spent the winter learning and planning. And, like the true growing fanatic that I am, I bought 9 trees and 14 shrubs before I’ve turned the soil or even finalized building plans. I shouldn’t be allowed to set foot in a nursery or greenhouse – too dangerous for my bank account!
    That gravel pit purchase was also the reason I grew 670# of potatoes at my friend’s acreage in Three Creeks last year. I’d ordered 10# of these varieties of potato seeds: fingerlings (Banana, French, Peanut) and full-size (Caribe, Sangre, Russet Burbank, German Butterball). Everyone who visited me between October and March went home with a sack of potatoes. I still have about 20# of peanut fingerlings fit to eat.
    Mike, I resonate with your goal of sustainability. My plan for the Berwyn property is to offer my garden/edible forest as a demonstration and education site. I’d like to share what I know with others as I learn myself because I believe that one day we won’t be able to rely on food arriving to our doors on a slick of petroleum transport the way it does now. I also like eating wholesome and healthy, which I suspect many of you do as well. So much tastier, hmmm?
    So…other food trees on my Peace River property (where I’m still living and gardening) are doing well…Golden Pear (ussurian), elderberry (sambucus) – cut back to a stump 2 years ago and letting regrow due to a virus on the old wood, chokecherry (wild), pincherry & several new 6’ high suckers, currant bushes (doing okay but need more sun), raspberries (loaded with fruit). Didn’t get that apricot but did get a Shagbark Hickory from Grimo Nuts. Mr. Grimo said it didn’t need a pollinator but others say it does so I’ll need to move it and find a mate. It’s a 3’ tall stick with a frizz of leaves right now.
    I also have a HUGE aspen, polar bear willow, Amur maple, larch and several decorative shrubs (viburnum, yellow-twig dogwood, hansa rose, morden rose, Jacque Cartier and another Explorer rambling rose, mock orange, spirea. Sheesh, no wonder I need more land.
    Suzanne, I’ve been thinking about your orchard/garden and wondering how it’s doing with all the rain we’ve been having. Things look so lush this year.
    Well, I’m rested up now and ready for another go outdoors. Gonna get those carrots thinned before dark, and maybe the potatoes hilled. Supposed to rain tomorrow.
    If any of you are ever in Peace River, give me an email and we’ll arrange a garden tour. Nothing I love better than trading stories and tips with growing addicts like myself.
    (sorry for the giant post, Dave. Thanks for sharing your space)

  43. Dave R says:

    Well I was asked about an update on my little orchard. We have been busy with our regular lives, farming and building a new shop so life has been a wee bit hectic. I am considering starting my own “apple” blog for a couple of reasons. I believe that my journey to creating my own apple orchard should have value for others that are either considering doing it or are doing it. They could learn from my mistakes and perhaps avoid them and perhaps learn from my successes as well. I just do not want to get into the whole “make a website” thing so will try and find a suitable host.
    I currently have 15 apple trees of various varieties. Some varieties I have been grafting on some root stock from a crabapple my parents had back in the 1070′s which I am told is, in all likelihood, a Siberian Crab. Regardless it is tough as nails, thumbs its nose at harsh Alberta winters, grazing by moose and deer and the clumsy grafting and pruning attempts of a beginning apple grower. I have been propagating it and transplanting it and have several grafts on them.
    I have also been grafting on to and from a Dolgo Crab and a Harding Crab both planted here in the 1970′s. The Harding Crab has been the better tree never suffering a winter die back or disease issues despite being virtually ignored for the first 20 years of its life.
    The apple varieties I am currently growing are:
    Norland – very prolific, easy to grow, lots of apples which are tasty when fresh. They drop easily and do not keep well. Usually the first to ripen here
    September Ruby – Mine are smaller, red, tart with a tougher skin. They ripen in the middle of September here. The moose have beaten my trees up badly for the past few years despite my best efforts however I managed to protect my trees this past winter and will do so again in 2011.
    Goodland – I rellay like this apple and the few that I have eaten were great. I like tart crisp apples and this one is great. The tree got some kind of bark scab this spring and I had to prune it way back in an attempt tp get rid of the scab so no fruit from it for a couple of years. I did plant another one at the far edge of my yard in hopes of speeding up the process.
    Parkland – Nice little apple, good eating. We had hail this year and the hail beat the apples up pretty badly so it would be unfair for me to say much about this apple
    Norkent – I have not had any apple from this tree yet. It was also affected by that bark scab and I had to prune it back although nowhere near as severely as the Goodland apple.
    Odyssey – Another victim of the bark scab and I have not had any fruit from it yet.
    Harelred – For whatever reason this tree did not have any bark scab on it even though it is between two trees that did get it. No fruit yet but the tree is growing well.
    Battleford – This is an old variety and I planted it more for experimentation than anything else. No fruit yet but no damage yet either.
    I bought 100 Siberian Crab rooted plugs from Alta Nursery Bowden this spring. My plan was to put them in pots until I could get a chance to plant them properly. To be absolutely blunt this was a bad idea and I won’t be doing it again. We had a crappy summer with lots of rain so almost drowned most of the plugs. Then we protected them from the rain and they promptly dried out and I lost some to drought. The micro-environment of the large pots – 5 gallon pails – is just too sensitive to climate changes unless you are prepared to work with them every day and with our farm etc we were just too busy. I am fall planting them as I write this and will water them in well before the frost gets in the ground.
    My plan is to obtain some of the new U of S apple varieties and graft them onto the 100 Siberian crabs and any of my own apple varieties that I take a shine to as well. If all goes well I want to order another 100 plugs again although I am not sure if I will go back to Alta Nurseries at Bowden. Some of the rooted plugs I received were no bigger than 8 inches long and about as thick as telephone cord at best and the wind could easily blow them off my transplanting table.
    My Haskap are growing, and that is about all I can say for them. No fruit, no blossoms and growth is painfully slow despite being next to the garden and getting regular care. I have the Borealis, Berry Blue and Northern Jewel varieties. The Borealis I have had for a couple of years the Berry Blue and Northern Jewel are new this year. I purchased the later two from Alta Nurseries at Bowden as well and unfortunately, while they do ship two varieties, they failed to mark which one was which and I sort of wanted to know.
    My U of S cherries were a mixed bag of success. No fruit, two bushed died over winter and two survived. I protected them from the deer and moose by covering them so the die off could have been my own fault.
    My currants are growing well despite taking a beating from the deer over winter. I did not get any fruit this year due to the damage but they are healthy and growing with no signs of disease….yet…knock on wood.
    We are making long term plans – 2 to 3 years – to put up an 8 foot game fence around our home area of approx 10 acres. The hope is this will end of deer/moose problems as well as prevent some of the predators from coming in the yard. This should reduce the amount of work required to protect our trees and shrubs, help the fruit trees and shrubs to produce better and alleviate some of our concerns over walking out our door into the path of bears/cougar/coyote etc.
    Sorry for writing a book here.
    Regards
    Dave R.

