We thought it would be interesting to take the road less traveled with our orchard. And so began our quest for heirloom
fruit trees, apples, pears and plums. We scoured the country looking for just the right varieties. These heirloom
varieties were the favorites of our ancestors, revered for their unique and rich flavors as well as for their ability to naturally withstand pests and disease. Back then heirlooms were rejected for what seemed like solid reasoning at the time: They ripened at intervals, making supply unpredictable, grew to odd sizes that did not fit processing equipment, and were too tender to transport across the greater distances that food began to travel as production consolidated. The hybrids that supplanted the heirlooms were more suited to large-scale production and shipping, but often at the expense of flavor and nutrition.
At Indian Creek Orchard Gardens, we sell tree ripened fruit the day it is harvested, we don’t ship our fruit and we don’t process it either. So heirloom fruit make all kinds of sense for us.
To assist our heirloom fruit orchard in withstanding insect and disease pressures, we have taken a different tack at Indian Creek Orchard Gardens.To create as diverse an ecosystem as possible we have adopted a polyculture agroforestry approach to the orchard layout. Our orchard rows are intercropped with vegetables, berrys, grape vines and swaths of wild pasture. Within the rows we have mixed different varieties of apple, pear, plum and hazel trees. This makes our orchard more resilient to the onset of pest or disease due to the natural partitions that result from this layout. An apple disease or pest will have traverse 3 or 4 trees or cross several vegetable beds, before it finds another apple tree to infect. When problems do occur they are isolated and slow moving, giving us time to consider and react with an appropriate intervention.
This orchard layout also allows us to use our land more efficiently. Creating vertical layers allows a considerably denser planting than would otherwise be possible. And finally, the diversity that exists within this structure gives habitat to a much wider range of animal and insect life, much of it beneficial. Our orchard is also arranged by harvest date, with the earliest varieties ripening in the east and the late varieties ripening in the west. This allows for a systematic harvest within an otherwise somewhat chaotic scheme. At Indian Creek Orchard Gardens, you won’t see many of the varieties you see in the supermarket.
In our orchard you will find the following:
Akane, Ashmeads Kernal, Crimson Crisp, Cox’s Orange Pippin, Duchess, Empire, Esopus Spitzberg, Freedom, Galarina, Golden Russet, Honeygold, Kentish Filabasket, Lady, Liberty, Lodi, Macfree, Muskadette de Dieppe, Novamac, Primavera, Pristine, Red Astrachan, Red Gravenstein, Snow, Strawberry Pippin, Sweet Sixteen, Vista Bella, Wealthy, Williams Pride, Winesap, Winter Banana, Wolf River, , Yellow Transparent.
Doyenne de Comice, Golden Spice, Magness, Moonglow, Northbrite,
Plum Cultivars:Black Ice, Bluebyrd, Brooke Red, Gold Star, New York, Red Star, Superior, Toka, Yellow Egg
Aldima, Prarire Star, Sabrevoix, Somerset
Blackberrys, Black Currants (Titainia and Ben Sarek), Gooseberrys (Black Velvet, Captivator, Invicta, Pixwell and Poorman), Haskaps (Aurora, Borealis, Russian, Zouluska), Raspberrys (Black Jewel), Sasktoons (Honeywell, Smokey)
Asian Pear Cultivars:
We are sad to report that all 60 of our Asian pears have succumb to our harsh Canadian winters. We are currently looking for scionwood to top graft the rootstocks which are still very much alive. The moral of the story? Don’t believe everything you read in a nurseries catalogue. We have noticed some very optimistic hardiness zones cited for some varieties, that have not been born out by our experience.