Want to grow your own fruit trees? Today we talk about how to grow fruit trees, how to avoid costly mistakes with fruit trees, and how to know which fruits are right for your area and when to plant where you live.
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It’s party time on the podcast this week as I’ve got two special co-hosts. Angie is a homesteader from Texas with an awesome tool to help you grow your own food. She’s sharing her tips on growing fruit trees today!
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliates. They cost you no more and my family and I thank you for your support of this website.
The Gardening Notebook -If you plan on growing your own food at any level, you need this amazing tool. Seriously, save yourself the mistakes I’ve made and from this moment forward, use it!
The Day I Met Jesus– Every day is the day I want you to meet Jesus. This book will help you see Him in a whole new light. It did me.
Angie: In warmer climates the best time of year to plant fruit trees is in the fall. Ideally they go in about October and November. The winters are mild and the summers are so hot. The few cold snaps don’t hurt fruit trees but the heat burns them up. I’ve planted in March and April and only a few survive. It gets so hot they don’t have a chance to develop a good root system. Plus, I don’t always water the best in the summer months. I water the vegetable garden and don’t remember the fruit trees.
If you have mild winters and hot summers then plant in the fall. But you can still plant but know you’ll really need to water them deeply and often.
New to fruit trees, check out –> How to Plant Fruit Trees
Melissa: In the Pacific Northwest we’re typically quite rainy and wet. Two years ago I put in two new apple trees in the spring. i wasn’t that diligent about watering them and I lost one of them. When I went to replace it I made sure every Sunday I watered that new fruit tree and it did well. Be sure you establish new fruit trees with regular watering.
We had this problem when we first started planting our orchard our homestead was raw and undeveloped land. We put our orchard in ourselves and the younger bare root fruit trees are less expensive, but you have to wait to get your fruit.
When I first purchased them I didn’t do as much research as I should, I didn’t know enough about self-pollinating verses cross-pollinating on the fruit trees we bought.
Angie: Self-pollinating fruit trees are what means they can make fruit all by themselves. So you only need one. You can have more, but you don’t have to in order to get fruit. It’s really important to know for a small or urban homestead where you don’t have a lot of acreage. It’s nice to know you don’t need tons and tons of trees for fruit.
Most berries and European plums will do better if they have another variety to cross-pollinate with.
I made this mistake when we first started. We live on an acre and a half. It had a mature lemon tree and two mature pecan trees. We sat about planting other trees and berries. On a whim at the nursery I bought some blueberry bushes. Our soil isn’t acidic enough so we had to grow them in pots. I had heard you needed more than one. So I bought four of the exact same kind. I was wondering why I wasn’t getting very many berries.
My older friend said Angi, “When they say cross-pollinating you need more than one variety, not plants. But it was a good lesson.”
Cross-pollination needs different varieties that bloom at the same time. The same time is very important. If you have early blooming blueberries you need another variety that blooms early for cross-pollination.
You don’t necessarily need two of the same pears trees on your property if your neighbor has a pear tree you need to find out what variety your neighbor has and purchase a different variety. They have to be within 50 feet of one another to cross-pollinate though.
Apple (there are a few self-pollinating varieties like Golden Delicious, but they will do better if they have a cross-pollinator)
Most nut trees
Melissa: I have one self-pollinating apple. Like you said, I wasn’t getting a lot of fruit set on it. So when I purchased new fruit trees I looked deeper into cross-pollinating. We can’t grow citrus here but we grow apples quite well. We grow apples, cherries, plums, and few peach varieties. Apples were what I really wanted.
You need to pay attention to early season, mid-season, and late season on your fruit trees. A crab apple is sour and not good for table eating, but it’s a super pollinator because it has a very long bloom time and cross-pollinates with almost every type of apple variety. We ended up getting a crab apple to take care of that whole problem.
Angi: That is a great idea.
Melissa: The crab apple is also an excellent source of natural pectin so I plan on using the apples it produces for our pectin in our homemade jams and jellies.
Angie: I’m making a note to see if crab apples will grow down here.
Melissa: I don’t know what their growing zone is, but they’re very prevalent up here and stay fairly small.
It’s funny because it sounds like your soil is pretty alkaline, where ours is on the acidic side at about a 6 on the ph scale. I add a small amount of acid to our blueberries.
Do you know if fruit trees are as picky as the soil type as berries?
