Growing your own fruit trees means you will be able to enjoy not only tasty, old-fashioned varieties of popular fruit but also unusual treats such as banana passionfruit, blueberries, tree tomatoes and custard apples. Here are some easy tips to get you started.
The benefits of growing fruit trees
- Apart from the fresh fruit there is the bonus of delicious pies, jams and even wine made with your own produce.
- And fruit trees yield beauty as well as food: clouds of fragrant blossoms in the spring and colourful clusters of fruit in the autumn.
Starting your fruit tree garden
On even the smallest property — or in a suburban backyard — it is possible to create a small orchard to provide fresh fruit for the family over many months of the year. Even a small inner-city courtyard garden has space for a citrus tree or two.
- Fruiting plants generally require less care than flowers and vegetables, and although some may take from one to five years to come into production, with care most of them will keep producing for many years to come.
- In large gardens an area can be set aside for fruiting trees, or they can be mixed with ornamental trees and shrubs, providing they get plenty of sunlight, which is necessary for the ripening of the fruit.
- Many fruiting plants are attractive and can be grown as ornamentals that are also productive. Deciduous fruit trees, for example, have interesting shapes and provide a bonus of beautiful spring blossoms.
- When choosing a position for fruiting trees, vines or bushes, keep in mind that it must provide enough space to accommodate mature plants.
- Avoid placing trees too close together because their branches will overlap and prevent sunlight from reaching the fruit.
Consider your climate
- Plant only those varieties that are recommended for your climate and place them in a warm and sheltered position, with some protection against strong winds and winter frosts.
- It is possible to grow plants away from their ideal climate zone, as long as the correct microclimate is provided.
- But these plants will mean more work for you; they will be more susceptible to pests and disease infestation, and they will require constant monitoring.
- In a cool district, a newly planted fruit tree may need protection such as a simple hessian frost cover to shelter the tree from spring frosts (which can damage soft new growth) and from autumn frosts (which will damage late-maturing fruit). After about 18 months, when the tree has become well established, this protection will no longer be necessary.
A tree, vine or bush for every space
Fruiting plants are divided into a number of broad categories.
- Tree fruits include the common, cool- to temperate-climate fruits such as apples and pears (“pome” fruits, with a core and pips), peaches, apricots and nectarines (“stone” fruits, with a large central stone), as well as oranges, lemons and grapefruit (“citrus” fruit with soft, juicy flesh and pips).
- Berry fruits are soft, usually cool-climate fruits such as raspberries and currants.
- Vine fruits include climbers such as passionfruit, grapes and Chinese gooseberries. Because of their specific temperature needs, most hot-climate fruits, such as pineapples, mangoes and bananas are classified climatically as “tropical and subtropical” rather than by their horticultural characteristics.
Fruit trees are delicious additions to any garden, as they produce bountiful crops as well as shade in the summer. They often reach great size, and many of the fruit trees you plant will provide pleasure long after your lifetime.