Do you have a pear tree in your garden? Are you interested in growing them?

We’re on a bit of a mission here at the farm to bring them back into fashion. When you get them right, they’re really delicious.

What’s so great about pears?

For a start, not much goes wrong with them. They’re a relatively bomb-proof tree in the garden as long as you keep the birds off.

They’re also a great tree for improving your food security by extending the fresh fruit season. Pears are one of the latest types of fruit to be harvested (along with some apples, which we talk about in this blog).

Plus, they really lend themselves to a wide range of cooking and preserving techniques. This pear and custard tart is one of our fave winter desserts.

Pear and custard tart - a perfect winter dessert
Pear and custard tart – a perfect winter dessert

Why pears became unpopular

However they tend to be one of the more ignored fruits, and there’s a couple of reasons why.

One is because it’s very hard to pick them at the right time so they will ripen properly. This is definitely easier with some varieties (including the various types of nashis) than others.

Beautiful Nijinkski nashi pears
Beautiful Nijinkski nashi pears

Many types of pears go floury if you let them ripen on the tree. This means they should be picked when they are mature (but not ripe) and then stored in a coolroom or fridge for a few weeks. You can then allow them to ripen at room temperature.

All those steps means there are quite a few variables you need to get right.

First, knowing when they are mature can be tricky. It’s about making sure that the seeds have gone completely dark brown and plump, and that the fruit has enough starch in it.

Secondly, you need to be patient and let the fruit stay in cold storage for long enough before you try to ripen them. Otherwise, they just won’t ripen. This is something we’ve got wrong many times ourselves in the past. In our eagerness to get them to market, we’ve often either picked too early or not left them in the coolroom long enough.

Pear blister mite
Pear blister mite

Looking after pear trees

Pears are relatively easy to grow. They can get a few problems, like Pear blister mite (above), Black spot (a common fungal disease) and of course the very common Pear and cherry slug.

None of those problems are too destructive or hard to control.

They’re usually very reliable trees. They thrive in conditions that other trees don’t like, such as soggy or frosty areas. It’s pretty easy to get them to crop well. 

Gorgeous corella pear blossom
Gorgeous corella pear blossom

Plus, they’re beautiful trees to have in the garden, with large glossy green leaves, beautiful white blossom, and a stunning autumn display. 

Clearly, we’re big fans of pears, which is why we’ve been steadily expanding the number of varieties we grow on the farm.

It also means we’re able to offer some unusual heritage varieties at Carr’s Organic Fruit Tree Nursery. One of our absolute faves is the much sought after (but hard to find) Lemon Bergamot. It’s a yellow pear that’s similar to a Packham, but with a delicious lemony taste.

If you’re tempted to plant a pear tree but don’t feel confident in how to grow them, take our short course Plump pears and quirky quinces. It includes lots of info about the pests and diseases that affect these fruits, how to prune them, and a bonus bundle of 5 tried-and-true pear and quince recipes.

Pear sculpture at the National Gallery in Canberra
Pear sculpture at the National Gallery in Canberra