Grow Your Own Pears

 Grow Pears

Grow Your Pears
grow Pears
Before deciding to grow your own  Pears I must point out that, unlike Apples , Pears are a long lived tree  some times more than a centaury old  and can become very large trees. Apples are always grafted onto a specific Root Stock , and in most cases this can determine the actual size that the tree will grow to, but with Pears they all have to be grafted onto one of two  Root Stocks, either Quince A which is the most common because of its strong root system and disease resistance  or Quince B which does produce a smaller tree but is only really suitable for Trained Cultivation, the subject of which we  which we will come to in a moment ; in short if you have a small garden or a limited space in which to grow your Pear tree then you will need to consider a trained trees of some kind  therefore you will need to enquire when you buy your tree, which Root Stock it has been grown on ; any reputable Nursery or Garden Centre will be able to give you this information.  If you have the space then I would suggest you start with a Half Standard . This is a 3- 4 year old tree shaped to form a branching head on a 120-150 cm tall stem.

Remember to stake the tree firmly when planting because Pears are very weighty in their heads and it will not  take much wind to knock them over. ( Please look up our section on correct tree and shrub planting ) The idea of a Half Standard is that it has most of it’s  head  in sunlight – which is most important – but it is still easily accessible for pruning, spraying and most importantly harvesting.

Pears will only grow successfully in a sunny and well sheltered position; they need the sun to ripen the fruit and will not tolerate exposed windy situations.

For the smaller garden it is much better to grow Pears on some form of trained  tree; the categories of these are: Cordon. Espalier . Fan Trained.

The Cordon Pear is basically a single stem tree with very truncated side shoots . Cordon trees are usually grown  at a slanted 45 degree angle and tied onto horizontal wires to keep them at this slant.

This method of growing is often used to create a screen or divider in a garden and can look very attractive when done correctly. Pruning is the key to trained fruit growing. You are attempting to produce as much fruit as you can from what is an artificially reduced tree. The method used to achieve this is called Spur Pruning . The plan  in the first instance is to make the shape of tree you require, whether it be Cordon, Espalier or Fan by allowing the early years growth of the tree to be fashioned into the required form. After this has happened the Spur Pruning can commence. You will see in late summer that at the base of each new shoot that has grown that year there will be a cluster of new buds ; these will be a mixture of fruiting buds and growth buds; the plan is to encourage the fruiting buds to develop. 

To do this you prune back the new growth to just above this cluster of buds, what will happen is the following Spring some of these bud will produce blossom and fruit and the remainder will produce new growth, the plan then is to prune back the new growth element and leave only the fruiting buds, so in effect stopping the tree getting any bigger and allowing it to put all it’s energies into producing fruit. This method of pruning applies to Espalier and Fan trained alike. Be warned that after a few years of the treatment the tree can become ’ over spurred ’ and you may have to leave some growing buds to form new truncated spurs.

Espalier Trees are usually grown against a wall or fence but can be grown on an open framework of horizontal wires. The tree is grown in virtually a two dimensional fashion with side branches fixed at 90 degree angles to wires at intervals of approximately 40 cm up the central stem on both sides and flat to the support with no other branches allowed to grow forwards or backwards . In terms of space saving this is very effective.

Fan Trained is very similar to Espalier except that the branches are not tied down at 90 degrees but are allowed to stretch naturally upwards .

Varieties of Pear are numerous and I am not going to expound on all of them, but I should like to recommend a certain number that I have had some success with.

Beth. A comparatively new variety and one that is custom made for the domestic garden. The yields are always good and the flesh is firm but melting with a real Pear flavour.

Conference. I know it is the Super Market favourite but it is very reliable and is also self fertile, which means you would only have to have one tree if that was all room allowed for. It is a very good variety to grow in the north of England or Scotland.

Doyenne du Comice. A tricky pear to grow , but if you have a warm sunny garden well sheltered from the wind and you want the best tasting pear there is then I strongly recommend that you ‘have a go‘.

Williams Bon Chrétien . Or just plain ’ Williams’ as it is more commonly known. This Pear is a very reliable cropper, especially for Northern gardens .

Some Varieties of Pears will require pollinators, though for most urban gardens you will find that there will be plenty of Pear trees in the neighbour hood that will do the job. If you find that you trees are not setting fruit as you think they should  then you may have to introduce a pollinator and the simplest way to do this is plant either of the afore mentioned recommended varieties and this should do the trick.

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