Growing Fruit Can Be Fun

— Written By and last updated by

Growing fruit can be fun, supply your family with fresh, tasty, and nutritious food and you don’t need an orchard to grow your own fruit at home. If you wisely choose the kinds and cultivars (varieties) of fruit before you plant, you can harvest sun-sweet fruit from early summer through the fall.

Before you plant, give some thought to where you want to place your fruit garden. Fruit trees and shrubs will be around for many years. So before you get started, you need to investigate what’s involved in establishing the right plant in the right place at the right time. This means being informed about site selection, soil preparation, and developing planting plans. In order to place these pieces of the garden puzzle together, think about what your family likes to eat, then find out what varieties will work in your setting.

Before you purchase plants for your plan, look into what are their pollination needs, their winter hardiness, and how susceptible or resistant they are to pests and disease. If you know before you grow, you’ll save yourself a lot of frustration and time. As Ben said, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Some fruits are easier to grow than others. Strawberries aren’t much harder to grow than most annual garden crops and bear fruit quickly. Most tree fruits, on the other hand, require regular pruning, vigilant pest management, and care, and they won’t bear fruit right away. With most fruit consider that you are “farming sunlight.” Understand that these plants need full sun, well-drained soil, and good air circulation. While most fruits and vegetables succeed with a pH between 6.0 and 6.5, some edibles have more specific needs, such as a lower soil pH for blueberries. Soil pH can be determined by a soil test (soil sample collection kits are available at the N.C. Cooperative Extension of Lee County office in the McSwain Extension Education and Agriculture Center).

Some questions to answer in order to Know Before You Grow:

  • How susceptible your site is to frost?
  • Does your site receive enough sun?
  • Does your site have well-drained soil at least 8 inches deep?
  • How do you choose plants that are adapted to your site and are winter hardy?
  • Do you have the ability to prevent damage from diseases, insects, weeds, and wildlife?
  • Can you use good cultural practices, including providing sufficient water?
  • Are you able and willing to do what is required in a timely manner?

Minda Daughtry is Horticulture Agent for North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Lee County.