Better Orchard

The goji berry is just one of the new fruit trees gracing Better Farm's orchard in 2013.
We have in the last several years made a few fruity forays in the gardens at Better Farm with blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, cantaloupes, and watermelon. Last year we upped the ante with two dwarf reliance peaches that can withstand -25° temperatures. This year, we're going all the way with a cacophany of fruit and nut trees that should begin producing in the next several years. We'll be able to can, dry, and of course eat and sell this produce fresh. Here's a rundown of what's going in the ground this year:

Better Farm's main garden. Orchard area will be outside the garden along Cottage Hill Road (area circled in green.)

  • Banana Plant (2)— The Dwarf Musa Banana is a fast-growing plant that grows 5-6' tall indoors and has big, shapely, leathery-looking leaves. It usually bears tasty, yellow 5" bananas within 2-3 years. No extra care needed. This plant is hardy outdoors in areas that do not encounter frosts. Otherwise, plant should be kept indoors during the winter.
  • Brown Turkey Fig (2)—These figs make for great eating, fresh or dried. The Brown Turkey variety is selected for winter hardiness and fruit quality. The hardiest variety known, it grows in New Hampshire, Northern Wisconsin, Iowa, and South Dakota. This tree must be covered before temperatures drop below 10°. Brown Turkey Figs are grown successfully here in Canandaigua. Plant 10 ft. apart or in tub. 1 1/2 to 2 ft. trees. Shipped spring only. Zones 5-9, self pollinating. 
  • Carpathian Walnut (2)Carpathians produce large crops that are easy to harvest. Trees start to bear from four to seven years after planting. An average crop for a 15-year old tree is about 3 to 4 bushels of shelled nuts. At maturity, the hull opens and the nuts fall to the ground. This planting stock comes from the Carpathian Mountain Highlands in Poland. Beautiful, dark-green tropical foliage. No roots near the surface. Grass grows right up to the trunk. The Carpathian Walnut grows in beautiful symmetrical form with strong sturdy limbs that won’t break from wind or ice. Fast-growing, cool, dense shade. Free from most diseases. Carpathians have survived 25-30° below zero with no dieback or winter injury. Carpathians grow fast. The first year while becoming established, growth is only medium. Once established they make as much as 4-5 ft. of new growth each year. They grow best on deep fertile clay, loam or sandy soils. Carpathian Walnuts Produce Large-Fine-Flavored Nuts Nuts are almost identical to California walnuts. Many are much larger and we think better flavored. The thin shelled nuts crack easily in halves and whole. Kernels have a delicious flavor, free from bitterness with an attractive light color. Zones 5-9. Plant two trees for proper pollination.
  • Chandler Blueberry (1)—Chandler has all of the qualities of what makes an exceptional blueberry. Delicious, sweet flavor makes the Chandler ideal for baking and eating fresh, the long ripening season that provides harvest from mid to late season. Ornamental plant is 4 to 5’ at maturity and hardy to approximately -10 to -15 degrees. Self-pollinating Chandler will also pollinate with your other favorite blueberry varieties. 1 to 1 1/2' vigorous plants. Zones 4-7 (Note: this plant will join our other three flourishing blueberry plants inside the garden.)
  • Dwarf Reliance Peach (2)—Plant breeders at the University of New Hampshire developed this peach tree, which can survive and produce delicious fruit after 25° below zero. Reliance is tops in quality—fruits are medium-to-large, round, with bright-red attractive cheeks splashed over a yellow skin. Reliance has a bright yellow, firm flesh that is honey sweet, fine-flavored and comes free from the pit. The stone will not cling, even in coldest, driest seasons. The pit is smaller than any other peach. Reliance fruit ripens with Golden Jubilee or about mid-August. Zones 4-8. Peaches are self-pollinating. Plant dwarf trees 10’ apart. Mature height 8-10’. 
  •  Goji Berry (1)Goji berries have one of the highest antioxidant values of any whole foods and can be eaten fresh, dried, or frozen. Delicious taste is like a blend of raspberry, cranberry and strawberry. Leaves can be eaten as a vegetable or used to make teas. Purple and white flowers start in May followed by berries in early fall. This vine grows more than 10' tall, but should be cut back to 5' in fall for better fruit production the following year. Self-fertile and drought resistant, but avoid acidic soil. pH should be 6.8 or higher. Plant in full to partial sun. Also known as Wolfberry or Matrimony Vine.
  • Kiwi Collection (2 females, 1 male)—This cold-hardy strain is a big improvement over the fuzzy, brown-skinned Kiwi. This rare kiwi is a much sweeter tasting fruit. Grows much further north than the regular kiwi. Fruits average about 3/4-1 1/2" in diameter. Tastes somewhat like a tangy combination of strawberries and pineapple. Fruit will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 months. The hardy Kiwi is somewhat similar to the grape vine, only much faster growing. Under ideal growing conditions it will grow up to 5" a dayand reach a height of 8' the very first year! It will quickly climb a trellis or wall. Its thick mass of bright green leaves will soon cover ugly service areas, stumps, even old buildings. Then in late May, lovely white, camellia-like flowers will appear to fill the air with a fragrant lily-of-the-valley scent.
  • Manchurian Apricot (2)In spring, dazzling pink snowflake blossoms pop out even before the leaves. In summer this tree produces an abundance of rich-flavored, red-cheeked apricots for eating fresh, canning and freezing. Self-pollinating but more fruitful when you plant with another variety.
  • Paw Paw Tree (3) The Paw Paw Tree is an ornamental tree that produces sweet, banana-flavored fruit. It grows to 30', has fragrant purple blooms and large, drooping leaves. Fleshy, oblong-shaped fruit makes unique-flavored pastries and breads. Paw Paw Tree fruit grows 3-5" long and weighs up to 8 oz. with 3-7 in a cluster. Sub-zero hardy and insect-free. Plant two trees for pollination.  

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.