I have always thought of the pear as a forgotten fruit. You never really think about it most of the time. Many other fruits, such as apple, orange, cherry, peach or banana are all very common place around our kitchen tables. It is fairly common to have apple or cherry pie, banana pudding or just a plain orange as an afternoon or after dinner treat. The pear, however, seems to be hiding in the dark. I never had a pear cobbler or pear pie which actually sounds a little odd now that I mention it, but I have had pear cinnamon jam which is awesome. By the way, we will have a posting for that recipe in the future.
Now back to the subject at hand, the pear tree care post. We have recently planted a couple of pear trees at our home and are very anxious to get fruit this year, but it will probably be another year or two. Just like any other fruit tree, it may take a few years before any blossoms or fruit bear on the tree. Pear trees can take 5-7 years before you get your first blossoms for fruit, so be patient. Depending on your local climate, the pear tree type will be important to consider. Here in Middle Tennessee, I chose to use the Asian Pear and the Ayers Pear tree. We have some friends that have a fairly robust Asian Pear tree close to us which confirms that they do well around here. The fruit on the tree is juicy and sweet with a round shape like an apple which is one of the reasons why it's also called an apple pear. The tree can grow from 15 - 20 feet tall. The other tree is an Ayers Pear which does great throughout the southeast. They also grow to be fairly large and can top 30 feet tall! The medium sized fruit is sugary and even more sweet than the Asian Pear. Both trees are also partially self pollinating so you don't have to have another pear tree to cross pollinate. However, if you want a large production of fruit, it's best to have another tree to pollinate with. These two trees will typcially bear 15% fruit by themselves with no cross pollination, which is usually good enough for one household.
After you have selected your trees, follow the usual instructions provided for planting. As with all fruit trees, you don't want to have grass and weeds growing around the base, so be sure to mulch the area. It will also help to control weeds and retain moisture in the soil which is needed for any growing tree. If you have planted the tree in the spring, go ahead and use a fruit tree fertilzer to help with the first year establishment phase. If you have planted it in the fall and the tree is preparing to go dormant, you can wait and fertilize in the spring about 2 weeks before blooming. Once the tree begins to grow and blossom, make sure to keep an eye out for aphids, blister mites and caterpillars. If you begin to see these critters, or any sign of mildew or large areas of black spot on the leaves, be sure to stop by your local nursery and ask about the best organic control spray they have available. We use Bonide's Captain Jack's Deadbug Brew for the critters and Bonide's Copper Fungicide for the mildew and black spot.
The pear trees we have selected don't need much pruning either, but they do need some guidance. Pear trees tend to grow straight up in the air and stretch their branches to the heavens if you let them. You do not want this to happen since it creates very weak limbs that will break more easily when they do develop fruit. So, what is the solution? Well, you will need to train the branches to grow out instead of up! Just put some stakes aroud the tree and use string to stretch the branches back towards the ground. The best format would be to use the Christmas Tree look. The lower branches stick almost straight out and then taper back in as you go up. You want to have one main trunk that all the branches will spread from. However, since the Ayers Pear will grow very tall, we are going to have 2 main trunks for better stability.
I hope you decide to "bring the pears out of darkness" this year or next, and plant some trees at your home! If not, it's ok. We will have plenty more posts about all kinds of trees that may interest you more so than fruit trees. Join us on Friday, when we share our Recipe of the Week! Have a great day!