If you’re looking to enjoy some locally grown produce, be sure to visit the Assiniboine Food Security Alliance newly initiated Gardeners’ Market, where gardeners who grow and have surplus vegetables can sell them to the public. This market will be on Saturday mornings from 10:00 a.m. until 12:00 noon, located at the parking lot on the north side of Prairie Harvest Christian Life Centre. Only vegetables, fruit and cut flowers will be allowed for sale. The market will run until later in September.
And remember, the first meeting of the Yorkton and District Horticultural Society will be on Thursday, September 19 at 7:00 p.m. in the Sunshine Room at SIGN on North Street. Special guest speakers will be Joan Wilson and Paula Maier, talking to us about native plants. We hope you can be there! And remember that our Fall Plant and Bulb Sale is on Friday, September 20 at the Parkland Mall. Lots of great things happening!
Let’s sit for a minute for two and have some tea, and I’ll tell you about the amazing cherries that grow and thrive on the prairies. A dear friend recently invited us to come and pick cherries in his beautiful garden. What a sight to behold, that lovely tree laden with ruby-red fruit! The variety was “Carmine Jewel”, and the fruit was perhaps slightly smaller but every bit as luscious as cherries that you would find in the store. If you are as amazed as I was that fruit such as this could grow in our climate, the reason is these delightful cherries were developed right on the prairies, at the University of Saskatchewan.
Technically, “Carmine Jewel” and the “Evans” cherries are called “sour cherries”. Much research and effort went into the development of these cultivars. In 1985, Rick Sawatsky and Dr. Cecil Stushnoff at the U of S began working with crosses between the “Mongolian” cherry and the “North Star” cherry, a variety developed in Minnesota. “Carmine Jewel” was the result of their hard work. This wonderful cherry tree will reward the gardeners through the seasons: with bright white blossoms in the spring, and beautiful cherries later in the summer. Hardiness of the plants was not the only concern: fruit quality was very important, as well as ease of picking. On that sunny afternoon when we were picking cherries, we were able to reach most branches while standing on the ground: a very important consideration for gardeners.
“Carmine Jewel” and the “Evans” cherries are both hardy to zone 2. If you are considering adding one of these beauties to your landscape, keep in mind that they like full sun, but need some protection from winter wind. They like well-drained soil, and in the first two or three years we will have to water them regularly till they are well established. I also read that some fertilizer can be beneficial, but we have to be careful because too much of a good thing is a bad thing, and our cherry tree will end up with more leaves than fruit. “Carmine Jewel” and the “Evans” trees do not need other trees for pollinating. And as if there weren’t enough “pluses” in favor of these trees, there are very few pests or diseases that will bother them.
If you are landscaping your yard, or looking to add something very special, do consider “Carmine Jewel” or the “Evans” cherry. There is also the Romance series of cherries, including varieties named (what else?) “Romeo” and “Juliet”. We gardeners have the hard-working folks at the University of Saskatchewan to thank for these wonderful cultivars.
Did I mention that the cherries we picked made absolutely delicious jam? Thinking of it makes me want to make a piece of toast right now, spread on some of that jam, and have it with my tea!
Have a good week, gardeners, and even though it is late August, the sun is still very strong, so be sure to wear a hat!