Fruit trees may offer a better return on effort than anything in the garden.A single semi-dwarf apple tree, for example, can produce up to 500 apples in a season, with a productive life of 15 to 20 years. Several trees, with different harvest times, can bring fruit to your table 8 months of the year.
Consider The Benefits Of Planting Your Own Fruit Trees:
Your own supply of organic fruit. With your own fruit trees you know exactly what you’re getting. No sprays, no wax, no chemicals. And you can enjoy a steady supply of fruit for much of the year. Besides fresh fruit in the fall, you can store apples through winter, and can preserve fruit for year-round use in cooking and baking. It’s also fun to share your harvest with friends!
Savings. The cost of organic fruit is high. Averaged over a ten year period, organic apples from your own tree will cost only a few cents apiece. Compare this with the supermarket price for organic apples.
Good for the environment. A fruit tree filters the air, conditions the soil, provides shade, shelters wildlife and attracts pollinators to your garden. And there are no transportation impacts when growing fruit in your own yard.
You can have all of the above for very low cost and a relatively small amount of annual maintenance!
Tips for Growing Successful Fruit Trees
Be careful taking your new tree home. Bare root fruit trees require careful handling since they can die of shock. When transporting a young fruit tree, be sure to keep the root ball damp and shaded from sun.
Always keep graft line clear of debris and above ground. Bare root fruit trees usually have had the particular variety grafted onto a hardier root stock. When planting the tree, if the graft line is set below ground level the tree may revert to its root stock and give the wrong fruit – like crab apples! When adding mulch, be sure to pull the mulch a few inches away from the tree stem. This will help ensure the soil level does not rise above the graft.
Thin the fruit soon after the young fruit appears. If the size of the fruit produced from your tree is below expectations, it may be due to an over-abundance of fruit on the tree. The tree has only so much energy to use to produce fruit, so thinning (removing some of the fruit) is essential to produce large fruit in some species, such as peach and apple. For best results, thin fruit trees early in the season, when the fruit is still quite small.
Does your tree fail to produce fruit some years? Healthy, productive trees sometimes take a year off. However, if a fruit tree produces an over-abundance of fruit which is not thinned, the tree may become a biennial producer. Therefore, it is prudent to thin the fruit when trees produce a large amount of fruit.
Defend against Apple Maggots. The apple maggot is the most destructive pest of apples grown in home orchards. This insect is a type of fly which pierces the skin of ripening fruit and lays eggs. In 5 – 10 days, the eggs hatch a maggot which burrows through the fruit. These pests can be managed by using sticky red sphere traps. Hang one trap for every 100 apples in a tree.
Other Pests? There are numerous insect pests which can affect the production of your fruit trees. Insect pest invasions are often cyclical, and may persist through one season but not appear the following year. It helps to keep an annual record of fruit tree performance so you can identify problems which persist longer than one season, as well as which trees are most susceptible to pest problems.
Rake the leaves. Fruit tree leaves should not be used as mulch around the garden. If the leaves are still on the ground, cover the area with ground limestone. This will prevent spores on the leaves on the ground from developing.
Prune during the dormant season. All major pruning should be done in late winter or spring. Ask your nursery for a leaflet on pruning. Some pruning is usually required each year to keep the tree growing in a balanced shape.
Water during dry seasons. Water once every two weeks during dry spells; put a pan under tree and water until it fills 5 – 8cm (2 – 3″) to ensure water reaches the root zone.
Make a field plan. Record on paper when you planted and what varieties you planted so when you harvest you’ll know what variety you are enjoying. Do not depend on memory or the plant identification tags to know what you planted – both will fade with time.
Beware the weedeater! A weedeater can quickly damage a fruit tree by cutting the bark at ground level. This can stress the tree to cause reduced blooming and fruiting, and repeated injuries can even kill the tree.
adapted from www.eartheasy.com