A Beginner’s Guide to Growing Fruit Trees
When Mother Nature blessed the new born earth with life forms milleniums ago, the diversity of one celled creatures took up different lines of evolution due to climatic changes and mutations. That is when plant life evolved along with animal life. And that is how the surface of the earth was covered with lush fruitful vegetation, which flourished and evolved in different climates.
As time went by, climatic changes also changed the nature and the appearance of these plants. From multicelled algae and fungi, they became huge multicelled giant trees, like the Sequoia, which are remnants of those glorious days of giant Green trees gone by.
And soon man found out that trees were very useful to give him shelter, to give him food, and to provide him with essential fruit, leaves, and seeds to supplement his diet. That was because he was imitating the animals around him.
They nibbled at leaves, he did the same thing. Sometimes he ended up with a tummy ache. Sometimes the animals ended up sick while he was left hale and hearty. But down the ages, and through lots of trial and error, he found out that every single plant out there could be put into use, even those plants we consider weeds today.
The mythological and historical hanging Gardens of Babylon, which were supposed to have been built by Nebuchadnezzar, but in actuality were built by Sennacherib in Nineveh, Assyria, about 300 km away from Babylon.
These were lush with green trees from all over the world. And historians who are not really bothered about historic authenticity and the names of kings, did not bother much about the locality or the creator of one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
First-hand accounts of that time were not available, and when Babylon conquered Assyria, they called it the new Babylon. And so centuries later historians wrote about the wonders of marvelous trees and green vegetation, growing in Babylon.
So that is the reason why since ancient times, trees, especially fruit trees have been an important part of cultured and civilized landscaping. They were and are planted in gardens for the pleasure of the general public or for your own private enjoyment.
You can grow one kind of fruit or another in almost any garden. Even the smallest garden can produce apples and strawberries. If you have plenty of land you are lucky because you have the space to allow your trees to spread their wings and flourish.
Besides being planted for their crops, fruit trees and fruit shrubs can be used to make your garden look more attractive, aesthetically pleasing and a thing of beauty and a joy forever.
You can make hedges from black currant bushes. Logan berries and blackberries can be used for covering fences and garden sheds. Bare walls can be covered with fruit trees instead of creepers or wall plants.
Garnering a harvest from strawberry plants
Which Fruit to Grow?
Unless you have plenty of land, there is a chance that you are going to be strapped for space. That is why you need to know which fruit to grow. The time for huge gardens is passed, unless you have inherited lots of land. That is why your small gardens need to be filled up with useful fruit trees. So of course the best option is to grow the fruit you love best. Also, choose the fruit, of which the freshness appeals most to you.
Ease of growing is an important factor. What are the growing conditions necessary to give you a good harvest? Some fruit like peaches grow well in sunny and hot atmospheres. If your garden is full of shade, look for fruit, which grow well in the shade.
Supporting Your Fruit Trees
Adequate staking is important because if a tree moves even slightly in the wind, its minute root hairs will be torn away and killed. This is when you are planting a seedling for the first time and it is still trying to get its grip on the soil. Also, depressions are going to be caused in the soil, which form around the base of the trunk. Water is going to collect there, and cause root rot.
Even though these grape vines are not what you can call a fruit “tree,” proper staking make sure that each plant has good support.
Soft fruit, particularly strawberries, grapes, raspberries and currants can be protected from birds with a wire netting cage. This cage should be 6 feet high, and as long and wide as is necessary with a gate at one end. To keep the birds out, the netting should not be more than ¾ inches mesh. I normally use fish netting because it is cheaper than wire netting. This can be used for the top of the cage. Wire netting can be used for the sides and surrounding area.
This fish netting is removed each winter and dried before storing away. Nylon netting can also be used for the entire case, but I found that pigeons have this bad habit of pecking away at nylon and getting in through the holes. I have not found any nylon netting supplier which can give me a big- bird- proof Bird protection netting!
Harvesting your fruit
You need to take a lot of care during harvesting as it is not much use nurturing the fruit to the cropping stage, if it is going to be spoiled by incorrect harvesting. Experience is going to teach you not too pick to early or too late. Do not drop the fruit or bruise it.
I remember going through fruit farms in California, where harvesters were picking a bumper crop of fruit. Some of them did not mind polishing a ripe apple against their sleeves and taking a hefty bite. Then they dropped it down on the ground. Well, one cannot resist this, especially when your employer is not around, and you are harvesting grapes, strawberries and apples. It also shows that the harvester was enjoying his fruit picking activity in the sun and the air. But just imagine that fruit being crated in the box accidentally.
It is going to be almost as embarrassing and horrifying as the food tester on a product launching in Biggles, opening up a package of fast food, and found a chicken leg, out of which the idiotic partner had already taken a previous surreptitious bite.
So if you are picking fruit seriously, remember that the survival of the Orchard depends on the quality of the fruit and its packaging. Do not week in wet weather. Do not leave the fruit lying about in the sun. Do not put diseased fruit in with good fruit.
This is of course a beginner’s guide on gardening, which is giving you the basics of choosing your plants, and growing them. The URLs are going to give you more information on the plants, which you can grow according to season and locality. Some plants start giving you a harvest in the first year itself, like strawberries. Other plants may take a while before you can get a bumper crop for them. But the effort is worthwhile, because whether you are gardening for pleasure or gardening for profit, you have greenery surrounding you.
So get out in the open air, enjoy the fruit of your labors – no pun intended – and Live Long and Prosper-The healthy way.