Cherries are one of the most popular fruits. Growing cherry trees is easy. Perhaps the biggest problem is keeping the birds from beating you to the harvest. It can also be difficult to bring in a bowl of cherries from the tree. People tend to eat these sweet delights as they walk from the tree toward the house.
Cherry trees can grow 20-30 feet tall, or more. They produce a profusion of blooms in early spring. Cherry blossom time is a cause for celebration in many areas of the country. The fruit matures early in the season and is harvested in late spring.
There are two basic types of cherries:
Sweet Cherries – The ones you eat fresh from your tree. Home gardeners prefer sweet cherries that they can eat fresh.
Sour Cherries – are commonly used in baking. Most sour cherry trees are grown in orchards by farmers.
If you don’t know the difference between sweet and sour cherries, taste a fresh one of each…..then you’ll know for certain!!!
Wood from cherry trees is hard. It makes excellent lumber for furniture. It also is good wood for your fireplace.
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Traverse, MI. claims to be the Cherry Capital of the World.
Cherry trees are grown from seeds. The pit, or seed, in the center of each cherry is capable of producing a tree. If you discard some cherry pits into a flower garden, you may find young seedlings growing there the following year.
Nowadays, most homeowners and gardeners buy young cherry trees from a garden store. The trees are usually 4′ to 8′ tall and gives you a few years head start towards your first crop.
You can also graft cherry branches onto other fruit trees.
Transplant young cherry tree saplings into your yard or garden in the spring or summer. Most likely, the container of the tree you purchased, is made of bio-degradable, heavy peat material. After planting, it will soften and break down in the moist soil, allowing the roots to easily penetrate it and grow. If the container is plastic or some other material, you will need to remove the roots from it during planting.
Dig a hole about three times as big and deeper than the root ball. Mix in plenty of rich compost into the hole, along with fresh, rich soil.
If it is in a peat container, cut slits in the container to speed up its decomposition, and to help the roots to emerge easier.
Plant the cherry tree to a depth equal to where it is in the container. Do not plant it deeper.
Fill in around the roots with a mixture of compost and soil. Tamp down the soil around the tree.
If planted in a windy area, stake the tree so it will grow straight.
Water well and deeply. Repeat deep watering frequently, to help new roots to grow and spread.
Ideal Soil pH: 6.0 – 7.5.
Both sour and sweet cherries are grown the same way. Once your cherry tree is established, it should grow well with little attention. Fruit tree fertilizer spikes for the first few years will help young trees to get off to a fast, healthy start.
Each spring, before buds open, apply a dormant oil fruit tree spray. This will kill a variety of insects. Apply a fruit tree spray frequently during the season, if you have problems with insects or disease. We strongly recommend you avoid spraying near harvest time. In all cases, follow the directions on the label for application and use.
The fruit ripens between late May to near the end of June, depending upon where you live. Make certain to beat the birds to the cherries. Harvest the fruit as soon as it is ripe.
Like other plants, pruning your cherry tree is healthy for it. This should be done by early spring, before the new year’s growth begins.
Prune the tree yearly, to remove dead or unhealthy branches and limbs. Also, prune in areas where growth is very bushy. This will increase sunlight and air penetration, to help the overall health and growth of the tree. You can also prune branches to maintain a shapely-looking tree.
Annual pruning will help keep your tree smaller and more manageable, too.
If you don’t work to keep birds from getting to your cherry tree, you stand to lose a serious portion of the harvest. Here are some methods that other home gardeners have used:
Pest Netting – Smaller trees can be wrapped in netting. It is very effective until the tree grows so big, that it becomes impractical to cover it.
Aluminum Pie tins on a string – it’s an old favorite. But, it can be irritating to you and the neighbors.
Noise Makers- Anything that is loud and sporadic will startle the birds.
Fake Predators – Plastic and blow-up owls and snakes