American creeping cherry (the second name of this culture is sand cherry (low micro cherry) - Besseya) was introduced to Russia at the end of the 19th century, but still has a very limited distribution area. Basically - in Siberia, but here, in the North-West, it is very rarely found among gardeners, although for a number of properties it deserves some attention and wider distribution, especially its selective forms.
The native land of Bessey cherry is North America, where it grows wild on sandy, rocky and saline soils. Botanically, it, like felt cherry, is closer to plum crops (cherry plum, plum, apricot), with most of which it crosses well and forms a variety of interspecific hybrids.
Besseya's cherry is a very early-growing crop and, unlike other cherries, begins to bear fruit in the second year after planting.
Growing sand cherry in the form of a highly branched bush with a stanza crown about one and a half meters high and a well-developed root system that is not afraid of droughts. The leaves are small, elliptical lanceolate, silvery-green in color.
Besseys cherry blossoms 1-2 weeks later than usual cherries by small white flowers, collected in an umbrella of 2-6 pieces. In general, during flowering, it is very decorative, all its branches are abundantly strewn with flowers, exuding a thick bird cherry aroma.
This cherry is also very beautiful during the ripening of the fruit. Almost from the cutting of each of the leaves, 3-6 dark purple, almost black berries fall. Under the weight of the bountiful harvest, the branches of Bessey's cherry lie on the ground and become easily accessible for harvesting.
Sandy cherries ripen in late August - early September and can be stored in a cool room for up to 7-10 days. Sandy cherries are juicy, with black pulp and an original tart bird cherry-nutmeg flavor.
Bessey cherries are very good in assorted compotes, jams and other preparations, to which they give a dark cherry color and an incomparable bouquet of smell and taste.
With its unpretentiousness to the soil, winter hardiness and ability to cross, the sand cherry has attracted the attention of breeders. So, in Novosibirsk M.A. Solomatov, on the basis of selection work, received a large number of selected forms of this cherry. At the Lisavenko All-Russian Research Institute of Horticulture in Siberia (VNIIS), the scientist created the Pyramidalnaya variety with sweet and sour yellow-green fruits of early ripening (late July - early August). Of interest is the bred by the famous Siberian breeder, honored agronomist of Russia I.L. Baikalov, the selected form of Bessey No. 5-10, which differs from ordinary sand cherries in larger black fruits and a pleasant sweet taste.
The Bessey cherry is also used in hybridization with other crops. So, T.G. Kozmin, from crossing this vichy with a felt cherry, received a number of interesting large-fruited and high-yielding varieties of felt cherry: Leto, Datinka, sandy felt. From crossing sand cherries with Japanese and other plums, a whole group of so-called plum cherry hybrids (Opata, Beta, Sapa). Attempts are being made to use Bessey cherries in programs for the breeding of highly winter-resistant apricots. In general, we can say that sand cherry is a very popular culture in the creation of intergeneric and interspecific hybrids.
For experienced gardeners who own the graft, American cherry may be of interest as a dwarf rootstock for felt cherries, plums, cherry plums, apricots and some other crops from the plum genus.
Planting sand cherries in autumn and spring, but in spring it is better to plant it after warming up the soil, and if you buy a seedling of Bessey cherry in a container (with a closed root system), then you can plant it throughout the summer. As already mentioned, this cherry is very unpretentious to the soil, but for better growth it is better to plant it on bulk mounds, especially if you have near groundwater.
As for all fruit crops, in our latitudes with a predominance of north and north-west winds, it will be very useful to create protection for it from the north side from cold winds either in the form of a vegetation backstage (planting tall trees or shrubs), or planting plants near the southern walls buildings (house, barn). As the name of cherries suggests, adding sand to the soil will not be superfluous.
Since the soils near St. Petersburg are mostly acidic, lime or dolomite flour must be added before planting, which, however, is desirable for other stone fruit crops. Well-rotted compost, 100-150 g of complete mineral fertilizer (Kemira-universal, Ekofoska), at least 200 g of wood ash are also introduced, you can also add 2-3 teaspoons of AVA and a handful of superphosphate directly under the root system for better development of the root system. It is categorically impossible to bring fresh manure into the planting hole, as this can cause the death of the seedling, and not only sand cherry, but also any other crop.
Since this culture is cross-pollinated, for cross-pollination and fruit setting, it is necessary to plant 2-3 seedlings of Bessey cherry, and you can additionally plant a seedling of a plum-cherry hybrid, which is very well pollinated with a sand cherry. It is necessary to plant bushes of this cherry at a distance of 2 to 5 meters between themselves.
So that the branches do not lie on the ground and do not break off from the severity of the harvest, it makes sense to knock down the contour around the bush to a height of 50-70 cm.
Further caring for Besseys cherries it is very traditional, as for most stone fruit crops, but you should not get carried away with nitrogen fertilizing, especially in the second half of summer, as this can cause rapid growth of shoots and poor maturation of wood, which will lead to a sharp decrease in the winter hardiness of the plant. In general, nitrogen fertilization should be given to fruit crops, and especially to stone fruits, only after they have entered into abundant fruiting or in the case of very weak development. If the plant develops well, has strong growths, then it is better to do without nitrogen fertilizers.
It is good to use for stone fruits, and for other crops, as a fertilizer, wood or plant ash, which contains calcium, potassium, phosphorus and various microelements that are well absorbed by plants. It is very useful to carry out 3-4 foliar dressings (spraying on the leaves) per season with fertilizers containing trace elements, such as Uniflor-micro, which, in addition to everything, increase the resistance of plants to pests and diseases, and also significantly increase their winter hardiness, especially if the last two sprays are carried out in mid-August and early September.
In the spring when pests, especially aphids, it is necessary to treat plants with appropriate preparations: Decis, Inta-Vir of double concentration (twice as much as indicated in the package) with the addition of 20 g of water-soluble complete fertilizer of the Kemira-Lux type per 10 liters of liquid. Such a combination of drugs and fertilizers in one solution significantly enhances the effect of insecticidal agents, and at the same time is a good feeding. Why do you need a double dose of insecticide? In order to reduce the cost of the finished drug, manufacturing firms use significantly less active ingredient than is required, especially since the latter is produced abroad and is very expensive. Experience has shown that a twofold increase in the concentration of insecticides significantly enhances the effect of the drug on pests and at the same time does not affect the environmental friendliness of products.
Besseus Cherry Pruning is as traditional as for ordinary stone fruit crops of a bushy form, and comes down to the removal of old poorly fruiting branches, as well as branches that strongly thicken the bush.
Sandy cherry reproduces cuttings and horizontal layering, but with root shoots, like most bush cherries, it does not multiply, since it does not form it, which excludes the rather exhausting work of removing the root shoots. You can, of course, propagate Bessey's cherries by sowing seeds, but for selected forms and varieties of such cherries, this method is hardly acceptable, since it is fraught with significant splitting of parental traits and unpredictability of the result. But for experienced gardeners, this method may turn out to be a good experiment, because it was by reseeding the seeds that the selected and green-fruited forms of sand cherries were obtained, another thing is how long it will take to achieve an acceptable result.
In general, I think that Bessey's cherry should take a certain place in the plots of St. Petersburg gardeners - as a fruit and ornamental crop with unpretentiousness and regular fruiting. This is especially true of its choice forms. As the six-year experience of growing Bessey's cherry on my site has shown, it bears fruit well even after it has fallen under the spring frost in its flowering state.
I. Barylnik, experienced gardener