There’s no two ways about it: adding perennial fruit crops to your garden is a commitment. If you’ve never grown fruit before you might be less confident, and fruiting plants require long-term planning and care. And yet, I find it to be one of the most enjoyable and rewarding aspects of my garden. Wondering why? Well, let me tell you:
・Grocery store fruit is expensive, and shipped from far away. It’s a win-win when I can save money and cut down on my carbon footprint, all with one plant!
・Commercially grown fruit is picked before it’s ripe. In order to elongate time on grocery store shelves and accommodate long shipping routes, the fruit you find in the grocery store is picked before it is ripe, compromising the nutritional value. When you grow in your home garden, you can pick and enjoy your fruits and the height of their nutritional density.
・Higher quality, better taste. There’s really no comparison; fresh-picked, home-grown fruits just taste better. And you can avoid the bruises and imperfections on your fruit that often come from shipping and being picked over by customers in stores. And while store-bought fruit is often contaminated with residues from harmful pesticides and chemicals, you know your home-grown fruit is all-natural.
If you’ve dreamed of going out in your backyard and picking juicy red raspberries, popping a perfectly ripe grape into your mouth right off the vine, or harvesting your own apples in the crisp autumn air, here are a few aspects to consider when adding fruit to your home’s landscape:
- How long are you going to be living in your house?
How long are you going to be where you are? Perennial fruit plants are a long-term commitment so if you are moving soon, best to wait to plant. They require a minimum of one year before you can harvest, and some crops like asparagus, blueberries, and fruit trees take several years to get established before you can get a full harvest. Fruits are more of a long game, but the payoff is delicious!
- When choosing which perennial fruits to include, think about which fruits you and your family already enjoy eating. If you’re new to perennial fruits, you may choose to grow fewer plants at first, and then scale up as you gain confidence. Remember, perennial plants will come back bigger and better, so your first yield will most likely be the smallest. Remember to plan ahead for how you’ll use your harvest, including preservation techniques so you can enjoy your fruit all year long.
- You MUST research the best varieties for your area. You might dream of fresh-squeezed OJ in the morning, but if you live in Wisconsin, you aren’t going to have much luck growing an orange tree! Even certain varieties of common fruits in your area might not work in your backyard. You can look specifically for home gardener varieties to help ensure success.
- Try local you-pick farms to decide what varieties to grow. You might know you want to grow blueberries, but don’t have much knowledge about choosing between the Patriot, Blueray, or Jersey varieties. So take a trip to a local blueberry farm where you can get your hands on different varieties. You’ll be able to explore first-hand the size of the plants, the taste of the fruits, and differences between varieties. While it’s true that some farms may not grow for taste and instead have to prioritize yield, just do a little research beforehand to choose a destination that is inline with your growing practices. You’ll be able to get a good idea of what a healthy fruiting plant looks and tastes like if you decide to grow your own, and you’ll be supporting a local business in the process!
- Fruit plants lend well to succession planting. Every fruit has a season, and some plants have various varieties that grow in slightly different seasons, so you can succession plant with different fruits, or with different varieties of the same fruits.
Here in Wisconsin, I can attest that these fruits grow well without many hiccups: strawberries, aronia, raspberries (red, black, purple, yellow), blackberries, blueberries, tart cherries (tree or shrub form), elderberries, apple and pear trees. If you’ve had luck with perennial fruits in your garden, let me know what varieties worked for you in the comments!
Not sure where to start or what varieties to choose? Book a consult or coaching session, and I will guide you through the process.