Monday, January 13, 2014

Growing Your Own Fruit

 This post is part of the series: The Ultimate Guide to Planning Your Homestead.  If you missed the other posts in this series, you can get caught up here. If you're looking for some great resources for planning your homestead, check out some of the books here.

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Growing your own fruit bushes, trees and plants will add variety to your garden. Most fruit crops take at least a year to start producing. If you are willing to wait, fruit crops will reward you with delicious fruit year after year.

Site Selection for Fruit Crops

Just like growing vegetables, it is important to choose the right location for growing fruit. Many
How we see it Our vegetable garden is located right in our backyard where we can see it and enjoy it. The first year we made the mistake of going too big too soon. I was pregnant with our third child and couldn’t keep up with the weeds in the large number of raised beds. We also made the mistake of crowding our crops, and felt the pressure to plant every seed in each seed pack. Needless to say, we ended up with too much of lots of things, over crowed plants, and a lot of weeds. The next year we still added more beds, but used mulch and planted a wider variety of crops, and had much greater success.

Fruit trees are loaded with flowers in the spring and colorful leaves and fruit in the fall. These trees and bushes can be attractive as well as useful and can be incorporated into existed landscaping. When choosing a site for your fruit bushes, trees and plants, consider the following:

• To maximize your fruit output, choose a location that receives full sun (6+ hours a day)

• Enrich your soil prior to planting your fruit crops - since the are perennial, it is hard to change the soil after planting and so enhancing the soil is worth the initial investment

• Remember that trees and bushes will grow much larger - plant them based on their full grown size

Choosing Crops

Unlike your vegetables, which you can change from year to year, fruit crops are perennial and in some cases will last a lifetime. It is important to think carefully about which crops to plant before you start. Similar to when you start a vegetable garden, begin small and add more each year as you learn what works for you and your space and what doesn’t. When choosing fruit crops, keep these thoughts in mind:

• Whatever else you plant, consider starting with some strawberries or brambles as these will produce fruit as quickly as the second year

• Select fruit trees and bushes that are appropriate for your zone and space

• If you have limited space, plant dwarf trees. These will also reward you with a quicker harvest

• Many trees, such as some apple trees, require other trees to successfully pollinate - make sure you check carefully before planting only one tree

• Consider some of the lesser known fruits such as elderberry, quince, hardy kiwi, and currants

Over the next few months, I will be exploring the opportunities available to the homesteader and offering thoughts on how to set goals and gain a focus on what you want on your homestead.  Many of these thoughts are already available in my ebook: The Modern Homestead, but I invite you to follow along here and on my Facebook page for a deeper look into ideas and thoughts on creating your dream homestead.You can also find a wealth of information at the tabs at the top of the blog about gardening, raising animals, and learning new homesteading skills.  If you're looking for experience and examples, check out the Homestead Highlight series for first hand accounts from homesteaders.

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