originalpinkmountain

Anyone grow and use seckel pears vs bartlett? vs. crabapple?

l pinkmountain
6 months ago
last modified: 6 months ago

The pandemic is causing me to rethink my landscaping. I'm more and more seeing light and photosynthesis as tangible assets and want to maximize their utility in my yard. Originally I had only some minor plans for adding some edible elements to my landscaping, but now I'm looking for additional sunny options and additional ideas of low maintenance edibles to grow in those spots. For example, the spot where I had considered growing a Juneberry/Amelanchier surrounded by blueberries, I'm thinking maybe just one pear tree. I'm choosing pear because the spot is in the middle of an area of the yard that gets wet, but only when it rains, it's not a continuously wet spot, just right in the middle of the roof drainage path. I read pears are one of the most water tolerant of the fruit trees. That and apple, but I live in the land of apple orchards so not as hep on that. I could go for a crab apple, but so far haven't been able to find a reliable source that has one in stock I want to buy. Same with pears really. I can get a bartlett easy peasy at the local lawn and garden, but not seckel, that I would have to special order.

Seckel appeals to me because it is a US native, and also maybe easier to grow? I worked at a place that had a seckel pear tree growing in the yard outside, it wasn't impressive as far as the yield, nor the pears, but I know they are for storing and cooking, not fresh eating. On the flip side, growing up our neighbor had an old barlett pear in her yard that she did nothing to, and some years there were more pears than anyone could possibly keep up with. It was not a nice looking tree however, to my taste. It was a full sized one, and where I am thinking of putting it, I only have room for a dwarf or semi-dwarf one.

Anyone have any personal experience with these pears who could shed some light on my pros and cons? How about in comparison to a crab apple. The big plus for me on the crabs is that this spot is close to the house and the crabs would possibly smell nice, I love apple blossom smell!

Comments (23)

  • bcskye
    6 months ago

    We had two seckel pear trees on the property we owned 35 years ago. We absolutely loved them fresh, so sweet. Unfortunately, I never tried preserving any so I really can't help you there. I would give anything to have them here.

    Madonna

  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)
    6 months ago

    A suspected hybrid between an Asian pear and a European pear, naturally occurring or not, can hardly be considered a native species :-) And even this notion is in some dispute as some have classified it as a just a small fruited version of a European pear (Pyrus communis) thought to have been left behind by early German or Dutch settlers. And it will require a second, different pear cultivar as a pollination partner. But very worth growing if you like pears, as it is delicious!!

    There are no species of pear that are native to North America

  • Olychick
    6 months ago
    last modified: 6 months ago

    I love Seckel pears and occasionally find them at the farmer's market in the fall. They are delicious fresh - so much so that I'd never use my precious find to cook with! But if I had a whole tree, I'd try preserving them. I also love Bartlett's, both fresh and canned and sauced and especially in pies. While I think crab apple trees are gorgeous, I don't think of the fruit as being as desirable or versatile as pears. I love crab apple jelly, but would never plant a tree just for a source of a good jelly. I've had crab applesauce and it's good, too, but not as good as the best applesauce (for me Gravenstein).

  • l pinkmountain
    Original Author
    6 months ago

    Thank you once again GG for pointing my rushed error. Yes, "wild" pears, Pyrus pyraster, are not the same as seckel pears, Pyrus communis. And the pear near my office was a "wild" pear, hence the hard bitter fruit that would have had to have been processed in some way to be edible. On the flip side, the hybrid seckel pear MIGHT have arisen as a hybrid between the European and Asian pear, attributed often to PA but that is in dispute as you so thankfully pointed out. It is the wild pear I was thinking of buying, Pyrus pyraster, or a barlett or some other European pear like seckel. But maybe seckel with its legendary PA roots would be fun too, since I lived for many years in PA.

  • annie1992
    6 months ago

    Oh yum, I LOVE Seckel, so tiny and yet so delicious. I planted one, along with a Moonglow and an Anjou, so that I'd get that 3 way cross pollination. Well, I actually planted three so that if one died, I'd still have two to cross pollinate! The Seckel is about 4 years old, the other two are 3 years old, and they don't bear very quickly, so I won't have pears for another couple of years, at least.

    I have canned Seckel and they were as good as any other variety I've used, but they are smaller than the traditional Bartless or Anjou, so it takes longer to peel and core them, that becomes kind of tedious.

    Annie

  • lindac92
    6 months ago

    Seckle pears are not self pollinating......bartlets are.

    How about a peach tree? Or an apricot tree?
    I love a certain kind of crab apple....can't remember the variety but the fruit is about as big as a plum or a kiwi and makes lovely pickled fruit and wonderful jelly.
    I have 2 serviceberrys and never have had any fruit on them....that I can see. Maybe the birds get them before I notice.

  • l pinkmountain
    Original Author
    6 months ago

    I'm sure the birds get the serviceberry. I have tasted them, they are usually like a watery blueberry, not impressive flavor. Of course those were wild ones I tasted. The serviceberry I bought was bred to be ornamental, so probably not that great taste.

    I already bought a peach tree this year for another spot. My choices are some type of pear or crab, due to the wetness of the soil. It is not water logged or constantly wet, but gets runoff from the house roof when it rains. It doesn't stay for days and days, but for some time until it drains or soaks in. I wouldn't call it a wet spot, but a spot that can get wet at times. Those were the two fruit trees I saw listed as tolerant of some wetness. Other than the Juneberry. Wild plums grow along streambanks I read, and I have already planted some of those along my property down by the river. They are clonal so not really good for close to the house, they form clumps which I don't want to fight against in the spot I'm thinking of.

