What’s more fun than growing your own fruit? Eating it. Growing your own fruit in your backyard not only makes you feel like an amazing gardener, but it’s healthier for you and your family. Store bought fruit is often picked before it’s ripe, meaning it’s not always the most nutritious or tastiest. It can also contain harmful pesticides or foreign bacteria despite best farming practices. When you grow your own fruit, you know exactly what you’re getting, and the plants look beautiful in your yard.
Before deciding which trees to plant, you should know what climate zone you live in. Some trees are very temperamental with their weather. Also, take how much space you have into consideration. Orchard trees including apples, peaches and pears and need to be planted 8 feet apart unless you purchase dwarf versions. Those versions can grow in pots and will take up significantly less space. Some trees are also not self pollinating, like apples, pears and plums, so you will have to plant two of them. Self pollinators like nectarines, peaches and citrus trees are good on their own.
With this in mind, here are ten tasty fruit trees that you can grow on your own as well as some tips on care.
Apples can grow in almost any zone in sunny, well-drained soil, but still know where you’re located before choosing a variety. Trees come in standard, semi-dwarf and dwarf sizes as well as a few self-pollinating kinds. No matter your climate, if you go with a cross-pollinating tree, make sure you buy two of the same variety. You will also do well purchasing an already established tree because ones grown from seed may cross-pollinate to become a different variety than expected. Even though apples are very adaptable, they do best in climates with a dormant season.
Figs are one of the fruit trees that are also very ornamental in your yard. These low-maintenance trees are self pollinators, so don’t worry about buying more than one. They’re ready to be harvested in June and go through October. They do best in lower, coastal and tropical southern regions, but will also grow with a little more help in northern ones.
Though technically not a tree, these bushes are so cheery with white flowers in the spring and colorful leaves in the fall. The berries begin to ripen in June and are ready once they turn completely blue. The bushes need lots of sun and moisture, but well-drained soil to thrive, and they love compost. The variety you plant again depends on your region, but blueberries do not do well in cold environments.
4. Blackberries and Raspberries
These bushes also like the sun and well-drained soil, and act more like hedges and grow well when tied to trellises. You can also choose a self-supporting variety if you’d rather not get tangled up in the brambles, or even go with a thornless variety. Plant the bushes 2–3 feet apart. These bushes also do better in warmer climates.
There’s a reason cherries are associated with Washington D.C. They grow best in that type of climate (zones 5–8). They also need abundant sunshine and well-drained soil. There are many different types, colors and flavors when it comes to cherries, and each are particular about their climate. These plants need other cherries trees nearby in order to produce fruit (unless they are sour cherries), but they still make beautiful blooms if they are solitary.
Kumquats, oranges, lemons, limes and basically any citrus can all be treated the same. They enjoy zones 8–10 where the southern climates are warm and lack citrus-killing frosts. They are a great alternative to evergreens because they bloom all year and emit a lovely fragrance.
Avocados are slow to bear fruit, so it’s best to purchase an already mature tree. They need warm climates, so be sure you’ll be able to move it indoors when the temperatures drop. However, with rising avocado prices, this might be the most economical tree you purchase.
8. Peaches and Nectarines
Summer can never come soon enough so we can enjoy these juicy pit-fruits. Growing them yourself seems like a great idea, but they are very finicky trees. They need deep soil with no compacted subsoil and grow best in zones 5–8. They’re pest-prone and require some babysitting, but will still need to be replaced every 10 years or so.
Contrary to popular belief, those green plums on your tree are just as ripe as the purple ones. They grow well in zones 4–8 and need a compatible tree nearby for cross pollination. They bear fruit very sporadically, but even when they don’t bear fruit, the purple trees are very pretty.
While they prefer zones 4–7, pears are almost as adaptable as apples. There are many resilient varieties, but expect a four year waiting period before new trees bear fruit. Some varieties will grow in other zones, but regardless, remember to harvest your fruit just before it’s fully ripe. And with pear trees, loyalty is a virtue. Some 25 year old trees can yield up to 2,250 pounds of fruit a year.
Tips and Tricks
1. When to Plant
2. Where to Plant
- Fruit trees like fertile, sunny, well-drained soil that’s not frost-prone
3. How to Plant
Dig a hole twice the size of the root ball of the tree. Then, gently spread the roots out into the hole to promote it to anchor in and fill it with soil. The root ball should be planted as deep as the pot it came in from the nursery. Water the tree, then install a trunk guard to protect from pests and a stake to hold the tree steady while it takes root.
Fruit trees need to be pruned. This keeps the leaves accessible to light and fresh air. Branch patterns will vary by the different kinds of species of trees and should be established within the first year. As they get older, you can reduce your pruning to annually in late winter before the buds swell. And when in doubt, cut it off—it’s better to prune too much than too little. You may also have to thin the fruit while it’s still green to avoid damaging and heavy crops.
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