  44. MikeH says:

    If all goes well I want to order another 100 plugs

    Produce your own – http://portageperennials.wordpress.com/2011/06/24/apple-rootstock/

    Regards,
    Mike

  45. Dave R says:

    Thank you for the link. I have downloaded the pdf and will get a better look at it in the next day or two. I considered growing my own rootstock however I did not want to wait for another year or more to get some rootstock actively growing. Plus getting 100 of my own would take some doing so I thought I would get a jump this way. I do agree with you however and I think I might propagate my own root stocks now both for economics and for better root stock. The other bonus is I wouldn’t have to deal with 100 at a time. My bad.
    Regards,
    Dave R.

  46. Rob Spencer says:

    I agree that fruit has come a long way and that there are more options out there than ever before. I’d clarify / question the cranberry choice. We can do Highbush cranberry, but the cranberry that we all think of (Ocean Spray, cranberry sauce, etc)is the bog cranberry and I don’t think that we can really do that one here. The Highbush is nice looking, and has nice fruit, but they have pits, I believe, so more of a juice/jelly kind of fruit.

  47. Jon Lindhout says:

    Hi, I’ve been growing grapes in Sylvan Lake for twenty years with great success. I have both valient and beta varieties along the south facing garage wall. I have never done anything special to winter them over, other than the normal fall tasks required ie: soaking well prior to freezeup. On a different note, I have a potted peach tree that has been producing since it’s third year. I winter it over inside my unheated garage, taking it back outdoors in the spring. Last summer I had at least two dozen peaches on the tree! I have seventeen different potted boxwood scrubs that also stay inside the garage during the winter. We are zone two in Sylvan, so it’s sort of a rare thing to have some of the plants that have been successful for me.
    [img]http://www.albertahomegardening.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/homegrowngrapes-001.jpg[/img]
    [img]http://www.albertahomegardening.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/peachtreesuccess.jpg[/img]

    • Dave says:

      Jon: That’s awesome! You’re the first I’ve heard of to be growing peaches in Alberta! I guess I’ve one more thing to add to my ‘bucket list’. Thanks for the pics!

    • Betty Rainville says:

      Hello Jon,
      I am impressed with your 20 year record of growing grapes. My new Valiant grapes produced one cluster last year, but have 15 or 16 clusters this year. They are turning a deep purple/blue now. My question is when do you harvest them? It is mid August now. I live in Southern Alberta. How long do I wait after they turn this colour?
      Thanks for your help.

  48. Elaine says:

    blackberries can be grown in Edmonton also – my friend has her plants loaded with berries every year

  49. Louise says:

    I have a pear tree that produced a few pears this year. I live in Peace River and I wonder when I should pick them.

    • Dave says:

      Louise: I’m not sure for picking times (as my pear trees are all quiet young and are not producing yet.) I would recommend eating one and seeing if it’s ripe! If it is, pick them. If not, wait.

  50. Carlos says:

    Wow, I tough I was along in this world of gardening !!! thank you for all of the encouraging comments !!! I will keep going with my garden/cold frame.

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