Friday, May 7, 2010

Growing Pear Trees from Seed

Yes, call me crazy I started some pear trees from seed. What I did is, I ate a whole lot of pears last winter from multiple different varieties. I put the seeds on a moist napkin or paper towel in a sealable sandwich bag in the fridge for about a month. Once the radicle emerged from a seed and started to grow I planted it into a small pot. I planted them by the hundreds and then covered the pot with a clear plastic bag to make it really wet to help breed disease. I also placed the pot in a cold window, so that the dampness would be sure to help the spread of disease. Sure enough fireblight took off in the seedlings. Hundreds of them died off en masse. I kept planting any that sprouted in the fridge in the same pot where others had died in the disease laden environment. Sure enough a few of them continued to grow and seem to be immune to fireblight as well as whatever other diseases that did the rest in. Here is a picture of the survivors in a much bigger pot. Notice that two of them are purple leaved.

I was interested in doing this project after reading about how fruit trees are actually hardier and more disease resistant on their own roots instead of being grafted. I read about it in Gene Logsdon's book, Organic Orcharding. I'm thinking of planting them out to see if they will produce decent canning or eating pears. I think that I have a pretty good shot at decent tasting pears because the ones I ate were pretty good in the first place, although I do hear that they are more variable than their parents. Anyway, if they don't turn out to taste good at least I'll have some great rootstock to graft better tasting pears. I've read that if you are worried that they won't taste good and don't want to loose time, then you can let one branch grow and let a grafted branch grow. If the fruite on the tree tastes good, then cut off the grafted wood. If the fruits tastes bad, then your graft is already growing and you can cut off the ungrafted branches.

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