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William Hendershot

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since Mar 03, 2012
Northern Colorado 7,500' Zone 4
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Recent posts by William Hendershot

Shortly after I started this post (4 years ago) I bought a Korean Bush Cherry (Prunus Japonica) and it has been less than impressive. The plant hasn't grown much and it never even flowered. Maybe it's a dud or maybe it doesn't like the spot it was planted in, but I finally gave up and demoted the plant to the back corner of the yard. On the other hand, my Nanking Cherry (Prunus Tomentosa) has been prolific, so I guess I'll just stick with that.
5 months ago
Also looking for:

Broom Girl
Crown Bob
4 years ago
My Gooseberry obsession is now officially out of control. I'm looking for certain uncommon Gooseberry varieties not available through Raintree, One Green World, Burnt Ridge Nursery, Whitman Farms, or any other US nursery that I can find.

I would like to purchase or trade for cuttings or plants from any of the varieties below. Preferably looking for cuttings/plants that are still somewhat dormant. Anyone up north?

Gooseberry varieties I'm looking for:

Green Hansa
May Duke

Any info would be great.

4 years ago
If you haven't started apple trees from seed, here's a good demo. How to grown an apple tree from seed (hopefully that link works) I've had good results with starting apple seedlings in pots, but you want to make sure they're not in the pot so long that they get root bound. Otherwise you can start them in the ground, but it's a little harder to keep track of them, at least it is for me. By the way, if you're planning on germinating apple seeds this year, I would do that ASAP for this year's growing season.

Or if you don't want to start apples from seed you can always order rootstock from someone like Burnt Ridge Nursery.

After you have a bunch of apple seedlings ready to go, and they're about the thickness of pencil or a little less, then you're ready to graft. Now you need scion wood (cuttings) from apple trees that you think might do well in your environment. You can get scion wood from some orchards, you can ask for (or trade) scion wood from people on Permies and NAFEX (North American Fruit Explorers, Join their facebook page if you're on the FB), or you can cut your own scion wood from any local apple varieties in your area (with permission of course).

So when I say cultivars I mean apple varieties that you might buy in a store; Granny Smith, Red Delicious, etc. but in your case you'll want to find late blooming/early ripening varieties. I mostly work with a tree I found here in town. I think it's a "wild" apple but it's actually not bad tasting, and if it grows, blooms and fruits in this environment then you know you have a winner. This spring I'm also ordering scion wood from Masonville Orchards (near Loveland, CO). I'll be trying Wealthy, Pristine, Fameuse (snow), and Gravenstein, I would also like to try Redfree but Masonville Orchards doesn't have that available.

And if you're going to take your own scion wood from a local tree, do it ASAP (and it may already be too late in the Denver area) since you want to take cuttings while the tree is still dormant. If you want to try a local tree I found here in Estes I can send you some scion wood, but keep in mind it's not the high quality "dessert" apple that you might be used to.

Hopefully that answers your question and hopefully the answer wasn't too long winded!

4 years ago
Hi Tommy,

I live over by Estes Park so I think we have similar situations.

A couple things I've noticed on my land:

I wouldn't recommend cutting down the Aspen, as they seem to help retain what little moisture there is in this dry, high elevation environment. Plus, when you're getting new plants started in the ground the sun is so intense at these elevations that a lot of plants will just get scorched and dried out if they don't have some shade for protection. And it turns out Aspen has nice dappled shade which is great for allowing enough sun through, while not completely shading things out (This is assuming it's not a dense stand of Aspen that your working with, since that situation will have solid shade instead of dappled).

Since it's so dry around here, I haven't had much luck with hugulkulture. It just seems to dry out too fast. I think it would be a better idea to plant wood underground so it wouldn't dry out so fast, but that doesn't sound like a possibility with your shallow soil. I also like Tate's idea of cutting conifers down for brush piles on contour, especially for the long term.

Another idea for building soil is wood chips. If you have a tree service in the area, and if you don't live too far way, they're usually happy to dump tons of wood chips on your property. It's usually wood chips from conifers, but that's much better than no soil at all. Another option is to get a good wood chipper, and take down some of those coniferous trees on the property (which also helps with fire mitigation).

