Salmon Arm, British Columbia has a short growing season (not much more than 100 days) and comfortably mild summers. Its inland, inter-mountain locale in southern British Columbia finds it classified as Climate Zone 1A according to the "Sunset Western Garden Book." The limiting factor to growing fruit trees is their hardiness to winter cold as in Salmon Arm, the average annual low temperatures hover between 0 and 10 degrees F, although an extreme dip to -25 degrees F is possible.
Apple trees (Malus spp.) are among the most versatile and cold-hardy of plants for a home garden or small orchard. Although Salmon Arm isn't in northern British Columbia, relying upon trees proven to withstand the short and relatively cool growing season in the area diminishes maintenance and concern. Apples that ripen before the onset of fall frosts is necessary. The Ministry of Agriculture and Lands recommends Haralson, Honeycrisp and Sunnybrook apple tree varieties. Check for new hybrids and improved selections at nurseries. Crab apples also can be grown, but the smaller sized fruits are typically used to make preserves.
The most cold-hardy, fruit-bearing pear tree is the Chinese pear (Pyrus ussuriensis). It is more tolerant of urban air pollution or less-than-ideal garden soils, but can still have nutritional problems if the soil's pH is too alkaline. Chinese pears mature to a rounded shape, usually ripening only to a light shade of green with only a hint of yellow at best. The fruits are typically sweet and juicy and do not store long, so are best eaten fresh or canned. Selections of pears to grow in Salmon Arm include Golden Spice, Ure and Early Golden.
Also called tart or pie cherries, sour cherries (Prunus cerasifera) are easier to grow than sweet cherry trees. Sour cherries are more resilient to winter cold, don't need companion trees for pollination. They also bloom later in spring and usually avoid any untimely frosts that can kill blossoms and reduce fruit crops. North Star and Meteor are two sour cherry tree varieties recommended by the province's Ministry of Agriculture and Lands. Watch out for birds plucking fruits from your trees.
Plums (Prunus spp.) created by crossing the native North American wild plum with European and/or Asian plum trees yield a wide array of hybrid plums with exceptional winter cold hardiness and tasty fruits. Therefore, these hybrids are better than trying the sweeter and juicier European and Asian plum varieties in Salmon Arm. Three recommended varieties of plum for this area of British Columbia are Brookred, Tecumseh and Pembina. Plums, just like sour cherries, can be eaten by hungry birds.
Apricot trees (Prunus spp.) produce their pale pink flowers early in spring and typically planting more than one tree increases the set of fruit. Most apricots grown in the northern United States and Canada contain a genetic lineage of the Manchurian apricot tree (Prunus armeniaca var. mandshurica). Varieties Westcot, Scout, Prairie Gold and C-100 can be grown in British Columbia and tend to ripen their fuzzy golden yellow fruits in July or August.
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