There's never been any kind of grand plan as far as our garden goes. Instead, it has grown bed by bed, tree by tree and year by year. When we find a method that works, we simply do more of the same.
Sometimes our garden plans happen unexpectedly, like the time that I picked up a left over Minnie Royal cherry tree at the Valley Permaculture Alliance's yearly fruit tree day.
It was four years ago that the new cherry tree varieties were available for the first time in the Phoenix area. This was big news considering cherry trees only grow in cold climates with an adequate amount of chill hours. The Minnie Royal and its companion pollinator, the Royal Lee, are considered low chill cherry trees suitable to grow in USDA's plant hardiness zones 7 to 10a. The chill hours required for the Minnie Royal are 400 to 500 hours, which should make it a perfect choice for an urban orchard in the Phoenix area!
So, here we are four years later and only two cherries richer!
Our cherry trees are about five and a half feet tall. They have been given a light yearly pruning to keep them small and manageable. Shaded in the shadow of our large cottonwood tree, they receive slightly filtered sun. They are healthy and beautiful. But, so far fruitless...
This is my shout out to fellow orchard owners! Is it just me, is anyone else having any luck with the low chill cherry trees?
The only cherry that survived on this branch was the largest one. I am guessing that the rest were not properly pollinated and later dropped off. Maybe there were not enough chill hours, not enough water or too much water?
In the end, there were two cherries on each tree. One for me and one for grandson!
We watched and waited...
The blossoms and leaves are beautiful. The dark reddish brown bark is just what you think of when you think of cherry wood. The taste, texture and brilliant red color of the fruit was excellent (our cherries were ripe to pick in April). We like what we have seen so far. The two little cherries do give us hope for things to come, and we can imagine the possibilities!
But, where is the fruit?
In urban orchards where our space is limited, it's important to choose your fruit trees wisely and utilize every bit of production space for an abundant harvest. We've decided to give our Minnie Royal and Royal Lee another year of growth time while we do a little research.
Let us know how your low chill cherry trees are getting along, maybe we can share a cherry pie in the spring!