For many people, food storage is a big part of preparedness. And most often, this will also lead to vegetable gardening. Because vegetable gardening has already been discussed briefly in a previous blog, I thought I'd touch on another part of gardening that isn't discussed as often as it should be... fruit trees, vines and bushes.
First of all, one of the easiest home produced foods come from your fruit trees. Although they do need care in planting, fertilizing, watering and pruning, it is far less work than a vegetable garden. For the most part, you plant, water once a week (depending on the tree and your location), prune once or twice a year, fertilized once or twice a year and that's about it. And from this many trees produce fruit in as little as a year or two, although some may take longer.
Then there are plants like grape vines, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, etc. There are so many different varieties of each of these that there is something for almost any climate in the United States. For instance, even in the hot Phoenix, Arizona area, Thompson seedless grapes thrive. There are also blackberries, raspberries and blueberries that do well in Zone 9 climates. And if you live in a cooler location, the varieties are even more plentiful. All that is needed is some simple, basic planning and a little effort and you can enjoy plenty of produce right from your yard.
Some things to consider when planning your fruit trees and berry bushes...
- What kinds of fruit and berries do well in your climate?
- Do they require full sun or partial sun? (in Phoenix, full sun actually means part sun for many plants)
- Are they self pollinating or are more than one tree required to cross pollinate for production of fruit/berries?
- How big do they get? (Dwarf, Semi-Dwarf, Full-Sized, Giant, etc.)
- Are they vines that need wire or trellis to grow along or are they bushes?
Some other things to consider in becoming more self-sufficient are when your trees and bushes will produce fruit. Try to find species of plants that produce at different times of the year, giving a steady supply of fruits and berries. This will eliminate the feast or famine yield. For instance, when planning our orange trees, we picked 2 different orange trees that produced fruit at opposite times of the year. So when they start producing, we should have fruit all throughout the year. Plan accordingly and you'll have a steady harvest throughout most of the year.
Even a modest yard can produce many varieties of foods. Instead of ornamental non-fruit producing trees, think about what kinds you'd like, what size would fit and plant something that gives back. Plant useful plants and trees. Find various uses and benefits for using their fruit, learn to cook with them, store them and share them with others. And then get others to do the same! Maybe even plan to plant different types of trees so you can trade fruit.
This year, our family has a goal to add at least one tree to our yard every month of the year. Although we have started with a few and have recently planted a few, we'd like to still keep this goal. Every month we'll be planting something. So far we have a grapefruit tree, lemon tree, two orange trees, peach tree, grape vine, blackberries, several raspberry varieties, a couple blueberries and then our vegetable garden. We are still wanting to add some more dwarf orange varieties (these are very small and can fit just about anywhere... most of our trees are semi-dwarf and get between 10 to 20 feet tall). We would also like a plumb tree, apple tree, fig tree, pomegranate tree and a couple other small varieties. Doing this may require removing some non-producing trees and rearranging some landscaping, but we feel it'll be worth it when the harvest comes.
So where do you find these trees? Pretty much anywhere when it's planting season. Usually the best root stock can be found at nurseries. But you can also find them at Walmart, Costco, Sam's Club and other locations. We have bought from all these locations. And the cost for us has started at $5 on up. Just don't try to plant citrus trees from seeds because grafting is a critical part of a strong, healthy, high producing, good quality tree. And that's another subject for another blog. And at the end of the planting season, you can often get large trees for just a few dollars. It may not be the optimal time to plant, but it will still work and be much cheaper.
And if you don't have a yard, get a planting pot and plant some of the bushes and smaller varieties on your porch. No excuses!
It's been said that the best time to plant fruit trees was 10 years ago. The second best time is today.
What kinds of things would you like to have produced in your back yard? Stop thinking about it and just do it! Have fun!
Enjoy the journey!