Ed Worso, GCPL Director

A number of years ago, my wife and I had a desire to plant some fruit trees and we were specifically aiming at varieties indigenous to our part of the world. So we got a couple pear trees, a couple peach trees and a couple apple trees including a honeycrisp. These were all of the dwarf variety and we expected to have to wait up to five years before we could hope for a good harvest. In the end, as with so many things garden related in Northeast Ohio, it was a mixed bag. There was good, bad and ugly.

Meet Karl Wethers and his niece. Karl is responsible for complete honeycrisp destruction.

The good was that in just the second year, we had a bonanza of 13 wonderful honeycrisp apples with the promise of much more in the future. The bad was that the combined winters of 2013 and 2014 where the snow fell in November and never went away until April were terribly hard on them. Rabbits, desperate for anything to nibble on during the bleak February and March, gnawed away the bark on all the trees. And by 2015 they weren’t good for more than kindling for the wood stove. The ugly in our final scenario revolves around a goat named Karl Wethers. Karl got out of the barn one day and apparently made a bee line to the honeycrisp whereupon his considerable girth came into direct contact with a less than robust tree. He snapped it at the base, devoured the leaves and was run back to the barn by the livestock guardian dog. But the devastation was complete.

This wasn’t the first time goats got at our fruit tree attempts. We attempted several times to grow Pawpaw trees, a small native tree with delicious banana custard-like fruit. We had several whips that every time they got started, the goats would get out and eat them to the ground. They didn’t stand a chance either.

Behold! The pawpaw tree.

So lo and behold, when looking for our new home, we were amazed at the bounty we found! Not one, but two full-size pawpaw trees full of fruit that were just ripening when we took possession of the house. And that’s not the half of it. We have a half dozen varieties of apple trees including a Melrose (the official apple of Ohio), pears, peach, plum and even a persimmon tree as well as a Russian Quince tree right off the patio door. This particular year looks like it’s going to be a plum-crazy year as they used to say. So we are checking out books on keeping fruit trees.

What about you? Do you harvest fruit and can your own produce? I would love to hear your stories.