Some fruiting plant ideas that have worked well in this area: Seaberry, Buffaloberry, Goooseberry, Currants, Goji Berry (has done surprisingly well here), Goumi, Honeyberry, Alpine Strawberry, Aronia, and Saskatoon. Herbs inc. Thyme, Oregano, Mints, lemon Balm, Lavender, Sage, Chives, and French Tarragon. Covercrops/Nitrogen Fixers: Hairy Vetch, Birds Foot Trefoil, Lupine, and I've found Dutch White Clover can do ok in this environment if somewhat shaded and well established.

Fruit trees are doable but they take a little TLC. I agree with S Benji about starting fruit trees from seed. Once that seedling is one or two years old, then graft specific cultivars onto it. Fruit trees from seed tend to be stronger, more drought tolerant, and more well rooted than plants from nurseries. I would especially stay away from dwarf trees/rootstock. What your looking for are fruit trees that bloom late (to avoid late spring frosts), and that fruit early (to avoid early frosts). Although recently I've found the fall growing season to last longer and longer each year. I would try Apple and Apricot, and maybe Plum.

Once established (a couple years), I've found all of these plants to be pretty drought tolerant.

4 years ago

Ryan Skinner wrote:I am kinda in the same boat... I have been looking at honeyberries for their hardiness and early spring production. I think mixing those with blueberries and raspberries would give you nice spread out productions for spring summer and fall... although I have never tasted a honeyberry. I hear they are like wild blueberries... anyone tasted them?

Ryan- I have Honeyberry bushes and the fruit is tasty. I would a agree with the taste of wild blueberry. My Honeyberry bushes bloom earlier than any of the other plant I have, and the flowers tend to stand late spring frosts better than other plants. I like my Honeyberries but they seem to be shy bearing. I'm not sure if that's common or not.
4 years ago
Don't forget Saskatoon as well, AKA Juneberry or Serviceberry (amelanchier alnifolia). Delicious.
4 years ago
Gooseberries. I like them fresh out of hand, for Gooseberry pie, and for smoothies. You can get varieties that are sweet or tart, and anything in between.

Gooseberries are tough. They can handle sun and wind, and they're pretty drought tolerant once they're established. So they should be great for Wyoming Zone 5.

Gooseberries are relatively cheap to buy, and they propagate easily. I wouldn't necessarily recommend getting a potted gooseberry, but I would recommend buying a nice bare root Gooseberry plant from someone like Burnt Ridge Nursery. And once those plants are established, you can take cuttings and plant Gooseberry plants all over your property

4 years ago
I'm in Fort Lauderdale, FL. visiting the in-laws for a week. Is there anything good to see within a 1-2 hr drive? I'm less interested in veggies but I'd really like to see a place with local fruit. Anything from botanical gardens to backyard food forest. It amazes me that I haven't seen any fruiting trees or bushes yet.

4 years ago
You can grow all kinds of great stuff in Zone 4. Just think, people in zone 8 can't grow a lot of the things you can. So look a the bright side.

I'm Zone 4 @ 7,500' with 11 to 15 inches of rain annually (pretty dry). I have around 65-70 frost free days a year. I'm growing everything I can think of for my climate. Aronia, saskatoon, seaberry, gooseberry, buffalo berry, currant, Korean bush cherry, goji berry (which despite it's zone rating is doing just fine here), goumi berry, honey berry, blueberry, apple, pie cherry, etc. I also plan to buy hardy varieties of plum, apricot and hazelnuts. And if you're feeling lucky, try one the hardiest peach trees like Reliance. Why not give it a shot, you only live once.

You could also plant comfrey, horseradish, lemon balm, bee balm, wild arugula, asparagus, asparagus, asparagus, chives, strawberry, chinese perennial leak, rhubarb, lovage, all the mints, echinacea, sea kale, sage, french tarragon, etc, etc.

Nitrogen fixers/cover crops like lupine, hairy vetch, clovers, birds foot trefoil.

Once you investigate you'll realize you have lots of great choices.
5 years ago