This is a journal of my vegetable gardens. Skippy was my first dog and he thought the garden was his, even though I did all the work. Now Suzie and Charley follow in his footsteps. We're located near Boston (USDA zone 6A). I have a community plot, a backyard vegetable garden, fruit trees, berry bushes, chickens, and bees. I use sustainable organic methods and do my best to grow all of my family's vegetables myself.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

pears - a bumper crop this year

I'm reviewing each of my crops this year. Here's the story on my my pears.

I have two espaliered trees, a Bartlett and an Kieffer at my community garden plot, about 5-7 years old now.

April 13, I sprayed with 2% horticultural oil at the swollen bud stage. I meant to spray again between green cluster and white bud, but forgot. (Spraying is done to control psylla, mites and scale.) I didn't see the trees in bloom this year, but was told they were spectacular.

I fertilized early in the year with fruit tree spikes, 3 per tree, since the leaves looked a bit yellow. They greened up nicely.

Fruit set in abundance on both trees. Last year I remember I counted 75 pears. This year I did not even try to count. I didn't thin or cover the fruit. The leaves developed spots mid-season. Scab? As they ripened, pears became mottled with something on the surface. Some Kieffer's were misshaped with dimples or larger divots that were stony at the base. I don't know the cause either of these.

2015-08-08 pears IMG_2634
2015-08-25 pears IMG_2807 (2) 2015-08-25 pears IMG_2807

August 25, I harvested about 30 lbs of fruit - all the Bartlett and half of the Kieffer's. August 31, I harvested the rest, about 20 lbs. 

2015-08-25 pears IMG_2810 2015-08-31 harvest pears IMG_2885

I put all fruit in the refrigerator. It's a small one with poor temp control. I tried to set it for 32, but ended up freezing about 30-40% of the fruit. The fruit that didn't freeze all ripened up really nicely. I left Bartlett's in fridge about 2 weeks, took about 3-4 days to ripen. Kieffer's were in fridge either 2 or 3 weeks and took about a week to ripen. They were sweeter with longer cold treatment.

2015-10-03 pears IMG_4149

Since I still have last years canned pears left over, I made different other items this year.
- Canned pear sauce (just like apple sauce, but pears - delicious)
- Frozen pears, I tried both dry and syrup methods (haven't tried any yet)
- Dried pears, both plain and syrup methods (we love both of these!)

2015-10-05 pears IMG_4272 2015-10-06 frozen pears IMG_4270

The Bartlett has several areas where branches don't look good and have lost leaves early this fall.

For next year,
- Apply both recommended applications of horticultural oil on the trees in spring
- If the trees set another big harvest, I'll thin to one pear per cluster, 6 inches between fruits about 30-45 days after full bloom when fruits are 1/2 to 1 inch diameter
- Get a new fridge with better temperature control
- Make dried pears again, try using a very light syrup

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Anonymous Alex said...

Why do you harvest the fruit before it is ripe and then put in the fridge to ripen? Just for the sweetness?

Our neighbors have a large pear tree, but have no clue about it, and ask us (the friendly gardeners next door) what to do. Unfortunately, I have no experience with pears and have no advice to give. My guess is that it's a keiffer, since we live on an old farm and it's probably a remnant - there are no other pear trees around that I am aware of.

I'd love to tell them what to do with the pears - since they have no idea, they have done nothing, not even harvesting even though we are probably a month or more past harvest time (the pears are hard and not that great eating out-of-hand, but seem fairly sweet). Is picking and storing in a fridge standard procedure?

October 26, 2015 11:21 AM

Blogger Mike the Gardener said...

That's awesome! I was thinking of adding a pear tree to the property .. right now I have peaches and apples.

October 28, 2015 8:43 AM

Blogger kathy said...

I finally getting used to pears. This is my third harvest. Pears can be left to ripen on the tree but they will tend to have a mealy consistency to the flesh. Also,they will tend to ripen from the inside out. So a tree ripe pear that looks nicely ripe will be mealy and starting to rot inside. However if you pick the pear sooner, just when the fruit releases when the stem is bent 45 degrees, and then chill the pear for a week or so at 32-35 degrees, it will ripen more evenly. And flesh will be smooth. The longer you store in the cold, the sweeter the fruit. I week cold is fine for Bartlett , which are very sweet anyway. 2-3 weeks or more is nice for Kieffer. Chill the fruit as cold as you can without freezing them and they last longer in fridge without ripening. Higher temp in fridge and the ripen in fridge. Good luck. It takes takes sone experimenting with your fridge and your pears.

October 31, 2015 5:50 AM


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