Growing Fruit Trees
If you are worried about finding fruit that hasn't been sprayed with chemicals or treated, that is, organic fruit - then there is no better way to find this than through growing your own. While your organic fruit may not be as beautiful and glossy as the fruit you buy in the store, you know with every bite what you are getting. Growing fruit trees doesn't have to be complicated and it certainly doesn't require a lot of room. You can grow fruit in a tiny backyard or even in a small garden. Depending on the size of your yard and area where you may even want to plant a dwarf, semi dwarf tree. The beauty of fruit trees is that they also are ornamental. Nothing beats the beautiful blossoms of spring that appear on fruit trees. If that isn't enough, apple trees are great for climbing and providing shade. For your organic fruit tree to produce fruit, it must be pollinated. Some trees are self-pollinating while others need to be planted in pairs. Some trees require three trees in order to be pollinated. Ask your local nursery if self-pollinating trees are available, otherwise, let the bees do all of the work! If you are planting just apples, try putting in a crabapple tree, something many plant purely for pollination sake. When it comes to where you should plant your tree, if you have a large piece of property to grow your fruit tree on, take into consideration the landscape. Nearby slopes may cause frost pockets, which will adversely affect your fruit. Wind may also stunt the growth of your fruit trees and the altitude of your garden may be better suited for certain fruits or strains. You can ask your local nursery about what types of fruit grow the best in your climate. Next you need to prepare your soil. Going fully organic, prepare your soil only with organic compost. Many people take a soil
test prior to planting their trees. Your local County Extension Center can instruct you in collecting the soil sample, help you interpret the results, and provide valuable information about the soil in your county. Results from the soil test will determine the soil amendments necessary to correct nutrient deficiencies and adjust soil pH. The amendments should be worked into the soil to a depth of 12 to 18 inches where the tree will root, not just the planting hole. For example, apple trees will tolerate a wide range of soils as long as water and nutrients are not limiting and soil pH is adequate. Avoid heavy, poorly drained soils and low spots, since many trees cannot survive if water remains standing in the root zone. Second, buying a healthy tree is important. When shopping for your tree, examine it for disease or wilting. Pick the strongest and the best. If you are planting a bare root, it may take years before your tree bares fruit, but the trees are much more affordable to purchase. Keeping your organic fruit trees healthy throughout their life span is also important. Some plant a variety of local native grasses and plants around their trees to avoid most harmful pests. Planting lavender bushes and other flowers near your fruit trees will encourage bees, which are necessary for pollinating your trees. The more insects there are in your garden, the healthier your fruit. There are always more beneficial insects than harmful ones. For example, one ladybug can eat 25 aphids every day! There is also beneficial bacteria and fungi that bad insects and diseases don't like to be around, and this helps the tree or shrub naturally grow to its full capability and health. Growing organic fruit just requires a little bit of knowledge and effort, but in the end, you can have the fruit you pay high prices for at the store, for little to nothing. Written by Andrew Johnson.