Growing Cherries the Size of Apricots, or Not

Growing Cherries the Size of Apricots, or Not

handful of homegrown sweet cherries

I was feeling pretty smug about the several handfuls of fresh sweet cherries I had just plucked from my young orchard, when a friend dropped by to share the bounty of her trip to Eastern Washington–a veritable fruit basket of a region blessed by serious sun and abundant irrigation sources. Her gift, Rainier cherries the size of apricots, required three bites per cherry (and this from chops that have no trouble dispatching a sushi roll in one fell swoop).

giant size Rainier Cherry and small homegrown Rainier Cherry

The Rainier cherries on the left are from Eastern Washington while the ones on the right are Rainiers from my home orchard on Vashon Island in Western Washington. I marvel at the power of sun and water, how the same type of fruit can be so different based on where it’s grown and how it’s cared for. These big guys are grown for the export market, so they are surely more pampered than my backyard Bings–not a problem as I’ll take sweetness no matter how it’s packaged.

Van Sweet Cherries on the tree at tall clover farm

Van sweet cherries on the tree, a day or two from ripe

sweet cherries: Stella, Van, Rainier

My fresh-picked cherries clockwise going left: Rainier, Van and Stella

My sweet cherry trees are in their fifth year and doing admirably (as seen above). One particular variety, Early Burlat, has yet to produce a stone, but the tree looks quite healthy, so maybe next year. I guess it’s so early that it’s yet to have arrived. If you’re looking to grow a sweet cherry in a cooler climate, I had good luck with the varieties above and I just planted a Utah Giant cherry after reading some fine reviews of it as a taste test winner. My Montmorency sour cherries (and preferred pie filler) should be ready in a couple weeks–pies worth waiting for.

What I was blogging about a year ago: The Best Way to Ripen Peaches (and yes this really works).



16 thoughts on “Growing Cherries the Size of Apricots, or Not”

  • Orchard Miester – how long is the growing season there for cherries? I can’t get my tomatoes to grow that big. Believe it or not, the Texas tomato season is limited by the heat, 4 maybe 4.5 months tops.

  • Cherries here have a surprisingly short season. They bloom in April and fruit in early mid July. Now as for tomatoes, whole ‘nother story. Last year, I didn’t get my first slicer for a BLT until late September. This summer is nicer; we’ve been in the mid-70s regularly so I look for my first tomato harvest in late July, early August.

  • Tomato Slicer – I guess that’s normal compared to here. From seedlings grown indoors started in January,we plant outdoors in March. I plant in containers so that I can move the plants around to measure the sun exposure as the temperature and the sun climbs. My German hierlooms are starting to sizzle. Fried tomatoes on the vine, truly a southern phenomenon.

  • Oh, now you are killing me! As if the sunny Fourth weren’t enough, now you have a bounty of cherries. I have a North Star and a Montmorency that have yet to produce (going into the fourth summer), and my one local source for picking tells me he’s sold the entire crop to a brewery who insists on local. But what about us locals? Enjoy for us too, Tom.

  • Tom, the photography on your site is amazing. I have very fond memories of growing up in Oregon and picking, straight from the orchard, cherries, pears, plums and just about anything else.

    I now live in Alaska, home of the giant vegetables, but haven’t seen a cherry orchard yet. 🙂

    Keep up the great work on your site.

  • (sarpik06@gmail.com)

    We prune the fast growing 4 1/2 yrs old cherry trees yearly : Bing, Rainiers & Stella. No fruit or flower in all, should we remove one of them to give more space due to small backyard space. Please help.

    Rose

  • Linda, I’m fresh out, thanks to the robins and my crazed ambition to actually secure enough for some pies. If you’re on Vashon this Saturday, try the farmers market on the village green 10am-3pm. You may find some there, but we’re nearing the end of the season. Good Luck, and here’s to next year’s crop and bird netting.

  • Tom you are an Inspiration !! I live in New York City I recently traveled to Bethel NY and got to see all the farms so amazing and marvelously simplistic .No hustle and bustle I’m considering leaving the big city in the next few years !

  • Hi Tom. Great looking cherries! Here in NW
    Indiana, I often feel lucky to get a dozen ripe,
    unsplit sweet cherries. I tent the cherries with colored plastic to hide them from birds, and retard splitting. (Close the ends, but keep the bottom open!) This helps somewhat.
    (I have a three in one tree (nine years old), a smaller Stella, and a Ranier on order from Grandpa’s Fruit Trees, Coloma, Mi.) Can’t wait
    to try again this spring!

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