Growing your own fresh fruit is as easy as 1-2-3; the right planting location for a fruit tree, the right fruit tree variety and a plan of attack for pests and disease. This approach will provide you with fresh fruit, fragrant blooms in the spring, landscape beauty, bird lodging and wood for the BBQ or smoker that will add flavor to home cooked meals.
Fruit trees can be planted any time of the year but fall is especially good because cooler temperatures are less stressful on the trees and less water is required to help establish them. Plant them in the fall and they have time to take root (literally) before the fast growth of the following spring. This planting approach gives your trees a head start that can lead to heartier growth and earlier fruiting.
Another benefit is that you can get trees very affordably this time of year. For most nurseries and growers their boom is in the spring. By late summer and fall, they are willing to let go of trees for rock bottom prices. Just this week I scored four trees for $10 each. They were very mature, potted fruit trees that were going for about $65 each just a month or two earlier. Save some pennies and plant when it makes the most “cents”.
Use these tips and get ready to plant some fruit trees this fall in your own backyard.
Select a planting location that will receive full sun and has good air circulation. A fruit tree will not bear well if it’s planted in a ‘frost pocket’ either. Observe the location on a few chilly fall mornings, if the location has a spot of frost on it while the surrounding landscape is frost-free, the spot is a frost pocket and another location should be selected for fruit tree planting.
Amend the Soil
In early fall, clear away all debris on the soil surface and till the soil in a 4 x 4 square or circle and 18 inches deep. Take a soil sample to your local county extension office to be tested and add whatever nutrients the soil may be lacking, then let the soil rest for two days before the planting the fruit tree.
There are many disease-resistant fruit tree varieties on the market, but you need to know which ones are best suited to your particular growing climate. Your county extension agent or local nurseryman will be able to provide information and help you select fruit trees best suited for your climate. Do your research and be aware of what kind of diseases and pests your trees may be susceptible to. A plan of attack can be formulated before hand if you know what might come your way. One tree variety may sound better than another too when you take all factors into consideration. Another aspect to consider is the possibility of selecting historic or heirloom fruit trees.
Dig a planting hole in the center of the prepared soil that is twice as deep and twice as wide as the root ball of your fruit tree. Back-fill the hole half-way with compost, then gently remove the fruit tree from its container and set in the center of the hole. Make sure the top of the soil around the root ball is even with the ground surrounding the planting hole, then finish back-filling the hole with soil. Water in well, then gently pat the soil down to ensure that all tree roots are in contact with the soil, then add a four inch layer of organic mulch on top of the soil to help retain moisture.
Organic Pest and Disease Control
Use a clay-based protectant spray on the fruit tree in the spring after the blooms have fell off. The organic clay spray will form a thin film on the tree foliage and budding fruit to create a chalky barrier that discourages most pests from invading the tree. A clay-based spray also protects fruit trees against sunburn and heat stress. Tree guards and tree wrap are also good for keeping rabbits, rodents, and winter weather from damaging the trunk.