This past summer I was truly blessed with something that I had completely forgotten about: pears. About 10 years ago I planted two pear trees, an oriental variety and Bartlett pear. They came as bare root stock, just looked like dried up sticks. I soaked them in a bucket of water, even forgot about them for about a week, but finally dug two holes about 15 feet apart in my back yard and planted them with the help of my five young children. I watered them diligently until cold weather arrived and the ground froze. My little sticks of trees grew at least 2-3 feet the first year. They shot up the next year as well. Year after year we got no buds as is normal for fruit trees. As a matter of fact, few people plant fruit trees because they, as did I for a long time, are not sure they will be there to enjoy the fruit of their labors (pun intended). One year we saw pear blossoms and I was so excited! Then we saw a handful of tiny pear-like fruits that never became anything.
I admit I knew nothing about growing fruit trees. I never once pruned those baby trees, to my shame. My second oldest son did help me prune the only surviving tree (yes, we lost the oriental pear tree) the year before, but I had no idea what I was doing. That one pruning, I suspect, is what triggered the amazing abundance of homegrown, organic pears last summer.
If I hadn’t stepped out and made that investment in those trees my family would not be enjoying organic, homegrown, homemade pear preserves this winter. We wouldn’t have enjoyed jar after jar of pear sauce or fresh, ripe pears in the boys lunches day after day (and they never once complained about those pears they were that good).
Most towns, cities, counties and states plant ornamental shrubs and trees. I challenge all of us to plant something that could provide food in the future, for those who come after, or if you are lucky as I was, for you to enjoy! If you own or rent a small patch of dirt, think about planting an heirloom variety of some kind of fruit-bearing tree or shrub. Water and fertilize that baby and know that one day you might make a difference between someone going hungry and having food to eat.
Here are some nurseries that sell heirloom fruit trees:
Let’s all plant something for our children and our children’s children and our communities.