Leonard Moorehead, The Urban Gardener: Peerless Pears
Saturday, May 16, 2015
Large flower pots are a fine beginning. It’s much easier to provide first class soil for potted plants than a large garden space. The essential elements remain the same. Value in scale is the great advantage here. Lots of humus, good drainage, a quarter turn at each watering for even growth and we have thriving plants. Alas, there are also disadvantages. Constant attention to the watering needs is a major requirement. Accidents happen in the world. With all the garden eggs in one basket, a few days away during warm weather can wipe out months of care. Infestations of milky spore disease, common enough, can hold the advantage over your smaller number of plants. But let’s look a bit further.
Container gardening is a noble pursuit. The triumph of hope inspires. Many urban gardeners take to the roofs. Acres of asphalt radiate sunshine in shimmering waves of heat. Ingenuity enters the fray. Years of recession have re-taught frugality. Fruit crates, plastic buckets, old shipping pallets are nailed together or artfully arranged. Rainwater is collected and distributed to the plants. Green becomes the colonist where once a desert was the rule. Given strict perimeters urban gardeners become ever more creative. One tool to employ beyond the usual nuts and bolts of good soil, nutrition and water is plant choice.
Do grow miniature varieties of favorite plants. Long for fresh summer squash? Grow bush varieties in bushel baskets. Their upright habit and heavy yield are advantages. Bushel baskets are often free for the taking. Baskets are often found at yard sales for very little money. Line your baskets with brown paper bags. Done with attention to detail and loving care, the paper is virtually invisible. It provides a gentle barrier to water run-off, restrains soil from erosion, and protects wicker. Why pay money to reach a gardening goal when a bit of creativity surpasses anything manufactured and ground out by the thousands. Each garden is the gardener’s signature, make your garden truly yours.
Dwarf varieties of fruit trees are readily available. Standard fruit trees harken to a rural America where miles stretched between houses. Happily, we now have miniature fruit trees with all the merits of the standard ancestral varieties except size. I have very good luck with dwarf fruit trees in my city side lot. You can too.
At first I didn’t recognize Asian pears in the produce section. They were wrapped individually in protective Styrofoam sleeves. Looking more like large brown apples, the price kept me from tasting. Pears have famously long shelf lives and I thought, later, later.
No longer; my friends. Dwarf Asian pears are ideal for the urban garden. Just barely six feet tall and about that in circumference, they are a lovely small tree covered in beautiful white flowers in May. Bumblebees visit them. I borrow a brush from a little used water color paint kit and gently dust pollen from pistol to stamen. The large blooms have few secrets, the golden pollen is within reach and sight. This is not a task for frenzy. Relax, pay attention to the blooms, the mystery of flowers and the purpose of fruit. All primates seek sweetness in fruit and urban gardeners are true to millennia of adaption.
Pears are an old world plant. They were among the first cargos to New England, indeed the famous Dedham Pear is reputed to have been planted in 1640. Our colonial ancestors grew pears for fresh eating and more often, like apples, it wasn’t the fresh fruit the farmers sought but the fortifying beverages made from the pressed fruit. All of us are familiar with cider, the fresh pressing of apples and humorously, the quick transition to “hard” cider before its final resolution as vinegar. All stages are chock full of nutrients. Many people continue to sip a glass of watered apple vinegar each day as a nostrum for all that ails. Why not? Vinegar remains a healthy mixture of beneficial miro-biological cultures. Pears yield a beverage named perry, not so incidentally, an old family name in English.
Dwarf pear stock arrives as nothing so much more than a longish stick with two or three cut branches at one end and very simple bare roots. Soak the roots immediately upon receipt for a few hours or even overnight but not longer, roots need air to survive as well as water. While soaking prepare a “$100 hole for a $10 tree”. Fruit trees need all the sunshine possible and prefer a well- ventilated but protected situation. It’s a sorry sight indeed to see newly planted fruit trees whipped about by gale winds in late summer. Their new roots are torn, wrested from the soil and fail to provide the needs demanded by the incumbent summer foliage. Stake your saplings to prevent stressful movement.
I dust virtually all transplants with rootone, an affordable root promoting hormone. I also plant transplants in soil rich in bonemeal. Bonemeal provides important nutrients for root growth. I’m happy to report that none of my dwarf fruit trees have failed. All flourish in their urban environment. The care and attention given when planted are certain to produce good results for you too.
