Fall is the best time to plant most tree seeds.
Many tree and perennial seeds have some amount of seed dormancy and naturally rely on winter to prepare them germination. When you fall plant outdoors in small garden beds or pots you can let seeds naturally stratify over the cold months, in contact with moisture and at cold temperatures chemical changes happen inside the seeds to overcome their dormancy and condition them to germinate in the spring at the exact time they're ready. The other method to stratify, or cold condition seeds to simulate those conditions in your fridge, which is also easy to do in a zip lock bag and some moist paper towel or other media like sand or peat. We do both here, in fact it's a good idea to try more than one method to find out what works the best for you. This fall we've been out collecting more local seeds from southern Manitoba and will update our inventory as they're available. Coming up are also a fun selection of heirloom tomato and pepper seeds.
We're very excited about our new selection of bare root trees and berry bushes going into this winter, we'll have 2-3x the selection we offered last year including plums, pears, apples, cherries, haskaps, currants, gooseberries, mulberries, buartnut, bur oak, hazel and many other new fruit cultivars. Our new catalog will be posted in early winter (Jan 1st 2024) with a selection of spring shipping dates. This year we built a hillside root cellar to overwinter our stock and this should make spring shipping much easier with more shipping dates as we can now pack your order earlier before the snow melts, and also keep our trees cold and dormant going into early may for later shipping dates. While we can ship seeds worldwide year round, our bare root trees are just available for spring shipping and for our customers inside of Canada.
A Small Nursery Startup on the Canadian Prairies
Oak Summit Nursery was founded in 2020 after years of interest in permaculture, grafting fruit trees and gardening. Gardening in our climate is tough, we only get a few months in the summer for vegetables and then you start over, but a fruit tree continues to grow and improve every year. After finally starting an orchard, which began to grow into a food forest, I soon made a goal to collect one of everything that can possibly grow here. Located in southern Manitoba, Canada in USDA zone 3 our nursery is nestled into an Aspen and Bur Oak forest on our 50 acre property. Growing trees takes some time and patience. What started in a few raised beds is about half an acre this year of beds full with tree seedlings and rooted cuttings. In our greenhouse we propagate many woody plant using softwood mist propagation, and in our beds we grow trees from locally collected seeds, hardwood cuttings, and by stooling/layering. This year our main feature is finally our grafted apple trees, which are a few years in the making. Our first collection of cultivar apples are some of the best cold hardy varieties, and maybe you haven't heard of them because you won't find them on the grocery store shelves. We have limited stock for this winter, sometimes just a few trees for one variety - so we're taking orders over the winter and we'll ship your trees any time from mid april to early may, right after the ground has thawed and the trees are still dormant, the perfect time for planting.
Apples Grafted Onto Saskatoon
A group of apple grafts done in spring of 2022 onto wild Saskatoon tree near the nursery. This year we've been experimenting with both Apple and Pear graft compatibility with excellent results. The real test will be how well they surive for the first few winters and to see how they well produce fruit. Our native Saskatoon has been used in field studies as a dwarfing rootstock for pear and apple.
We grow our own seedling apple root stocks from locally collected apple seeds. Our largest Malus baccata (Siberian Crab Apple) trees are 20 years old and large healthy trees - proven fully cold hardy to our cold winters. Every year we collect the seeds and start a new crop of apple root stocks. After a year or two they're large enough to graft on the named cultivar of apple, and we then we grow the grafted trees for one final year in the nursery.
One of the walking paths through the forest around our nursery. Mostly frequented by deer and our pet horses and donkey, this one is wide enough we can mow it through the summer. Many of the seeds we offer are collected along paths like this at the right time of year.