Eat Local, Backyard Local

Think about walking into your backyard and picking a juicy, crisp apple. Imagine the smiles on your children as their fingers turn purple from picking plump blackberries (the thornless type of course). It’s a great experience to visit your local farmer’s market, but its an even greater thrill to go into your own backyard and pick your own food. Nothing beats the taste of fresh picked fruit not to mention its more nutritious, chemical free, and environmentally friendly.

So I know what you are thinking, sure it sounds great, but I don’t live on a farm and I have a blackthumb. Growing fruit trees and plants is very easy. You don’t even have to have a big yard. Strawberries can be grown in a flower pot, although postpone flower pot growing until spring.
Fall is the best time to plant trees and perrenial plants. The roots grow all winter and have plenty on time to get the plant established before the summer heat arrives.

Your first stop is your local garden center. It is the best place to buy a fruit tree or a berry plant. The garden center staff should be able to help you find a variety of fruit that grows well in your area (a.k.a. doesn’t die during the winter). They will also help you determine the amount of room you need to grow your fruit of choice. Today that tree may look small, but ten years down the road it could be ten feet tall and ten feet wide. So let them help you plan accordingly.

If you go to a discount store or hardware store please do research before you buy your plant! I was going to purchase some pear trees last fall. I wrote down the variety names and looked them up on the internet to make sure they would be hardy for my area. Both pear trees would have been great if I lived two states to the south. So don’t just assume the plants will grow in your area.

Another source of fruit trees and plants are mail order companies. There are several reputable companies out there. Even though they arrive bare root and look like little sticks with a couple of roots hanging off them, they are a good choice.pear

When buying fruit trees, I check to make sure the tree trunk is healthy. I didn’t say straight, I said healthy. Make sure there are not cuts or pieces of bark missing. The tree will be more likely to get diseased and die within a few years.

Some easy to grow plants are raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, grapes (although they will need a trellis or something to grow up), rhubarb, apple trees, pear trees, or plum trees.

Bottom line make sure the trees or plants are cold hardy for your area. Make sure the trunks or stems are healthy, without damage.

I can just taste those raspberries now!

written by, Shannon Ulrich, Horticulturist


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