Growing fruit at home is a great way to make use of your land and enjoy in-season fruit!
5 Quick Tips for getting the most out of your home fruit growing:
- Pollination: Plant 2 varieties within a species to get cross-pollination (Jonafree with Liberty, for example). Or attract pollinators by planting fruit companions such as these. Short on space? Carol Stocker of the Boston Globe suggests simply putting a blooming branch clipping from a crab apple tree in a jar of water at the base of your tree.
- Going organic? Plant natives like Sassafrass to attract birds and beneficial bugs that will eat up orchard pests.
- Thinning: If you’re serious about getting fruit, thin any clusters of tiny apples to get a smaller number of good sized apples.
- Prevent predators: Put a net over berries when the fruit is small to keep birds away.
- Use it up! You probably won’t get perfect-looking fruit all the time, so don’t forget about using oddly shaped apples and the like in cooking. It’s the taste that matters, right? And if you do get a rotten apple, let it enrich your compost!
Wondering what to grow? Consider starting with blueberry and thornless raspberry bushes. They’re both great, easy plants for smaller spaces. Blueberry shrubs, in particular, are attractive landscape plants, in addition to their fruit.
Asian pear trees and cherry trees both do well in our region and tend to have less problems with disease. While no pear varieties are truly resistant to fire blight, some, like Shinko, are better than others, not to mention delicious! Sour cherries tend to grow better in our region; North Star is a great self-pollinating variety. If you really want to try sweet cherries go for Black Golds or Lapins, which are also self-pollinating.
Yes, apple trees do very well in our climate. Keep in mind though that both peach and apple trees are typically more susceptible to diseases than other fruit trees. Here are several delicious and disease-resistant apple varieties, which are especially helpful if you don’t want to use pesticides:
- Liberty- similar to a McIntosh, both tart and sweet
- Honeycrisp- sweet
- Crimson Crisp- spicy and sweet (pictured at top)
- Topaz- fragrant and juicy
- Cox’s Orange Pippin- a delicious dessert apple
- Roxbury Russet- probably America’s oldest apple variety; sweet and complex
For more info, check out these Fruit Tree Guidelines from Weston Nurseries.