Gardening season is upon us, and we’re all looking forward to getting out there and getting our hands in the dirt. Many of us are looking for new garden projects, and that’s wonderful—at Gardzen we believe that gardening is for everyone and that it’s all about exploring and experimenting. A prime garden project for many home gardeners is growing fruit trees at home. Fruit trees can be a wonderful addition to a home garden. In addition to (eventually) supplying tasty fruit, they can also be wonderful accent pieces in your landscape design. So, how do you grow fruit trees at home? What’s the right fruit tree for your garden? Let’s dig in!
There are a number of considerations you should balance before buying a bunch of fruit trees and planting them around your garden. As with all plants, different types of fruit tree have different requirements for temperature, season, soil, and water. You’ll want to do some research and find the right trees for your climate zone, first and foremost. Local research and local knowledge are helpful here, so consider reaching out to your county agricultural extension or a gardeners group in your area. They can supply more direct information and perhaps tell you where you can get saplings, or young trees, to start. While it goes without saying, you really should grow fruit trees that produce fruit you like and want to eat!
The next thing to think about is space. As with all plants, fruit trees have space requirements to ensure that they can grow healthy and strong and produce fruit. Nurseries sell fruit trees based on size, and there are three general sizes to choose from:
- Dwarf fruit trees are the smallest, generally growing 8 to 10 feet (2.5 to 3 meters) in height and width. Though small, dwarf fruit trees can be quite productive and because they reach full size more quickly than standard trees they often start producing fruit more quickly. Their short stature also makes harvesting fruit easier. They may need a bit more protection and support than standard sized trees, but for a small garden they can be the perfect choice.
- Semi-dwarf fruit treesare larger than dwarf fruit trees but smaller than standard trees. They generally reach about 12 to 15 feet (3.6 to 4.6 meters) in both height and width, so you may need a ladder to harvest when the fruits are ripe. With a bit of pruning, they don’t take up much more space than dwarf varietals and are generally sturdier.
- Standard fruit treesare the “regular” size trees found in orchards, and they can reach 18 feet (7 meters) or more in height and width. They take longer to reach maturity, and produce a great deal of fruit. You’ll likely need a ladder or fruit picker to harvest it all, and most standard fruit trees will give you enough fruit for your own consumption along with plenty to preserve or give away.
Most fruit trees varieties come in all three sizes, but if a sapling is unmarked it’s safest to assume it’s a standard-sized tree. The right sized tree for you will depend on the size of your space, but we’d like to note that many dwarf and semi-dwarf fruit trees can be grown in containers like grow bags. This makes them perfect for patios, sun rooms, and colder climates as they can be brought inside for the winter.
When it comes to planting, most fruit trees need rich soil, good sun, and plenty of water. They also tend to like good drainage, so selecting your planting site can be tricky. You can amend soil in any number of ways—compost is good—and fruit trees are generally best planted in the spring. It’s important to remember that most fruit trees are an exercise in patience, as it can take between two and five years for them to start producing fruit. It’s well worth it, however, and they’ll add beauty to your garden in the meantime.
We hope that this blog gets you interested in growing your own fruit. It’s possible in many sizes of garden, and it’s something interesting and unique for gardeners to try. If you have fruit trees or are just starting growing them, let us know—we love to hear from you!