Vegetables aren’t the only foods that can grow successfully in your backyard. Both vegetables and fruits provide us with essential vitamins and nutrients that work together to keep our bodies healthy and strong. Planting a mix of both can give you optimal sustainability in your garden.
There is nothing better than fresh-picked produce. With a little bit of time, planning, and maintenance, you can create a vibrant fruit garden that will produce a robust fruit harvest that you will be proud of. Follow these tips on how to start a fruit garden right in your own backyard.
Soil Composition and pH
Make sure that your garden soil is amended with rich organic matter and well-decomposed compost. Fruit plants, bushes, and trees thrive best nutrient-rich, well-draining soil.
When it comes to pH, the ideal acidity level can vary significantly between different fruit varieties. It is best to test your soil and check your plants for their individual pH needs. Group plants with similar pH parameters together and amend the soil in each bed according to plant requirements.
Proper Sunlight and Utilization of Shade
Ensure that you select a garden area in your yard that receives a minimum of six hours of sunlight for the best success in growing a fruit garden. If you have shadier spots in the yard that only receive partial sun, utilize that space by growing fruits that can tolerate those conditions such as rhubarb, plums, currants, kiwis, and pears.
Provide Adequate Shelter for Fruit-Bearing Plants and Trees
It is vital to the survival of fruit plants and trees that you provide sufficient shelter in the garden from harsh winds and extreme temperatures. Fruit-bearing plants and trees need to be able to flower and receive pollination in order effectively to produce fruit. Walls, fences, and hedges can help to give a fruit garden some degree of protection from the elements.
Decide What to Grow
Choose a mix of annual and perennial plants for the best overall sustainability in your fruit garden. Pay attention to the fruit harvest times and vary them in your garden so that you are not harvesting all of the fruits in your garden at once. Choose a balanced mix of early, mid, and late-season varieties.
Watermelons, cantaloupe, pineapple, strawberries, grapevines, kiwis, kumquats, oranges, lemons, limes, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, peach pear apple trees, cherry trees, and mango trees, are all great options for your fruit garden depending on your grow zone. There are many varieties within each category as well, so your options are vast.
Plants, Bare-Roots, or Seeds
You can start your fruit garden with plants, bare-roots, or seeds. You can even use all three varieties in your fruit garden so that you can ensure the early establishment of fruit-bearing trees, bushes, and plants in your garden.
Plants are convenient to purchase from your local garden center. They cost a bit more than seeds or bare-root plants, but they are already established and prepped for planting.
Some fruit plants are available in the bare-root form, where the root is packed in a sawdust or peat material. They are less expensive than those that are potted in containers, and because they don’t have soil, they are lightweight and easy to carry. You might be able to find more varieties of bare root plants because they only take up a small space on garden center shelves. Traditionally, you can get them into your garden sooner than potted plants which are sold later in the season at garden centers. Berry bushes, fruit trees, grapes, and strawberries are commonly sold in bare-root form.
Fruit garden varieties can also be planted from seeds. Many fruit varieties will take a very long time to establish themselves from seeds, but it can be done. Some fruit plants like watermelon, melon, and cantaloupe actually prefer to be directly sown into the garden. Other seeds like strawberry seeds should be started early indoors.
Plant a Mix of Fruit-Bearing Annuals and Perennials
Incorporating perennial fruit producers can be a vital way of creating a continual fruit-bearing oasis in your garden. Perennials have a long lifespan and come back stronger every year to produce more robust harvests. Annual plantings are finished in one growing season. Here are some reasons why it’s a great idea to add perennial fruit plants to your garden in addition to annual fruit-producing favorites.
- Perennial plants increase the abundance of food that your garden can produce. Perennials are the first foods to pop up and deliver a yield in a garden and can also produce for a longer stretch than annuals.
- Perennial plants are less work to grow. You don’t have to plant and nurture them every year. They will thrive with basic maintenance.
- Perennials require much less water than annuals do because their roots penetrate deeper and deeper every year.
- Because they have more extensive root systems, they can gather beneficial nutrients from the soil more than annuals can. They also bring these nutrients closer to the surface of the Earth, which helps their annual garden mates.
- Perennials improve the structure of the soil. When a perennial plant dies back each year, beneficial nutrients are released back into the ground, which mimics nature. The roots that stay intact also help to prevent erosion in the garden.
Plant Trees and Bushes
Plant trees and bushes in your fruit garden for a boost in fruit production and to improve the sustainability of your garden. Fruit producing trees and bushes can enhance the quality of air via photosynthesis, store carbon from the atmosphere, and provide a permanent rotation of food to your garden. The presence of trees can positively impact water conservation as well, as the shade they provide allows water to evaporate more slowly from garden vegetation.
Some perennial favorites include blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, pear trees, apple trees, cherry trees, mango trees, and citrus trees. They may take a couple of years to mature, but once fully grown, you will have tons of harvest that you can rely on year after year.
Adding mulch to your fruit garden can help in a couple of ways. First, mulching helps to retain moisture in the garden bed and around fruit trees. It also helps to combat weeds, which can steal precious water and nutrients from the fruit trees, which need both to thrive. Add mulching to your fruit garden regimen to help ensure that your fruit trees, bushes, and plants receive enough vital water and nutrients.
It is crucial for the production of fruit that plants, trees, and bushes receive enough water throughout the growing season. Fruit-bearing plants and trees will not thrive well in heavily saturated areas where water pools up. Fruits plants will also not thrive if conditions are too dry. If you have dry conditions in your yard, or are not going to be able to water your fruit garden regularly, consider installing a drip irrigation system.
Protect your Harvest from Wildlife
Local wildlife will be just as excited about the fruits of your labor as you are, so it is critical to protect your crops from munching critters. Row covers, crop cages, secured netting, and garden fencing can help to shield your succulent fruit crop from squirrels, deer, rabbits, woodchucks, birds, and other wildlife.