Fruit Trees and Vines
By MG Calla
And the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:12
It is a wonderful thing when you can go out and harvest fresh fruit from trees and vines in your own backyard. And with produce prices ever-climbing, growing your own fruit is definitely a plus. Therefore edible gardening has gained a lot of interest in recent years. Now before you dash out and hit up your favorite garden center for fruit trees and such, there are few caveats to consider.
It is important to do a little research before purchasing fruit trees. Citrus trees and pineapple plants take at least two years to set fruit. Avocado trees take seven years to set fruit. In order for blueberries to grow it is necessary to have at least two blueberry bushes, the same is true for Passion Fruit vines; and to grow apples two different apple cultivars are needed to ensure adequate pollination. With that bit of knowledge under your belt consider carefully your plant selections, if yours is a small yard perhaps growing apples may not be a good move for you because of space constraints.
The best rule of thumb with all fruit-bearing trees is to buy a tree with fruit on them, then you know that the tree has matured to the fruit-bearing phase. Case in point, back in 2007 I purchased a small lemon tree sapling. It was barely 3 feet tall but it had a lemon on it, that tree has produced and performed every single year. Then in 2008 I purchased an orange tree and mandarin tree, neither of which had fruit on them. Neither tree started bearing until 2013, just as I was about to dig them up and toss them. When you buy your citrus trees by all means also purchase the citrus fertilizer spikes. Jab one of the citrus spikes in the ground next to each tree and they fertilize your trees for an entire year. Also never plant your fruit trees in a windy area of your yard but in a somewhat sheltered area because the fruit grows out of the blooms on your trees. If the tree is in a windy area the delicate blooms will be blown off of your tree, and no blooms means no fruit.
Know that patience is a must when growing fruit as the older your tree or vine is the more fruit it will produce. The very first year that your trees set fruit the amount of your harvest will be negligible. I remember the first year that my pomegranate tree set fruit got a measly five pomegranates and they were quite small. The same was true when my fig tree first set fruit, I got a mere twenty figs and the birds got most them. Also be advised that fig trees grow very wide as well as tall. In the last couple of years I have had to invite neighbors over to help me harvest all of the figs. The same is true with my lemon, Meyer lemon, orange, and mandarin orange trees. Last year I even called the Citrus Tree Harvesting Company to harvest the remaining fruit so that it could be donated to First Harvest Food Bank. They harvested 23 pounds of citrus from my trees. Your fruit bearing plant material is going to yield tons more produce than you and your family can eat. You can squeeze your citrus juice into plastic containers and freeze them, or freeze the juice in ice trays, share your bounty with your friends and neighbors, or sell it. One little trick to remember is to always leave at a couple of fruit on each tree, and you will always have fruit growing.
Vines take up a lot of space so prepare for that, and some sort of trellis is required to support climbing vines like grapes, or passion fruit. The perfect place to plant a climbing vine is alongside of a page wire fence. The fence serves as a support for the vine as opposed to having to buy or build a trellis, and the vine completely covers the fence creating privacy for your yard. Watermelon vines are massive and can engulf a yard. I planted three little watermelon seeds one year and those vines took up over 1/3 of my huge 60 feet by 90 feet backyard, but it was so gratifying to look out in my yard and see watermelons everywhere. Grape vines also can be crazy but the yield is sweet!
Check out my “Gardening Tip of the Week.”
This article was published in the August 23, 2014 edition of Data News Weekly and posted on ladatanews.com