~Guest post by the fabulous Cindy Keller~
There’s so much joy to be gathered by growing your own fruit trees. Imagine having your own fruit trees in the backyard and the joy that comes with serving your very own homegrown fruits for dessert!
The truth is fruit gardening does not need to be a demanding affair.
Some fruit trees will crop well for years with almost no attention, provided they have been planted properly and received care early on. Compared to vegetable planting, fruit gardening is really straightforward and only need to be planted in appropriate surroundings.
Benefits of Fruit Gardening
There are a lot of benefits one can realize from growing one’s own fruit. For instance, it guarantees the homeowner a chemical free crop that you would not get with commercially produced fruits.
Grapes which are harvested for supermarkets and stores do not always come chemical free and are usually drenched with chemicals by the time they get to the consumer.
You can also grow your own fruit organically since you can control the way the fruit tree should grow. Perennial fruit plants for instance can grow well on poor soil and have a chance to benefit from the full ecological support that builds up in an established area.
Growing your own fruits additionally offers the chance to develop delicious fruits capable of offering fresh vitamins to its owner.
Imagine getting to pluck your own apples and oranges from the garden and enjoying the immense vitamins that are stored in them. Gardeners who grow their own fruit trees will also realize that such trees add character to the garden landscape and look good even during the winter season.
Choosing the Fruit Trees That Work for You
The kind of fruit tree you grow depend on the size of your garden and the amount of energy and time you are willing to devote to fruit growing. You should think carefully about the kind of fruits you want and where you will grow them before visiting garden centers and nurseries.
Some fruit trees for instance will grow up to 20 feet and are not fit for a small garden.
Instead, choose dwarf rootstock varieties if you are looking to grow them in containers in a small garden.
Such varieties can be made to look good on a patio or the front entrance to a home.
Although many fruit trees can grow with very little attention, they will do well if some consideration is given to their planting needs.
For instance, most fruit trees enjoy a sheltered and sunny position for their growing needs.
The sun will encourage the fruits to ripen as well as allow for the production of good flavor and color. Fruit trees also enjoy shelter as it keeps them warm and reduces the risk of wind damage.
For those who have small gardens, it might be a consideration to grow dwarf fruit trees in containers. Growing fruits in containers, as with vegetables, has become increasingly popular and allows the gardener to have the satisfaction of eating fruit fresh from the plant.
Container-grown plants have also the added versatility of being moved around, weather permitting. For the best chance of success, always choose fruits with a good track record as container-grown plants. Strawberries for instance are a perennial favorite and can be grown in all sorts of containers.
General Care for Fruit Gardening
When shopping for fruit trees at your local nurseries or garden centers, search for only sound, sturdy plants which will become long-term garden residents. Purchase plants of high grade stock which are guaranteed to be healthy and free of disease. This will ensure that your plants will be free of such diseases as mosaic virus which may not be detectable in a young plant.
You should also plant your fruit trees and bushes at the correct spacing.
Many fruits are susceptible to rot caused by the fungal diseases that thrive in humid, overcrowded conditions. When plants are exposed to sufficient air and light, you will notice that the threat of fungal diseases is also reduced considerably.
If you are growing strawberries or gooseberries, you will realize that such plants need to be staked or trained against a surface. This also includes plants grown in containers which need an angled stake added after planting. You must also provide well secured support like wires and posts for soft fruits such as raspberries and red currants.
Once your fruit trees are harvested, you will need to ensure the soil gets the necessary nutrients. Regular mulching with well-rotted organic matter will help with soil fertility while adding an organic fertilizer in late winter is beneficial.
It is best to add organic fertilizers early as it takes time for the fertilizer to be absorbed into the soil and offer the nutrition to the plant roots. Some fruits like red currants for instance need potash so it is best to read labels carefully when buying and noting any special requirements.
Most fruiting plants need some form of protection against frost, birds and other pests, and diseases.
Barrier protection such as netting, fleece or cages is simple and effective. Try to avoid using chemical sprays as these can kill or deter pollinating insects. They are also undesirable products to have in contact with edible crops.
You can always grow your fruits with other plants. As with vegetables, growing fruit in tandem with other plants has substantial benefits. For example, when planting apple trees, you can plant chives which are useful in preventing apple scab. Planting nasturtiums around the base of an apple tree will also discourage woolly aphids from appearing.
There are many other benefits which can be associated with growing your own fruit trees. Not only do you assure yourself of a supply of fresh, locally grown food, but you ensure that you promote cleaner air in the surrounding and reduce energy costs.
Growing fruits in your home garden also means you get a chance to reduce the cost of utilities such as electricity and water to the area.
For instance, a fruit tree providing shade can reduce the need for cooling on a hot day. You will also notice that your lawns will become healthier and more vibrant since they will not lose moisture or get scorched by the sun.
It isn’t surprising given all this why some home owners enjoy fruit gardening since it can be an undemanding task as compared to growing vegetables.
Cindy Keller is a writer, blogger and a gardening enthusiast who lives in suburban New Jersey with a menagerie of animals and a family she loves. When she is not busy sharpening up efforts to grow her precious rose garden, she can be found thumping her fingers away as a Customer Service Manager at MyGardenGifts.com.