Tips for Growing Fruit Trees
Garden Clippings for May 23, 2020
If it is edible, it will sell.
Without a doubt, 2020 will come down as the most memorable year ever. In the nursery business 2020 will be marked, among other things, as the year of edibles. Food crops are flying off the shelves almost as quickly as toilet paper was a few weeks ago. Everything from seed potatos to tomato plants, to blueberries are in high demand.
Growing fruit trees is a smart way to satisfy taste buds and cut down on the grocery bill. Fruit trees are easy to grow but require effort in order to gain fruit that is as picture perfect as what can be found in the produce aisle.
Apple trees are very hardy and will grow easily anywhere in Ontario, except for the far North. You will need two different varieties of apple trees in order to fill the trees’ pollinating needs. If you live in the city, you can expect another neighborhood apple tree to pollinate your tree. For those who have limited space, try the novelty 5 in one apple tree, where 5 apple varieties are grafted on a single tree.
To produce beautiful apples, you will need to undertake a faithful pruning and spraying program. Apple trees are notorious for getting apple scab fungus along with a variety of worms and insects. For homeowners, your best defense against pests is an application of environmentally friendly lime sulfur with dormant oil spray applied in spring before leaves and flowers appear.
Pruning apple trees will result in healthier and stronger fruit. Commercial fruit tree growers are diligent in pruning apple trees in late spring to improve fall harvest. Pruning to encourage branching to go outward rather than upward gives growing fruit more exposure to wind and sun.
Pear trees are equally easy to grow and are a little less vulnerable to pests than apple trees. And like apples, need a pollinator of another variety. Pear trees generally grow larger than apples. ‘Bartlett’ is the most popular type, producing sweet fruit with yellow skin. For best results, pick pears a week or two before they are ripe.
Peaches and nectarines are satisfying to grow because they are quick to produce fruit a year or two after planting. But the long-term viability of peach trees is not assured, as most trees will succumb to disease in 10 to 15 years. Peaches and nectarines are not as tough as pears and apples, and growers are often nervous about a late frost damaging blooms. Peaches and nectarines are self-pollinating so there is no need to plant in pairs.
Growing your own cherry trees will reward you with great taste and a thinner wallet. Cherries are expensive because picking is labour intensive. Sweet cherries such as the popular ‘Vista’ and ‘Van’ are not self-pollinating while sour cherries are fine on their own. Birds love cherries so it may be wise to put a nylon net over the tree to protect ripening fruit.
Plums and prunes have similar growth habits to peaches and nectarines. Most varieties are self-pollinating and are prolific producers. Like all fruit trees, pruning is beneficial and spraying with dormant spray is important.