Picking, and eating, fresh fruit from your home garden is a special treat. 2016 was an exceptional year for our Fraser Valley fruit with clean, disease-free apples, strawberries and figs. The hobby farm super blueberries, as always, were plentiful and tasty. The 2015 growing season was very dry but last year with the high spring rainfall the crop was remarkable in taste, size and abundance. I am not an expert and am basically self-taught when it comes to growing and pruning trees and encourage anyone who has a few square feet of dirt, or a patio to grow a fruit tree or two in a pot, to do so. There is simply no comparison to the quality and flavour of freshly picked fruit and there is still time to plant a couple of trees this summer or fall.
Fruit trees to Grow at Home
As we have limited space in our garden we only grow the fruits we enjoy the most. Here are my top 3 picks to grow at home.
Simply, choose a variety to grow that you like to eat, such as Gala. A dwarf tree or espalier with multiple varieties can produce different varieties of apples ripening at different times.
Our apple trees are not disease-free but manageable and this year the fruit is clean and bountiful and it has been good to share fruit with friends, neighbours and family
The red apple variety is juicy and crunchy and have been used to make a quick sweet apple sauce and they are superb just picked. The green apples make the most incredibly delicious apple pies and strudel which disappear very quickly. Super desserts when served with a little plain yoghurt ice cream.
Canned apple sauce is used in home cooking and baking such as pear mince muffins. Homemade apple sauce made without added sugar is low in calories, carbohydrates and sugars and a good source of fibre and Vitamin C.
Raw Apple Nutrition: Low in calories and high in potassium, fibre, Vitamins A and C.
"Eat an apple on going to bed,
and you'll keep the doctor from earning his bread."
~ Welsh proverb ~1860s
This is always a first choice fruit to grow and eat. If you have a flower garden and no room for vegetables consider a border of strawberry plants which are both decorative and manageable. We have about 100 plants, mostly ever-bearing variety which produce until the frosty weather arrives or the snow flies. Over the years our strawberries have been problem free and do not need added chemicals.
Strawberry nutrition information from USDA - high in Vitamin C, folate and fibre as well as vitamin B-6 and other minerals.
There is renewed interest in the traditional fig tree for a number of reasons including climate change. It is the least demanding of all fruit trees and seems to grow and produce abundantly in spite of how it is treated. This is another first choice fruit to grow as the only way to eat them is freshly picked, when ripe from the tree.
Our fig trees are self propagated, grown in pots and one was planted in the garden last year. It has grown quite large this year and is producing about 50 or 60 giant sweet figs this summer (of 2016). In the early spring (of 2017) before the tree had leaves we counted over 160 small figs on the tree. Amazing. Fig trees will grow as large as its extensive root system so some growers plant them in large containers in the soil to restrict root growth and do not need to prune the trees. Check your climate zone. Fig trees may need protection from wind and cold in our winter.
Fig nutrition: Figs are high in potassium, Vitamin A, fibre and simply another healthy food to eat fresh ~ with no added chemicals
Regular Care - Growing All Fruit
- Start with good soil. When planting new fruit trees in containers or outside dig a very large hole (at least twice pot size) and fill with rotted compost and soil.
- Coffee grounds have become a recent addition to my compost and mulching regime
- Mulch the trees once a year, preferably twice, with rotted organic compost
Chemicals and antibiotics in our commercially grown fruit and vegetables often results in residuals in our food. Not using commercial chemicals on our trees and bushes is important and the only product we use in winter is dormant oil. Check out the pesticide residuals in fruit and vegetables on the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 list updated each year. Both apples and strawberries are at the top of the Dirty Dozen pesticide residual list. Again, a great reason to grow your own fruit.
Old Fashioned Rhubarb:
This easy care fruit is most beneficial as it can be neglected and still grows many stalks. Rhubarb can be used with other fruit in jam making or baking such as "berry" fruit pies. Try it as a delicious dessert, cooked with a little sugar or stevia and cinnamon with Greek yoghurt and flaked dark chocolate.
Grow a fruit tree in your home garden & enjoy the benefits of fresh tasty fruit each season with the bonus of healthy produce for you & your family. Happy gardening!
Links & References:
More fruits for you to consider growing: