Fruit Growing Suggestions -- For the Yard and Home Garden
by Dawn Lesley Stewart
Not only do I enjoy the large vegetable garden in my yard, but I also grow a variety of fruit-bearing bushes, vines, and trees. A great feature of growing these types of plants is that they are perennials. You can enjoy the fruit in your yard year after year.
Here is a list of some fruit-bearing plants and my experiences with them:
I love the shape of apple trees. The two apple trees growing in my yard look beautiful. Apple trees do require care, though, in order to produce edible fruit. For instance, if your trees are located in the lawn as mine are, you cannot use a lawn fertilizer that also contains weed killer. The trees need to be pruned and shaped, plus they will most likely need treatment to keep insects out of the maturing apples. If you intend to grow apple trees that bear healthy fruit, I suggest reading about the proper fertilization and pruning care these trees require.
My vegetable garden has blackberry canes growing along the edge. Blackberries do not “bush”. Instead, they produce tall thorny canes from the ground. The first year, a cane produces leaves; the second year it produces fruit. Once a cane fruits, it won’t produce fruit again and will need to be pruned. My blackberry plants grow upright and need minimal support. The plants will reproduce, so think carefully where you wish to plant them as they can become invasive if not maintained.
Our family loves to pick fresh blueberries from our five bushes. The plants prefer consistent moisture without over-watering. Other than fertilizing the bushes two times during the growing season, I don’t give them special care. Deadwood will form that needs occasional pruning. The squirrels and birds also enjoy snatching the berries, so you may want to consider covering the bushes with netting when the fruit begins to mature. Make sure the netting piece is large enough to anchor to the ground with stakes so that the wildlife can’t sneak under it.
Lovely additions to my yard are cherry trees. I don’t provide them with special care, and they always produce edible cherries. The squirrels also enjoy raiding the trees, so if you want a dedicated harvest (just for you), you may want to cover smaller trees with netting. Squirrels love to bury their food, and I have several resulting cherry trees growing along the edge of woods in my yard.
We grew grapes for several seasons and, for us, decided that the return was not worth the effort or growing space. The vines need support, so I erected a sturdy wire fence for them to grow along. My brother also has grapes in his yard and built a trellised arbor for them to climb. Grape vines provide more fruit with yearly pruning.
Like an apple tree, plum trees require pruning and shaping of the tree. Plum trees enjoy full sun and lots of space around them. They also prefer consistent watering without being over-watered. Should their branches become too weighed with fruit, they could bend and break. If you see fruit-laden branches that look in danger of breaking, consider supporting the braches from underneath with post or pole support.
My property has a hill where I let the raspberry canes grow wild. The birds and smaller wildlife love the fruit as well as the protection the thorny plants provide. Raspberries are invasive, though. The birds eat the fruit, cycle it through their systems, and I now have a lot of raspberry plants where I don’t want them. The plants are difficult to eradicate once they gain hold, so make sure to immediately remove any plants you don’t want growing. Like blackberries, raspberry plants produce canes. My raspberry plants produce plenty of canes so they resemble bushes.
There are strawberries that grow in a bush formation, and strawberry plants that send out runners. I have both types growing in dedicated areas. It is important to keep weeds and grass away from the plants, or the strawberry plants could be choked out and die. They also like consistent watering without being over-watered. If I am lucky, the squirrels will leave me a few strawberries to taste, but they are quick at grabbing any ripe fruit.
I love growing fruiting plants throughout my yard. They add interesting shape, and their flowers are lovely. It’s also nice to know that I have a perennial food source growing on the property. The fruit is a bonus when the birds and animals share with me. I don’t mind, though. The critters have to eat too.
Happy Gardening !
Dawn Lesley Stewart has enjoyed organic gardening for over forty years, learning at a young age from her father. First love is vegetable gardening followed by her interest in butterfly and bee habitats. She considers her yard a sanctuary for birds and wildlife. Her writing has appeared online and in print and has won writing awards. Dawn is the author of Harriet’s Horrible Hair Day (picture book), Mist-Seer (paranormal novel), and her newest book 300-Plus Quilting Tips, Tricks & Techniques features over 35 years of quilting knowledge.
Copyright 2011 Dawn Lesley Stewart