Red color of this tasty treat comes from the powerful antioxidants known as anthocyanins. Cherries packed with free radical destroyers; almost as many as blueberries. Help with pain of inflammatory conditions like arthritis and muscle soreness. Linked with heart benefits by reducing inflammation and total cholesterol, and lowering body fat and total weight. Low in fat, high in water content and helps boost metabolism. One of only a few foods with melatonin. (Produced in pineal gland and associated with sleep rhythms. Cherries may help you get to sleep.) The high potassium content also can help control blood pressure and maintain proper muscle and nerve cell functioning.
Vitamin and Mineral Content
Vitamins – A, C, B2 (Riboflavin), B6 (Pyridoxine), B9 (Folate) and K
Minerals – Iron, Copper, Manganese, Potassium and Magnesium
The flavonoids (anthocyanins and quercetin) as well as the phenolic acid amygdalin in cherries may help lower symptoms or onset of several conditions: heart disease, pain from rheumatoid arthritis and gout, diabetes and other connective tissue ailments. Some studies show a reduced risk for colon and breast cancer by controlling cell-damaging free radicals.
How to Grow
A tasty addition to the garden. Grow well in moderately cool temperatures but not constantly freezing. Many varieties self-pollinate. Must match the cultivar to your area. Consult trusted fruit tree supplier for one that grows well and matches your taste. Varieties are sweet, sour, dwarf and standard. Pick site with plenty of sunlight. Thrive in soil rich in nutrients and organic matter. Soil should be pH 6-8 with moisture retentive, well-drained loam. Prepare soil area of five square feet by adding generous amounts of organic matter and nutrient rich planting mix or well-aged compost. Rock dusts also good to work in, because they continue to release vital nutrients for years. One-year-old trees are best to start. Make sure to allow for space of branches and foliage, usually just over 20 feet in diameter for full-size tree. Dig the hole 6 inches to a foot wider and deeper than the ball of roots in the transplant. Loosen soil at bottom of hole by poking with pitchfork or similar tool. Cut off elongated roots with a clean tool, plant tree and firm in soil around roots. Water until air bubbles stop appearing. Prune tree/s back to around 2-3 feet by cutting slightly above connection to an adjacent branch. Decreasing demand for water and nutrients will buy time for roots to catch up with supply. Shape as desired. Most importantly, cut internal lateral branches close to the trunk to maintain room for air and sun. Other than that, leave them to grow or trim branches similar to peach trees to increase fruit size. Leave cherries on tree as long as you can, but pick before they split. Eat sweet cherries right away. Use tart ones to cook with, bottle or make into jam within a few days.
Birds are main threat to cherries. Plan on losing about 30 percent of crop. If planting only one tree, consider planting a mulberry tree nearby to distract birds from cherries. They love mulberries. (If growing more than one tree, you will have more fruit than one family can think of consuming per season.) Sometimes aphids, winter moth or bacterial canker cause problems. Spray off aphids with a strong stream. Best way to get rid of winter moths: secure a grease band around the tree between fall and spring to stop females from crawling up to lay eggs. To rid bacterial canker, cut and dispose of all infected wood. Then spray copper fungicide three times with one month between applications.
When planting in windy, more exposed locations, support tree with a stake until trunk and roots are strong enough.