    I've had Dolgo crabs, (ate some I found growing in a parking lot island) those were the ones I was thinking about planting. Very hardy. I can get good full size apples easy, so the crab would be a unique specialty crop. That's also the appeal of a seckel pear, you can get barletts and anjou quite easily around here. Another option I guess would be quince, many pears are grafted onto quince rootstock, but edible quince is even harder to find than edible crabapples. Especially this year when every edible plant nursery seems to be sold out. Hard to get under the best of times.

  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)
    6 months ago

    Bartlett pears are only partially self fertile. You wiil get much heavier and more consistent cropping if a second pear variety is available for cross pollination

  • party_music50
    6 months ago

    I'd love a Seckel tree! I haven't seen one growing around here since I was a kid. I planted Nova in 2010 and had a huge crop ripening last year and it all disappeared in one day. Had to be squirrels. Arghhhh.

  • carolb_w_fl_coastal_9b
    6 months ago

    Bartletts are my fave. The seckel pears I've had were always quite firm, while Bartletts are meltingly juicy.

  • l pinkmountain
    Original Author
    6 months ago
    last modified: 6 months ago

    Since it takes two for pears, I have another spot in the yard better for pears, and I could do both seckel and bartlett. I think I have decided to seek out a crab apple. I have been spending quite a bit of time out in that spot, and the idea of crabapple smell wafting into my back porch and hitting me as I enter the backyard to that spot is really appealing to me. I'm even contemplating putting a little arbor at the corner of my house and maybe have a rugosa rose grow up it on the other side opposite the tree. A little scented gateway to the back yard, if you will. Mom always wanted Blanc Double de Coubert and I have grown it before so I might be able to find one eventually for that spot. That side would not be a priority this year, but I do have the empty space for it now as I cut down the Brandford Pear that was overwhelming the spot and adding nothing since we couldn't even see it from anywhere inside the house and only a few spots outside and not spots we frequented. Now there is a fire pit next to the spot and we're using the path around the house more often.

  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)
    6 months ago

    Bartlett and Seckel are not compatible so will not serve to pollinate each other. Decide which one you like best and then pick a pollination partner that works with that variety.

  • sleevendog (5a NY 6aNYC NL CA)
    6 months ago

    Not necessarily what you are looking for...but having planted a dozen fruit trees oven the last 20 years, my by far biggest producer and favorite in the category are my two Asian pears. Self pollinating. (one each in two different locations). The one in the mountains produces buckets of fruit.

  • l pinkmountain
    Original Author
    6 months ago

    I wish I liked Asian pears. I don't dislike them, but I wouldn't chose to eat them. I tried to cultivate a taste for them. They are too much like apples to me.

  • Olychick
    6 months ago

    Asian pears almost always taste like raw potatoes to me.

  • annie1992
    6 months ago

    As naturegirl mentioned, Seckel and Bartlett will not pollinate each other, you need to decide which you would rather have. That's why I have Seckel, Moonglow and Anjou, because I really wanted the Seckel and had to have compatible pollinators.

    Annie


  • donna_in_sask
    6 months ago

    I recommend a Kerr crabapple. Makes great applesauce, apple butter, jelly and syrup. I just wash them and put in a large stockpot, stems and all...boil down with a bit of water and then press through a chinois. Sweeten with a bit of sugar and cinnamon and then freeze in ziploc bags once cooled.

    I tried growing pears but they never overwintered well. Amelanchier/serviceberry is also called saskatoons and they are wonderful, especially in pies and jams. The birds like them even more, so I'm not sure they are worth growing in an urban environment.

  • l pinkmountain
    Original Author
    6 months ago

    I had originally planned a serviceberry for the spot, only to attract birds that I could watch from my window. With one tree, the amount of edible product would be minimal. Same with anything really.

  • party_music50
    6 months ago

    I suggested Nova because it is self-fertile. I have one cherry (Evans), one peach (Reliance), and one pear (Nova) and they all produce a ton of fruit. That doesn't mean I necessarily get much of it -- that depends on how busy the squirrels are. lol! Here's a low branch on my Nova in spring 2018 and it was taken after thinning excess fruit.

  • carolb_w_fl_coastal_9b
    6 months ago

    I agree that if you have room for only 1 pear tree, you should consider a self fertile variety.

  • annie1992
    6 months ago

    L, I will also point out that pears take 4-7 years to bear fruit, so if you are in a hurry, pick something else. Crab apple only takes 2 - 5, as does apricot and some apricots are self fertile, so there's another choice for you.

    Annie

  • l pinkmountain
    Original Author
    6 months ago

    Actually Annie that makes me want to plant the tree even more now, better get going! But still not sure. Really should do Bartlett if I'm going to plant a pear, I really only have room for one, particularly if they are that slow to fruiting. Not sure it will be worth it, Bartlett pears are a dime a dozen in the stores. That space could be taken up by a sour cherry or an Italian prune . . .

    MEANWHILE, my plans have evolved! While searching for a mail order crab apple, I found out there is an heirloom apple called "James Grieve" which was my grandfather's name! So if I'm going to plant an apple tree, that would be the one! Have to wait until next spring, the nurseries are sold out for this year but they told me I could reserve one starting in July for next year. Won't be the end of the world to wait, I was mostly interested in the scent for an apple tree anyway.

    Meanwhile, I guess I need to get going with planting any other fruit trees. I've already purchased a redhaven peach tree to plant in honor of John Prine. I have room for two more fruit trees, although I am considering some bush cherries and bush plums for some other areas on the property's edge. Not this year though, those I would have to mail order. I also have one other area that I might consider experimenting with planting a quince tree or bush on, but that would need some tracking down. I've never seen fruits on the flowering quince shrub although I have read that they bear fruit. It's down by the road so not sure how much good fruit I would get out of it anyway, but it would make a stunning specimen when in bloom.

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