How to Grow an Orchard in Manitoba
You don’t have to look too hard to find a gorgeous vegetable garden in Steinbach. However, when it comes to fruit, our options are a little more limited. Unlike places further South where most of our fruit at the supermarket comes from, we have a limited number of hot days throughout the year. Without that heat, it’s pretty tough to grow things like pineapples, mangoes, and citrus. However, there are still plenty of fruit trees that thrive in our Manitoba climate while offering us delicious, world-class produce.
Where to Plant Fruit Trees
If you want to grow your own private little Manitoba orchard, placement is key. Fruit trees aren’t exactly a cinch to move!
Choose a spot in your yard, ideally behind a fence, that gets ample sun exposure. The fence is important both to keep pests — like rabbits and deer — away from your tree. It also protects trees from wind, which can knock fruit off the branch prematurely.
Apple Trees for Manitoba
With so many great hardy cultivars available, it’s no wonder Manitoba embraces the apple so much. Out in Morden, they celebrate them with the Morden Corn & Apple Festival. You can celebrate them right here in Steinbach with your very own apple trees!
Apple trees are beautiful and practical additions to your landscape. In the spring, long before harvest, the trees overflow with breathtaking, fragrant blossoms. By the late summer and fall, those pretty flowers will have grown into juicy, edible fruit.
For the best yield, you’re better off choosing two of these varieties to take home rather than just one. This is because each of these apples needs a second apple tree of a different variety for pollination. If you already have an apple or crabapple tree in your yard, that will do!
Norkent Apple Tree – This popular apple has a sweet flavour and crisp texture. The skin is light green with scarlet red stripes. A great choice for fresh eating, cooking, and baking. Hardy to zone 2b.
Parkland Apple Tree – These tasty apples are a fantastic all-purpose fruit. The apples are attractive with pale yellow-green skin and a red blush. Good for fresh eating, cooking, baking, and storing. Hardy to zone 2.
Goodland Apple Tree – While known to be a more high-maintenance tree, Goodland apples have some of the best flavour of all the hardy apples. They have green skin and a reddish blush that looks as amazing as they taste. Fresh eating is the best way to enjoy a Goodland, but they’re good for cooking as well. Hardy to zone 3a, Goodlands are a better fit for properties a little further west of Steinbach.
Fall Red Apple Tree – Like the Goodland apple, Fall Red has a great flavour and texture for fresh eating. The skin has more of a red colour than the Goodland. Fall Reds are great for fresh eating and cooking and are hardy to zone 2.
Other Fruit Trees for Manitoba
Are you not much of an apple person but love the idea of owning a fruit tree? Here are a few delicious alternatives from the prunus family. Like apples, these fruit trees offer a fabulous spring display and yummy fruit in the summer.
Westcot Apricot – If you’re in zone 3a, the Westcot apricot is a lovely fruit option that produces sweet, juicy fruit with a showy, peachy-orange colour. Eat them fresh or cook them into jams and jellies.
Cupid Cherry – A beautiful and hardy cherry, Cupid is a cultivar developed in Saskatchewan that performs in colder climates. A compact option, Cupid is actually a cherry shrub, reaching only about 8 feet in height. The fruit is dark red, juicy, and sweet with a mild, astringent quality. Hardy to zone 2a.
Caring for Fruit Trees
Once you take your tree home, proper care is vitally important to ensure the tree establishes properly and bears fruit as quickly as possible.
Prepare the soil by adding compost and removing all weeds from the area before you plant. Once the tree is planted (per the guidelines from our garden specialists), water the roots deeply. Keep soil moist consistently for the first full season of planting by watering 2-3 times per week. Using mulch can help the soil retain moisture and prevent weed competition.
After the first year, continue to water weekly to biweekly during the growing season until the tree is well-established.
Fertilize fruit trees with a 20-20-20 water-soluble fertilizer. Apply fertilizer immediately after watering for best results. Always follow the fertilizer package directions to find out how much to use and how often to apply.
Once your fruit tree is established, it’ll quickly become part of the family. There’s nothing better than picking fresh fruit with your kids or grandkids at the height of the season! Except, perhaps, serving a Thanksgiving pie made from the fruits of your little Manitoba orchard.