Skip to content

Exploring the edible landscape of Gatchell

After recently moving to Gatchell, I've come to realize this neighbourhood is Sudbury's very own Garden of Eden. The yards in this area of town feature luscious gardens complete with hops and grapevine arbors and an abundance of hardy fruit trees.
Apple_Tree_gatchell_290
While the type of apple is an unknown variety, this tree will blossom and bear fruit in late summer and early fall.

After recently moving to Gatchell, I've come to realize this neighbourhood is Sudbury's very own Garden of Eden.

The yards in this area of town feature luscious gardens complete with hops and grapevine arbors and an abundance of hardy fruit trees.

Gatchell is nestled in a valley protected by Inco's slag piles from the north and the Big Nickel and Dynamic Earth from the west.

That means the cold north and west winds are blocked, allowing the area to bask in the sun's warmth, just like balmy Italy from where many of the residents  emigrated.

Leave it to the Italian residents to buy property in one of the most sheltered areas of the city. Apples, plums, grapes, and even figs (protected in winter of course), abound in this neighbourhood. The fruit trees and the lovely vegetable gardens are especially notable when you walk the alleyways behind the houses.

An apple tree, of unknown variety, grows in front of my house in Gatchell. While it was planted decades ago, according to my neighbours, the tree continues to bear loads of sweet tasty apples every year. In the back of the property is a gnarled cherry tree, which still bears the delicious fruit.

These trees survived the killer winter of 93/94.  I know that winter well, as most of my fruit trees planted at my former property just south of Sudbury simply perished or died back to just above the graft union.

Many were purchased from local nurseries that brought them up from southern Ontario.

I learned my lesson that year, as did Ron Lewis of Naughton who also lost some trees from warmer climates. Lewis has been selling hardy fruit trees for 25 years. He imports them from the prairies.

"Don't be disappointed by planting trees that are suited only for warmer climate zones. My trees were bred by prairie agricultural institutes especially for harsh growing conditions," said Lewis in his 2006 Fruit Tree and Giant Pumpkin catalogue.

Aside from the tasty treats produced, there is another reason for growing fruit trees. I enjoy nourishing heritage varieties -some originating far back in time.

Duchess of Oldenburg, originating from Russia in the 1600s, is one of the pioneer apples that came to North America via the Massachusetts Horticultural Society in 1835.

The Duchess is valued for its extreme hardiness and cooking abilities. The fruit is smallish (at least on my former tree) and is greenish yellow with red splashing. It also ripens early, a bonus in our short season.

The Duchess is also known to be a very disease-resistant apple, especially for apple scab, rust, fireblight and mildew.

Then there are the English russets, like Ashmead's Kernel, planted by Dr. Ashmead from Gloucester from seed (kernel) over 300 years ago and renowned for being very tasty. 

I found my tree was fussy regarding hardiness, so I grafted the Ashmead's on top of a Beautiful Arcade Russian rootstock apple, to give it more of a chance. That worked, and last fall I noticed it produced fruiting spurs.

Interested in being an edible landscaper? For advice, phone Lewis at 692-4592 or join my new green gardening and energy group, PECAN, at northernpecan@hotmail.com .