Fruit trees are not only beautiful to look at, but when properly planted and maintained, they also will produce delicious and nutritious food for your family for years to come. With a minimal investment of time, money and energy, you can grow your own mini-orchard, no matter how small your yard.
Things You'll Need
- Organic Compost
- Wooden Stakes
- Chicken Wire or Fencing
- Netting (if birds are a problem)
Investigate the different types of fruit trees that are available in your area and choose the tree that will be best for you. Consider the tree’s fruit-bearing potential, the type of soil and light conditions the tree requires and whether your tree will need a companion tree to help pollinate the fruit. Most fruit trees need a companion tree planted 15 feet or less away in order to bear fruit. Some varieties of fruit trees do not need cross-pollinators, but they will produce more fruit if you have a companion planted nearby. Choose dwarf trees if you have limited space. Most dwarf trees produce as much full-sized fruit as their larger counterparts, but they take up less space and need less light than full-sized fruit trees. Consider what types of sweet fruit will be best to grow in your environment--apples, pears, peaches, citrus, cherries or plums--and choose your tree based on your research, space and tastes.
Visit your local gardening store to purchase your fruit trees. Buy a potted tree or purchase the trees as a bare root plants. Ask your salesperson if the store offers tree-planting with the purchase of your tree. If not, you will need to plant your own trees.
Plant your fruit trees during the spring or early fall, in the evening or during cloudy weather when the tree will not become stressed or overheated during planting. For each tree, dig a hole that is the depth of the root ball and 1 ½ times as wide. Shovel the dirt onto a tarp so that it will be easier to fill in after you have planted your tree. Fill the bottom of your hole with three or four shovels full of organic compost, then set the tree into the hole, cut through the burlap covering if there is one, fill the area around the root ball with the dirt you have saved from shoveling and tamp the soil around the root and trunk. Check to make sure that the tree is standing straight in the hole, then water the roots thoroughly, add more dirt around the trunk, and tamp the soil again.
Fill the area around the trunk of your sweet fruit tree with shredded newspaper, bark mulch, dead grass clippings or pine needles to protect the tree from weeds and help to maintain moisture in the soil around the tree.
Add a chicken wire barrier around the base of your tree if you have small animals that might be tempted to climb the branches. Add a temporary fence if you are concerned that your dog or cat may urinate or defecate around the trunk of your new fruit tree. Use wooden stakes and ropes to secure the tree in an upright position during winter or windy conditions.
Spread organic fertilizer around your fruit tree’s trunk in the spring and fall. Test the pH balance of your soil, and compare it to a pH chart for the type of fruit tree you have planted. Adjust the pH in your soil accordingly by adding nutrients and fertilizer to the soil around the tree.
Pinch off new buds during your fruit tree’s second season to encourage larger, sweeter and juicier fruit growth the following year. Giving your tree an extra year to mature will pay off with better tasting and healthier fruit over the life of the tree. Remove small, low branches with pruning sheers to encourage the higher branches to grow stronger and produce better quality fruit.
Spray your fruit tree with an organic fruit tree spray if you notice evidence of pest infestation, including blotchy leaves, dark spots, holes, wilt or discoloration. Be sure to wash thoroughly any fruit that you harvest from a tree sprayed with pesticides or herbicides before eating it.
Mulch, fertilize and water your fruit trees as needed. Check their leaves for evidence of mold, mildew or pest infestation, and treat the trees accordingly. Remove any dead branches, leaves or debris from the base of the tree to discourage rot and insects. Cover the tree with a sheer net if birds are a problem, and fence the tree in if pets climb its branches.