Monday, September 20, 2010

Fruit and yardwork

I wanted to take a moment to talk about growing your own fruit. Unfortunately, a lot of people have written of the persuit of cultivating their own produce and fruit. After spending the last few years learning about general gardening and implementing that knowledge into garden plants and fruit trees I have a few pointers for those who care to listen.

Fresh fruit is awesome. You simply can not buy the greatness of picking your own fresh fruit or produce. This is why U-pick-it farms and road side stands sell. The fruit and produce that you purchase from the market usually have been in the transport cycle for a while (with bananas a good long time as they pick them very green and ship them off). Here is the trifecta of fruiting goodness from my garden. Raspberries (yellow here), Grapes (training on the wire trellis), and apples (young tree in back).

Fruit can yield an abundant harvest. For most people it may not be entirely desirable to have a few bushels of fruit and for these people some brilliant people have used a hardy root stock and grafted smaller trees to mark dwarf trees. These cute little trees will product full sized fruit in smaller, more manageable quantities. However, what ever you choose allows you the opportunity to make new friends by sharing your produce. Additionally, I think we all know a few college kids, young mothers, or neighbors who could use some help or encouragement. This heritage pear tree yields consitantly large crops of firm pears with virtually no effort. If anyone can help me identify the actual species please contact me.

Fruit can reduce your expenses. Everyone knows the ancient adage about apples and doctors, however, how about simply making small improvements in your health by have more fresh fruit and less processed foods. This will increase your health and reduce medical costs, additionally, a well planted raspberry patch or fruit tree can be accomplished which gives many years of fresh fruit for the very little cost. Our red raspberries, cost about $20 and now yields more than 4 gallons of raspberries per year, the only work I do is to mow it down every fall and water it a couple times during the driest parts of the summer. These grapes cost about $60 and should yield about 20-50 gallons per year.

There is a myriad of so called experts out there who will try and sell you on their system. I will not suggest that I have attained all wisdom here, although I will throw in my two cents. My suggestions are as follows:
1. Keep things low maintenance. Stick with hardy, disease and drought resistant plants.
2. Start simple. Do not buy $700 of plants if you have never planted tulip.
3. Experiment with what works well for you.
4. Educate yourself. I have a few books I recommend for the new initiate that can contribute well to ones overall understanding (Gardening without work: Ruth Stout, From Vines to wines: Jeff Cox, Square foot gardening: Mel Bartholomew, are three I can think of quickly)

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