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Monday, August 16, 2010

Tree Talk

As Marisa and I anticipate getting a new bigger property we have started to plan what we want to grow. We want a lot of what we had on our smaller backyard farm. A vegetable garden, strawberries, raspberries, chickens, and medicinal herbs. We just want more variety and bigger plots of these things. We also look forward to delving into new areas of farming that we have never tried. We are excited to have bees, goats, rabbits, and fruit trees.
(image is of Maya and her best friend swinging on a dwarf tree, other dwarf trees are in the background, I believe they are Red Haven Peach Trees)

We have never had fruit trees and we are starting to do some research into what kind of trees we want to get. We have learned a lot of interesting things but we are still novices. Here are a few things that I found interesting.

Did you know that apples, pears, quinces, cherries, peaches nectarines, apricots, plums, damsons, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, and the rose all belong to the same family? They are all part of the plant family Rosaceae. Don't ask me how to pronounce this. They are divided into sub groups that include those that have stone fruits, like cherries, and plums, those that have berries like raspberries and strawberries; and pomes which include apples and pears.

Did you know that if you plan it right you can have the same types of trees that bear fruit at different times of the year. For example, there are some apples that bear fruit in the late spring and other apples bear fruit in the fall.

Did you know that most varieties of fruit will not breed true from seed. Instead, cuttings from a fruit bearing tree (called the scion) are usually grafted onto a rootstock. The rootstock is a different tissue type than the scion, and the root and the branches grow together but remain biologically different.

Did you know that some fruit bearing trees are full size, but you can also grow dwarf or semi dwarf trees? The dwarf trees are smaller and take up less space on a smaller property. You can grow many varieties of dwarf trees only 6 feet apart from each other. Marisa and I think we might want to raise a small orchard of dwarf trees.

Do any of you have experience growing fruit trees? What advice would you give us as we start the process of planning what types of trees to get for our property. We probably won't start until next spring but it's never too early to begin learning about it.


Wendy said...

I don't have a lot of experience growing fruit trees ... successfully, that is, which is why my only piece of advice is to carefully research the variety of tree that will do best in your area. We planted peach trees (I'm in Maine, by the way) when we first bought our house, and while there are some places that grow peaches in Maine, mostly peaches don't grow here. It's too cold, and the cold damages the trees, inviting in all manner of pestilence and disease.

We're switching to apples, and because we have such a limited space, we'll be using the espalier technique.


1. Start w/ excellent soil. Amend as necessary.
2. Install irrigation system to make the best use of your resources (water & your time).
3. Consider orchard location when choosing tree types. Powerlines, property lines, and structures play into this.
4. Espalier pruning makes for an interesting orchard and can result in healthier trees due to the fact the trees need to be maintained regularly.
5. Dormant oil spray. This is a must to keep borers out of your stock.
6. Plant bare root stock. This saves you tons of money. Purchase from a local nursery that you trust.
7. Collect loads of canning supplies. You'll be increasing your pantry inventory within a couple of years.

Good luck.

Rachel said...

Rosaceae is pronounced Rose-ay-see-ay. :)
We have 24 fruit trees on our 1/4 acre. Most of them are dwarfs. What makes most trees dwarfs is that they are on dwarf rootstock.

What makes the seed not the same as the adult is interesting. Most fruit trees are not self-fruitful, meaning they need another variety to pollinate them. Because trees of one variety are propagated with cuttings they are all genetically the same so a Granny Smith apple cannot pollinate another Granny Smith apple. Pollinating it with another variety brings in new genetics, thus changing the offspring.

Did you also know that there was once several thousand varieties of apple? Now there are very few because they've been lost.

If you have any questions feel free to email me at dogislandfarm at gmail dot com. I'd be more than happy to help you determine the best layout (I work in Landscape Architecture so masterplans are what I do).

Karen said...

I have some information for you guys on what fruit tress grow well in this area from the garden talks. I think you'll find it really helpful.

Mike said...

Great information. I love having this blog because we get so many great suggestions and help.

Jamie said...

I hope when you learn more you'll post a blog about it. I want to know more about fruit trees, but I don't even know where to start.

Alice said...

If you haven't planted fruit trees yet, you may find this useful:


We planted 8 fruit trees at our old house, which had a .16 acre lot.