We have been kicking around the idea of planting fruit trees in our yard for several years now. If we had bought them when we first talked about it many years ago, we would already be enjoying some sweet succulent fruit, but alas, we are just now eight years later getting around to purchasing our first fruit trees.
This weekend we took a 1-1/2 hour road trip to a nursery with the plans of purchasing a few fruit trees. We didn’t have a lot in mind when we got there, except the space that we had and a general idea of the kind of fruit we wanted to grow. After getting schooled on fruit trees and asking about a bazillion questions, we returned home with six fruit trees that we bought, a free peach tree that was given to us, and an elderberry bush. Did we go overboard? Maybe. The jury is still out on that one. We’ll find out in the next few years when we are either thanking ourselves for buying so many trees as we are swimming in delicious fruit, or are kicking ourselves thinking, “What did we do?” I hope we are part of the swimming in fruit scenerio, but only time will tell.
Fruit trees are a little different than planting vegetables since you have to think years ahead when planning. They grow pretty significantly in size and you won’t get fruit for at least a couple of years after you plant them. They aren’t instant gratification type plants like lettuce that you can plant and a month later enjoy in your salads. They take patience and require some vision.
There are many factors that you need to think through when choosing fruit trees for your home orchard.
How much room do you have? Are there any power lines that may be affected? What other visions do you have for your space? Patios, decks, water, etc all need to be taken into consideration when choosing fruit trees. You need a nice sunny well drained area. They also come in different sizes.
- Miniature: 6 ft. People often grow these in pots.
- Dwarf: 8-10 ft. tall and wide. These produce full size fruit but are small enough that you won’t have to climb a ladder to pick. Usually bear fruit the 2nd or 3rd season.
- Semi-dwarf: 12- 15 ft. tall and wide. Medium in size and very productive fruit bearers. You will likely get lots of fruit from this size per square foot.
- Standard: 20 ft. tall and wide. Lots of fruit, tall, will need a ladder to prune and pick fruit. Provides great shade, and a good multi-purpose size. My take 3-5 years to bear fruit.
Certain trees and varieties grow best in certain zones. This is important to take into consideration when choosing what you are going to plant, especially if you are ordering online from a retailer that ships a variety of trees to different zones. Many online companies have search functions based on what zone you are in, to make choosing your fruit trees easier.
What is the purpose of your fruit tree? Are you mainly wanting it for fruit, or are you also wanting it for significant shade and to enhance the aesthetics of your yard?
Do you want a lot of fruit or a smaller amount? If you are wanting a LOT of fruit and some shade from the trees, you may want to choose semi-dwarf or standard size over dwarf. If you want a medium amount of fruit and don’t care about the shade, dwarf trees may be better suited for you.
How are you planning to care for your tree?
If you are planning to heavily spray your trees, it may not matter, but if you are wanting to choose organic methods for disease and pest control, it is best to choose a variety of tree that is disease resistant. The nursery that you purchase from should have this information available. If you are ordering from a catalog or online retailer, they should also have this information listed. You will have better luck caring for your trees organically, if right off the bat you are choosing a disease resistant tree.
What We Chose
We were desiring trees that fit within these categories:
- Disease Resistant
- Easy to care for
- Will produce fruit fairly soon
Based on all of the above, these are what we chose. The peach and apple trees needed two because they needed another pollinator. The plum and cherry trees are self pollinating, so we only needed one. Make sure you know if your trees need another pollinator! Most will, so you need to buy them in pair instead of just a single tree. Ours were all bareroot trees that are 1 year old, so we are expecting to get fruit in a year or two.
- Intrepid Peach Dwarf
- Sentry Peach Dwarf
- Blondee Apple Dwarf
- Enterprise Apple Dwarf
- Stanley Plum Dwarf
- Whitegold Cherry Semi-Dwarf
Stay tuned for part 2 next week where I discuss how to plant your fruit trees.
Do you have a home orchard? What are you growing?
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