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Cherry Pits of July
July 26, 2015
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Trautman Plants
August 24, 2015

Home Orchard Success

home orchard

Success With A Home Orchard

Ever think of growing your own fruit? Wonder what it entails and how much effort it will be? Will you be successful? Given that the popularity of home fruit production has exploded in the past few years, many people have had these same thoughts. Sometimes it has even been difficult to keep enough fruit trees in stock at nurseries/garden centers to meet demand!

If you have already started your home orchard, then congratulations to you! If not, then the question is “What are you waiting for?” Perhaps you do not know where to start, what to grow, or how to plant and care for fruit trees. That is where we come in. Just ask! At Johnson’s Nursery, we are plant people. We care about our plants (one could go so far as to call them “our babies”) and will be happy to get you started on the joys of home fruit growing.

Why bother growing your own fruit? There are many reasons:

Quality & Freshness:

Did you ever buy fruit that was less than ideal? Too tart, too soft, poor skin color, no flavor, etc? Sometimes fruit is not picked commercially at the peak time. They pick early and keep fruit in cold storage so it ships better. By growing your own, you control when it is best to pick.

Nostalgia:

Some growers desire an heirloom variety they ate years ago that is no longer available in their area. Perhaps it is the memories of sitting under their grandparents’ giant apple tree and happily munching on Jonathan apples. Or maybe they desire to enjoy the same apples as famous historical people (Thomas Jefferson grew Albemarle Pippen and Ben Franklin enjoyed Rhode Island Greenings).

Organic:

Worried about pesticide use on the apples you purchase? Then grow your own in bags! No spraying needed. No harsh chemicals to worry about. The Japanese have been growing apples in bags for years and it works great (I do this in my orchard, too).

Preservation:

If you are into canning, freezing, jams & jellies, etc, then growing your own will provide you with lots of fruit for this purpose. Sometimes it is not so economical to buy fruit in large quantities when you want to can or preserve in large quantities as well.

The Challenge:

Bona fide gardeners with green thumbs who MUST try everything at least once–horticulturally speaking. Their lives will not be complete without mastering home fruit growing.

The Weirdos:

These are those fortunate few that are just possessed by fruit. They eat, breath, and sleep thinking about fruit. They drive their children crazy by yelling out “I see an apple tree!” every time they are on a road trip (Spoiler: the author is in this category).

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You cannot harvest if you do not plant!

How did I get started in fruit? My interest began at the age of 5. My parents had just bought a large lot in what was then a new subdivision. I was terrified at the thought of moving from my happy home to this new site, dealing with a new house, new school and having to meet new friends. Too much NEW for a 5 year-old!

My reconciliation came when my father noticed that our part of the subdivision was developed on an old apple orchard. Since the developer had been so kind as to leave each lot with 3-4 large standard fruit trees, our lot was blessed with 4 apple trees. Apple trees? After tasting the luscious fruit and seeing how many were on the trees, my fear of change was gone. How can life be bad when you have your own source of fresh delicious apples?

Growing fruits can be addictive, however. When to stop? There is always one more variety desired. Perhaps squeeze another tree in the corner of the yard? Grow a dwarf blueberry or raspberry in a tub on the patio? Plant columnar or espalier apple trees to save on space? The prospects are endless and the rewards can be great. You will never have too much fruit as friends are always willing to help out with this problem.

How successful can fruit growing be? Yes, the crop can vary based on spring frosts, harsh winters, insect and disease levels, etc. Some years are better than others, just like growing any crop. 2015 was a fabulous year for me:

Pears: 37 quarts of Bartlett Pears canned from one tree. Plenty left for fresh eating.
Apples: 2-6 bushels per tree (trees varied in size and age). 16 bushels harvested total.
Plums: 300 prune plums off one Stanley tree.
Grapes: Each vine averaged about ½ bushel of Concord grapes.
Black raspberry: 8 quarts from one plant!

Yes my 2015 harvest was exceptional. But you cannot harvest if you do not plant! So let’s make next year the year to start your home orchard. We have a great selection of fruits. Call or stop in and we can help you be a successful home fruit grower too.