Asian pear trees produce good fruit all around state

BACKYARD Q&A

August 29, 1999

Q. I am crazy about Asian pears but I can hardly afford to buy them. Can I grow them in my back yard?

A. Yes, Asian pear trees seem to grow well in all parts of Maryland. You'll want to grow at least two different cultivars to ensure good pollination. Hosui and Olympic are two recommended varieties for Maryland.

Asian pear trees are vigorous and begin bearing fruit by the third year after planting. They tend to have fewer pest problems than peach or apple trees, but you'll need to prune and practice pest control to have successful harvests.

Q. I learned this summer that not all potting soils are created equally. I used a store-bought product that drained so poorly it destroyed the roots of some of my plants. What's the best kind of potting soil to buy? Should I make my own next year?

A. First, make sure that you have enough drainage holes in the bottoms of your containers. Second, the best potting soils have no soil in them. Instead, they contain peat moss, vermiculite and perlite. They hold moisture, drain well and produce good results with almost any type of plant.

Feel free to make your own potting soil. A good home-grown product should contain equal parts garden soil, compost and coarse "builders" sand.

Q. I keep telling my sister that I see honeybees in my garden, but she insists that's impossible unless I live near a beekeeper. Do some bees just look like honeybees?

A. There are dozens of bee species collecting pollen and nectar from garden plants in Maryland. Some of these do resemble the European honeybee, but it is very possible that you did see actual honeybees in your garden.

Honeybees escape from managed colonies and build new colonies on their own. Unfortunately, we've seen very few of these wild honeybees in recent years due to the negative effects of the varroa and tracheal mites on managed honeybees.

THIS WEEK'S CHECKLIST

1. Divide large plants of chives, garlic chives, parsley and thyme. Replant one-half and pot the other half to bring them indoors for the winter.

2. Pick pears as soon as the background fruit color turns from a dull green to a greenish yellow.

3. Leave wasp and hornet nests alone. Wasp activity will cease after the first fall frosts.

Garden tips are provided by the Home and Garden Information Center of the Cooperative Extension Service of the University of Maryland. For additional information on these questions, or if you have questions of your own, call the center's hot line at 800-342-2507, or visit its Web site at www.agnr.umd.edu/users/hgic.

Pub Date: 08/29/99

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