Plant dwarf fruit trees in large pots or in those sunny spots that offer just enough room. Plant two for better cross- pollination, however pears are self- fertile. Pears are perfect for urban gardeners. Indeed, pears are peerless.
This article originally ran on 5-17-14
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Providence Power Yoga
Providence Power Yoga is the perfect place to get your daily dose of calm, whether you are just beginning the exploration of yoga or have been reaping its benefits for years. Try Revive and Restore for the ultimate class in revitalization and relaxation. If you’re a music lover, Chillwave Solar Flow is your go-to class, complete with fun electronic indie music and heated power-yoga.
51 Bassett Street, Providence, RI. (401) 273-3500.
Bristol Yoga Studio
If you are a yoga beginner or are experiencing the body changes that come with pregnancy, Bristol Yoga Studio is the place to go. Beginners will benefit from Kripalu Yoga, a mixed-level class that emphasizes wholeness, meditation, and balance. Pre-natal yoga will teach breathing techniques, body awareness, and more that will help both in labor and after you have had your child.
13 State Street, Bristol, RI. (401) 569-0147.
Boiler House Bikram Yoga
Boiler House Bikram Yoga in Providence is the place to be for all things Bikram Yoga. Bikram Yoga is a yoga practice that incorporates 26 traditional Hatha Yoga poses and 2 breathing exercises in a hot room. The benefits of Bikram Yoga include detoxification, increased libido, reduced stress, and so much more. Try it out for yourself; we did!
166 Valley Street, Providence, RI. (401) 383-3840.
Yoga Loft RI
Beginners can’t go wrong with Yoga Loft RI in Warren. Try out Yin Restorative Yoga to bring balance to your life, Sunday Morning Yoga for a healthy and rejuvenating start to your week, or Beginners Belly Dance for a fun and creative experience. If you’ve got little ones, sign them up for the Kid’s Yoga Club!
16 Cutler Street, Warren, RI. (401) 245-0881.
Santosha Yoga Studio
Santosha Yoga Studio & Holistic Center offers so much more than yoga. Enjoy complementary wellness consultations to learn the right path for you to take at the center. Explore acupuncture, therapeutic massage, organic facials, and other great holistic services at the center. If you or someone you know are a survivor of cancer, be sure to check out special classes geared towards survivors.
14 Bartlett Avenue, Cranston, RI. (401) 780-9809.
Eyes of the World
Saturday, January 18 from 12:30-2:30 pm, start your yoga journey at Eyes of the World Yoga Center in Providence. For only $18 with early registration, try out a two-hour beginner’s workshop that will show you everything that the center has to offer. Learn the basics of yoga posture, focus, contentment, and humility. Another unique feature of Eyes is free yoga for veterans that suffer from PTSD—visit their website to see how you can help.
1 Park Row, Providence, RI. (401) 295-5002.
Breathing Time Yoga
Breathing Time Yoga in Pawtucket is out to prove to the world that yoga is beneficial to everyone, regardless of weight, age, sex, or ability. This is made evident with their Yoga for Curvy Women class—awesome! Other unique classes and workshops include Stress Less for Teens, Mom & Baby Yoga, Mindful Eating and more! Take a trip to the studio to find a class that’s right for you.
541 Pawtucket Avenue, Pawtucket, RI. (401) 421-9876.
The Heron Studio
The Heron Studio in nearby Fall River incorporates yoga, meditation and dance into their studio culture. Yoga is taught on three levels: introductory for beginners, intermediate to broaden understanding and goals in the practice of yoga, and advanced for students who wish to bring yoga off the cushion and into their daily lives. Several dance classes are taught that embrace community, fitness, strength, and well being.
187 Plymouth Avenue, Fall River, MA. (774) 365-4016.
Check out Shri Studio in Pawtucket for a mindful and relaxing yoga experience. Highlights of their extensive class list include Yoga for Seniors, Gentle Yoga (free for followers of the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Center, plus one guest!), and Forrest Yoga—designed to address physical and emotional stresses that may be stored within the body.
21 Broad Street, Pawtucket, RI. (401) 441-8600.
Next Tuesday, January 14 at 6:30 pm, visit Serenity Yoga in Warwick for a $10 drop-in yoga session. The class will incorporate a half-hour of yoga practice and a half-hour of guided meditation—the perfect remedy for your hectic week. While you’re in, make sure to check out all of the classes that the center offers.
21 College Hill Road, Warwick, RI. (401) 615-3433.
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