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Vermont Garden Journal: Growing Asian Pears In Cold Climates

Andrew Teman
Asian pears are treasured for their crisp, juicy texture and complex fruity taste, sometimes with hints of butterscotch. Best of all, they grow in our cold climate.

These fruits have been grown for more than 3000 years in Japan and China. Although they share a name with a similar European fruit, they present themselves totally differently. They are round, crisp textured, and juicy. We call them Asian pears.

Asian pears are also known as “apple pears” because many are round shaped, but they’re not a hybrid of a pear and apple. They’re in another branch of the pear family that has been cherished in Asian for centuries. You’ll often see them individually wrapped in grocery stores like a prized jewel for good reason. Asian pears are treasured for their crisp, juicy texture and complex fruity taste, sometimes with hints of butterscotch.

Best of all, they grow in our climate. Most Asian pears are hardy to zone 5. I’ve been growing ‘Chojuro’ and ‘Shinseiki’ Asian pears for 4 years with good success. They survive our cold winters and fruit consistently each year. They need well-drained soil, full sun and at least two varieties to get the best production. But unlike European pears, Asian pears only grow about 15 feet tall, so they’re more manageable in the landscape. I chose my varieties mostly for their fireblight disease resistance. I’d rather not spray, so buying resistant varieties is a good way to insure the tree survives.

Once growing, they fruit consistently. The fruits have yellow or brown textured skin, with an ivory colored flesh. Harvest Asian pears while the fruit is still firm. When ripe, the fruits will easily pull off the tree. Fruits that require a yank are probably not ripe yet.

And now for this week's tip, save herb seeds such as dill, fennel and coriander now for winter eating. When the seed heads are mature, yet haven’t started to fully dry, snip them off the plant and hang them upside down in an airy, room out of direct sunlight. Place a brown paper bag around the seed heads to catch the seeds as the dry. Store the seeds in glass jars.

Next week on the Vermont Garden Journal, I'll be talking about ground cherries. Until then, I'll be seeing you in the garden.


Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden writer, radio and TV show host, consultant, and speaker. Charlie is the host of All Things Gardening on Sunday mornings at 9:35 during Weekend Edition on Vermont Public. Charlie is a guest on Vermont Public's Vermont Edition during the growing season. He also offers garden tips on local television and is a frequent guest on national programs.
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