Growing fruit from a personal garden may seem like a daunting task to the novice gardener but there are easy methods by which different types of fruit may be grown not only successfully, but within a limited amount of space and to the joy of the grower as well.
Different Kinds Have Different Needs
Each variety of fruit needs specific care and, while there are generic steps to follow to ensure proper growth and production, a grower must be aware of the individual plant’s inherent traits and needs: will it need more sunlight or shade? Can it be potted or does it need space? Must seeds be direct sown in the earth or can they start indoors?
A grower must take into account their personal needs too. While it may be convenient to buy established plants, seedlings tend to be more expensive than buying seeds. However, planting from seed will require time, as it takes a few weeks for seeds to germinate.
When to Plant?
Besides having all appropriate tools at hand, the first thing to consider is when to plant. Frost can be deadly to sprouts so, if planting from seed, it’s usually a good idea to start inside the home. Pod kits are convenient ways to ensure plants get a head start.
Besides offering a neat way to organize plantings they also give the grower assurance of weeding out weak seedlings. Pods will often be wrapped in light meshing which roots can grow right through and once a plant is beginning to leaf and stands erect it’s usually ready to be replanted to a more permanent home.
Healthy Soil is a Must
A poor foundation does no good for growing plants, so a healthy and nutritious soil must be used. Good soil may be purchased at any nursery and, for those who feel more ambitious, home-made compost mixed with rich planting soil is just as good, if not better. The Planet Natural Research Center provides a guide to creating ideal compost which can be made at any time during the year.
It’s often an incorrect assumption that growing fruit will take up more space than most homes or apartments allot but, with proper care and a little know-how, even the most unassuming places can be the perfect place to grow. According to The Guardian, sweeter fruit like strawberries, apricots, apples, and grapes thrive in areas that receive strong sunlight and are grown just fine in pots or planters, perfect for small spaces!
On the contrary, tart fruit such as raspberries, currants, and Morello cherries benefit more from growing in shaded spots with less direct sun and will grow in planters as well as in maintained gardens.
You Don’t Need a Lot of Space
Of the smaller fruit varieties, strawberries are among the most versatile; they can grow anywhere, which makes them ideal for the novice grower. Besides being ornamental, they produce fruit whether planted in window boxes, baskets, or hangers.
Plenty of other fruits do perfectly well in pots that can be stored indoors or on patios. Citrus fruit like limes and lemons and cherry and pomegranate trees are hardy and, besides being relatively low maintenance, will give that empty corner in the living room more green flair.
Taking Care of Your Fruit
Fruiting trees are surprisingly easy to care for and don’t require as much space as one might think. It’s always a good idea to do some research on the varieties of trees as some may be more prone to diseases while others thrive with very little maintenance. Professional growers of the Walden Effect in Virginia have compiled a list of disease and rot resistant fruit with notations on which varieties are more susceptible.
Two useful ways a fruit tree can be grown and cared for are growing via rootstock and implementing the Cordon method. Both yield good harvests while keeping the maintenance and size of the tree at a minimum. They also offer the grower the choice to plant the tree directly into the earth or inside a pot for convenience; the plant will thrive either way with proper care.
A rootstock is simply an established root system onto which a fruiting plant has been grafted. The grafted plant, the scion, will be controlled in its height, growth rate, and production by the root. This means that within a season or two the tree will be producing fruit.
Local nurseries may sell grafted trees either in containers or with their roots wrapped in burlap. Gardener’s Supply Company suggests planting young trees as early in the spring as possible, keeping in mind the possibility of frost. Planting early ensures that the tree has a full season to become properly acclimated and may spend the second season well established and focusing on growth.
Many rootstock plants are sold as dwarf varieties. This allows a grower to benefit from a fruiting plant without being concerned with growing a tree that is too large to manage. However, dwarf rootstocks may have somewhat limited root systems and will not thrive well if planted in competition with grasses, weeds, and other plants.
They agree best with mild climates and will often have a lifespan of ten to twenty years. Another benefit is that multiple varieties of a fruit can be grafted onto a single root, giving the illusion of one tree that bears different types of a fruit. It also aids in pollination.
The Cordon method is very popular in the UK and involves growing the tree as a single, vertical stem with any basal growths or off-shoots being cut and removed. This ensures that the tree focuses more on growing upward as needed and producing more fruit instead of foliage. As explained in this blog, the technique is appropriate for pear and apple varieties and can produce fruit in as little as two years’ time.
No matter what kind of fruit a grower chooses to start with, the versatility that fruit offer in general allow for beginners everywhere to succeed and benefit from growing them. With persistence, and a little love, any space can be turned into a garden.