Fruit trees are a great way to help supplement both your diet and add some beauty to your lawn. Growing up with a small orchard in my yard provided great memories and also an opportunity to learn how to tend plants and make tasty recipes. Here are my tips for starting your orchard, or just planting a few fruit trees this season.
Asses Your Space
Fruit trees definitely need quite a bit of space to grow but some need less than others. If you have a lot of space and room for the trees to grow as they age, orchard type trees like peaches, apples or pears might work great for you. You need 8 to 10 feet between each tree, and the more, the better. If you have a cramped space, a small citrus tree could be a better option and just need a couple feet in between. You ill also want to be sure that the space gets plenty of sunshine, as fruit needs a lot of sun to grow.
Choose Your Trees
Go to a nursery or hardware store to purchase your starter trees. Be sure they have healthy branches that are strong and if you purchase one that is already blooming, that the blooms look healthy. The size of the tree isn’t as important as its over all health. If you’re having trouble choosing your tree, ask one of the specialists to help you pick the best one for your home. I have found that sometimes picking a smaller yet healthy tree ends up producing the best fruit.
Planting the Trees
When you plant the trees, you want to make sure you have the roots completely buried. Dig a hole that is deeper than the root growth is tall. Make sure the soil on the sides of the hole is slightly loose so the roots can easily spread. I like to do this by just tapping the shovel I used to dig on the sides gently. Next, spread the roots out so they aren’t as tangled, then refill the hole with soil. You can lightly water the roots, but its not necessary unless you live in a particularly dry climate.
Caring for Your Tree
You can place mulch or compost around the tree to help it grow healthier and provide rich nutrients to the soil. Interestingly, trees sunburn, so paint with a latex or acrylic paint or wrap with tape from the ground to the top. I prefer to use tape until I reach the part of the tree with branches then use a diluted paint solution to the top. Lastly, trim any branches that are looking less healthy to help the healthier ones thrive and grow. If you live in an insect prone area, fruit tree spray can help keep pests at bay.
It make take a season or two, depending on your climate for your tree to bear fruit. With a little patience, though, you will eventually have tasty fruit that you can eat, share and turn into delicious desserts or jam. For my family, the fruit was always turned into pies and jellies that we could share as a family. You can create your own special traditions with your own mini orchard, even if its just one tree.