Trees are the most productive plants on earth. One average-sized fruit tree produces over 250 pounds of fruit per year. Did you get that? 250 pounds from one single tree! Most fruit trees are also super easy to grow and don’t require much maintenance, or even water after they get established. So, if you want to walk out your door and harvest lots of your own healthy, tasty fruit, you should consider planting trees this winter. Trees also pull carbon out of the atmosphere, so they are one small easy step we can take to help combat global warming.
Picture above shows trees planted fairly close together, so more varieties of fruit trees can be grown in a small area
Now some fun tree facts:
- Trees communicate with each other by signaling through bacteria and fungi living in the soil, through the air or by sound. Acacia trees in Africa will signal other trees in their area that Giraffes are feeding on them by emitting a gas. Trees detecting this gas signal will send a distasteful chemical to their leaves which will cause the Giraffes to eat elsewhere.
- Offspring trees in the wild will often continue to fee the roots of their parents, often for many decades or centuries after the parent tree above ground has died.
- In droughts, trees send precious moisture down their roots and into the ground to protect the beneficial bacteria and fungi that live near tree roots and provide important nutrients to the tree.
- Tree fruit is full of healthy phyto-nutrients, and if the fruit is eaten whole, it doesn’t cause a sugar rush because the fiber in the fruit slows down the sugar absorption.
Another fun part of planning to plant fruit trees is that there are hundreds of interesting varieties, each with its own ripening time, so you can pick different trees with different fruit that ripens at different times. Or you can even buy “fruit salad” trees that have 4 or more different fruits all growing on the same tree. How cool is that?! They can even easily be kept small by annual pruning and therefore grown in even small areas, such as a 5 foot by 5 foot space.
Four trees can be planted together, so 4 types of fruit can be grown in one spot, or plant a "fruit salad" tree
Most fruit trees are available in bare root form from local nurseries in January and February, and they can be ordered in advance. Trees are also available that are growing in pots. Either type is easy to plant. Basically, just dig a hole and loosen the soil in a 3 foot circle around the tree, plant it and add a drip line around the tree for use during the summer. Here is a good site with information on growing fruit trees in your backyard. http://www.davewilson.com/home-gardens/backyard-orchard-culture
And here’s a fun page showing different fruit varieties and harvest timing. For our backyard fruit trees we selected varieties that ripen at different times and now have ripe fruit available nearly straight through from April until December! http://www.davewilson.com/sites/default/files/fruit_nut_chart_hg_2010.pdf
Prune your trees once or twice a year to keep them small and manageable
If you already have fruit trees and have too much fruit, contact Urban Farmers, a local non-profit that will arrange to have your fruit harvested by local volunteers, and donated to a local food bank. https://www.theurbanfarmers.org/