As an urban farmer I have to be very conscious of the limits of my property. Part of my goal this year has been to extend my harvest season and to introduce more fruit trees to the Bossy Hen Homestead. In an effort to honor this goal my family planted two dwarf pear trees on my sons birthday.
Pears are a wonderful tree to grow. They are hardy from zones 3 to 10 depending on the variety you choose. This year we planted a Bartlett and a Karl's Favorite in order to increase the chances of pollination by offering our local bees more than one variety of pear to scamper on.
When planting keep in mind that healthy soil means healthy plants. We composted rabbit manure in the area where we had decided to grow our trees for a few months to prepare the soil. If possible you will want to make sure that you establish your trees in a sunny location and space them approximately 10-12' apart. When fully grown your dwarf pear can reach heights of 8-15' depending on which variety you decide upon. The rule of thumb is that you can look forward to 1 to 3 bushels of fruit in return for your investment each year.
Some things to consider when choosing to grow fruit trees is that standard varieties may take longer to mature and produce fruit but they also tend to live much longer than the dwarf and semi-dwarf variety. They also rarely need staking as do some dwarf trees. The obvious benefit to the little guys is that they are perfect for the homesteader with limited space or for those that want to see a return for their investment at a much quicker rate.
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By planting trees on your property you are not only creating a source of fresh fruit but are providing habitat for birds and other beneficial creatures as well as creating a natural wind block for your home and providing a shady location to relax under during the peak heat of summer.
Tobias Whitaker blogs for Mother Earth News and Grit Magazine. You can also find him on Facebook at Seed To Harvest: Bossy Hen Homestead. Last, but certainly not least, you can also find his work at Tobias Alan Whitaker.