Growing Just Photos

Enjoying the “Fruits” of my Labour

For years I’ve been obsessed with growing fabulous, fresh fruit right here in Central Alberta. Not just saskatoons and strawberries – but grapes, plums, cherries, watermelons – yes, even kiwis and apricots. And I want to grow it all in my own backyard. Well, I can’t say I’ve got all those things checked off the list yet, but this year I’ve gotten closer than ever before.

This has been a fantastic season for growing fruit. After starting from scratch 5 years ago, my backyard is now producing all kinds of different delicious fruit. One of my personal favorites has been my Pembina Plums. We had about 5 gallons of these amazing plums this year. So juicy and sweet! I don’t think there is a fruit I enjoy more!

Pembina PlumsThen there are my “Chums” – my Cherry Plums. This is the first year that they have produced, and they are quite a nice little treat.

Manor ChumsThis variety is the “Manor Chum”.¬†They are greenish-purple on the outside, and deep purple on the inside. Very tasty.

Manor Cherry PlumAnother highlight for me this year has been my raspberries. My Wyoming Black Raspberry grew like crazy – so much so that I think I’ll have to cut them right down to the ground this fall! They have almost overgrown the north side of my greenhouse! But they sure produce a lot of raspberries! And they are the perfect compliment to my “Fall Gold” Raspberries. These yellow raspberries are so mild! It’s all the flavor of a raspberry without the ‘raspy-ness’!

Fall Gold and Wyoming Black RaspberriesOf course, my haskaps really started to produce this year. I was amazed at how densely these little berries covered the branches of my little bushes. The kids loved picking these for a little snack. (And I’m excited for when my wife bakes up a batch of haskap berries muffins this winter!

Haskap BerriesMy grapes continue to ripen – I expect to harvest them in a couple of weeks. (My grape syrup from last year has just about run out.)

Valient GrapesMy muskmelons are getting to be a good size too. (Never heard of muskmelons? Think cantaloupe.) They got a late start, but I think they’ll be big enough for a tasty dessert or breakfast in the next days.

MuskmelonAnd finally, another fruit that I’ve highly enjoyed has been my cherries. I believe I had three varieties produce this year – hoping for another two to be mature by next year.

Sour CherriesSo it’s been a pretty great year for fruit. And hopefully next year will be even better! My kiwis have grown like never before (their vines have reached my garage roof), my apricots are coming along nicely, my blueberries are surviving (though not exactly thriving), and my hazelnut tree is slowly making progress. So we shall see what next year brings…

Upick Farm Review

Prairie Perfect Orchards near Innisfail

This weekend was the annual Summertime Country Drive (a collection of 25 central Alberta farms & attractions). One of the destinations along the way was Prairie Perfect Orchards – a brand new fruit farm featuring cherries, honeyberries, and apples. Although this was just their first year open to the public, they easily win the “Best Presentation Award”. Their grounds are beautifully landscaped and well kept, facilities are clean, there are attractive signs everywhere so you never get lost – and even the grass was weed free!

Prairie Perfect Orchards

My Experience

First impressions were great. As I stated above, everything was beautiful. After we parked we walked towards the main building and were cheerfully greeted by the owners. Although we caught them between seasons (too late for honeyberries, and about a week too early for cherries), they offered us samples of cherry sauce [for ice cream and such], cherry jelly, and a delightful rhubarb beverage. We also got a tour of the apple orchard and the cherry orchard.

Apple Orchard

The apple orchard [pictured above] was not yet in production, but it is expected to come online by 2010. Our host named a half a dozen+ varieties that he was growing – all the best apples that grow in this part of the world. I’ll be interested to check out this orchard again in a couple of years.

Cherry Orchards

The cherry orchard was beautiful – with cherries just dripping off the young plants. There are at least five varieties that I remember – the Romance Series cherries that were recently developed at the University of Saskatchewan. They are just four years old now (I believe) and will be ready for the picking in about a week’s time through to autumn.

A Final Word

Although I’ve never yet picked a single berry at Prairie Perfect Orchards, I certainly plan to. If your looking for cherries in the central Alberta area, this is the place to go. And if you’ve never been to a upick farm before, this would be a great place to be introduced. Their pristine property feels more like a park than a farm and I feel they will only improve with time.

Want to Visit Prairie Perfect Orchards?

Here’s what you need to know:


From QE#2 take the Cottonwood Road exit (just south of Innisfail), travel west to RR#14, north 2 miles (3.3 kms.) to Twp. Road 354, west 1.8 kms. to the orchard on the north side of the road.


Cherries, Honeyberries (and soon apples…)


Not sure – I’ll update when I go pick cherries!

Other Info:

You can call (403) 227-1301 or email [email protected] for more information


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.