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Fruit growing in your yard is the ultimate in convenience food, just hanging there waiting for you to pick and eat. Of course, the best tasting fruit is always the kind you pop in your mouth straight from the vine or tree, a freshness like no other.
So is should come as no surprise that homegrown fruit is far superior to that bought from the grocery store because it is fresher and does not have to travel. Not to mention, you always know what has been put on the fruit (fertilizers, pesticides, etc.). Once considered as taking up too much space, fruit trees are now available in dwarf cultivars and can even be grown in containers. Even though fruit can be one of the most enjoyable crops in the garden, it is probably the most neglected. Below we have come up with a few tips to help you have fruit success!
When to Plant?
The best time to plant fruit trees, bushes and berries is between late autumn and mid spring. Plant to the same depth as they were in their pots. Since your plant will likely remain in the ground for a long time, it is important to thoroughly prepare the soil so it is in the best condition possible. Make sure to incorporate plenty of organic material under the roots of the plant; this will help keep the soil moist as well as give a continuous supply of nutrients until the plants are established.
A large range of organic soil conditioners are available; stop by Fairview and ask an associate for assistance picking out the right conditioner for your project. Keep plants watered in dry weather until firmly established. Mulch applied around the base of the plants will preserve moisture and keep weeds away.
When to Harvest?
Harvest your fruit when properly ripe. It will always ripen better on the stem. Fruit that is to be stored should be picked just a little before their peak ripeness. Fruit can be kept for up to twelve months after preservation in jams, jellies or freezing.
Strawberries are one of the best loved fruits. There is nothing quite like popping a juicy and “warm-from-the-sun” strawberry into your mouth. The best part?: They are not difficult to grow! They can be grown in pots, hanging baskets, towers or planted directly in a garden bed. The plants will remain productive for only about three years, so after the second or third year of fruiting, newly rooted plants should be dug and cut from runners to be planted in a different location. What are runners, you ask? After fruiting, strawberries send out runners which will drop roots at intervals along their length to produce new plants.
Strawberries like an open, sunny location with well drained soil. They should be planted in fall or early spring, about fifteen inches apart. Place straw or mulch under the leaves to keep the fruit off the ground where they will get dirty and rot. Cut off all leaves after fruiting and destroy to remove any pests or diseases. Remove any runners unless you want to keep new plants. Birds and slugs are their main pests. Netting can shield against birds.
Strawberries are categorized by their time of fruiting such as “early,” “mid-season,” “late” or “everbearing.” Everbearing produce fruit in the spring, have a break and then start again in the autumn. Fairview will carry the Sequioa strawberry; this is an everbearing variety with a spring and fall crop. These large plants make few runners and small, firm berries that are excellent for eating fresh or freezing.
Blueberries have become popular in landscapes and gardens. The rich, fruity flavor of blueberries make it a delicious, edible and decorative addition. They grow well in acidic soil conditions. Plant in a sunny area, although they can tolerate some light shade. Pruning can be done in winter or very early spring but do not prune until the bush has become mature enough to produce fruit. Fruiting occurs on second or third year wood, so only cut out dead or weak limbs. Blueberries are usually trouble free and their worst pests are birds. A bit of netting can take care of this! At least two different varieties should be planted to cross pollinate for optimum production of berries.
When freezing blueberries to keep for later use, remove stems and put in freezer container. Do not wash until you are ready to use them. This prevents them from sticking together in one big clump and you can shake out only as many as you want to use.
Figs are among the easiest of fruit trees to grow as they require very little maintenance. They need a sunny site with well drained soil. They should be in an area that is protected from cold winter winds. A northern exposure keeps your fig tree dormant until it is time for it to bud. Fertilize annually with a general purpose fertilizer when buds swell in late spring.
They do not require pruning but if needed, prune in late winter before growth begins. Figs need to ripen on the tree, so pick them when soft. Once picked, they will stop ripening and will keep about four days to a week refrigerated. Figs are loaded with fiber, vitamins and minerals. The fig tree is a beautiful ornamental with silvery bark and large leaves; the branches age with a twisted, sculptured look. Wear gloves and long sleeves when harvesting to prevent skin irritation from the fig latex.
When planning your landscape, remember that shrubs and trees do not have to be solely ornamental, they can supply you with delicious treats. One of the great joys of life is fresh fruit straight from the plant. Consider a blueberry border or a fig tree as a focal point. It will be a great conversation piece as well as a food source. Come toFairviewGardenCenterto check out our stock and get advice for your specific needs.