Angi: I don’t think they are. I’ve grown around town and asked other growers on which type of fruit trees grow well for you. I want as low fuss orchard and garden as possible. It’s hard to take something doesn’t grow well in your area and find the time to tend to it to make it grow. I’ve talked to our county extension agent at blank as to what varieties do well. Unless it’s a local nursery (Lowe’s or big box stores don’t know if that variety will do well as local nurseries do) I don’t purchase trees there unless I”m absolutely sure it grows well in our area.
We’re very diligent to make sure we keep the grass cleared around our fruit trees to help with the trees getting all of the water. We use mulch, compost, and wood chips on top of that bare area to keep the moisture in for the fruit trees.
Melissa: You guys are quite a bit drier than we are here. I try to keep the grass away from the base of our trees too. Fruit trees do like lots of sun to get your fruit ripe. You want to plant your fruit in full sun.
Angi: Even in hot summer areas you want to plant in full sun. Our fruit is ready in late July to early August before it gets too hot.
Melissa: What’s your average hot summer temps?
Angie: From the high nineties to low hundreds from July to mid-late September.
Melissa: If we hit ninety we’re dying and even in the eighties we’re thinking it’s hot.
Angie: We have a gardening break in the summer with the garden. We can only grow peppers and okra during that time. That’s why it’s so important to research, the county extension office and keeping notes on what grows well in your area.
Melissa: That’s so true. We practice crop rotation in our vegetable garden and I think I’ll remember every year for crop rotation where I put everything. I’ve been trying to take a picture so I can remember the year before where things were. It’s so key to right things down because you won’t remember.
Angi: It costs you money in the long run if you don’t write things down. We planted two apples trees last year and one made it but one didn’t it. So I had to replace it with two trees because I didn’t know which variety I had because I hadn’t kept good records. It was a reminder to write it down because I won’t remember later.
Melissa: You’re right. It can be costly to relearn or redo because you forgot or didn’t record it. I’m excited because Angi has a Gardening Notebook. I want to share it with you guys because it’s not only for record keeping it has link and articles and everything you need to get started if you’re new to gardening. Can you share about what all is in the Gardening Notebook.
Angi: I started keeping a personal gardening notebook about 15 years ago. I kept it for about 10 years and one day when we were cleaning the house and getting ready for company the notebook got put in the burn barrel. I cried. I started rebuilding the notebook. My husband said there’s a lot of good info in that, you should make it into an e-book. So I did.
In the beginning there’s info for you to find your county extension office and your frost dates. How to find out how many chill hours you have. The next section goes into plant profiles.
The notebook is a little over 120 pages long. I’ve got common vegetables and plant profiles for those that most people grow. A place to plan when to plant in your area and varieties for your specific area. We even include spaces for fruit, herbs, and ornamental.
You can right down your observations. Like notes: don’t grow this variety of tomato because it didn’t work for you.
I romanticize over the seed packets and catalogs and think I want one of everything. This helps me remember which varieties didn’t work for us and which ones did.
You can lay out your garden with graph paper. You can diagram it out and what and when you planted.
There’s a section on pest management with organic solutions. There’s pages you can make notes on certain pests for your area as well.
There’s a garden calender for things to do each month. Of course, what you’re doing in a certain month is going to be different from what I do in a month because of our climate. So I think it’s important you keep your own notes.
There’s blank plant profile pages so you can make custom ones for you.
There’s an expense area. Sometimes homesteader’s endeavors really just become expensive hobbies. And that’s okay if you’re honest about it. I had a friend who was spending almost $1,100 on feed for goats and chickens a month. She wasn’t using them like she thought or selling them at a price to break even. Until she started tracking her expenses she didn’t realize how much they were costing her.
There’s a seed and plant record purchase sheet.
My favorite part is the journal in the back by month. You can write down your observations for the month. I realized my gardening year is vastly different, even from Northern Texas. That way when everyone else is showing all their August garden pictures and mine are brown and dead, I can look back and know this will end and the green will be back. To be a successful gardener or orchard keeper it’s important to look at your own homestead in your climate and embrace what you have. Learn what will work for you in your area.
Melissa: Gardening is really customized to what you want. Sometimes we really think we’re saving money by raising it ourselves so the expense records are so important. If we don’t keep track then I don’t really know how much I’m saving or spending. The same is true with livestock as it is with your gardening.
Even if you go by your zone, your house might be slightly different. I’m in the foothills so my planting time (even though our average frost date is the same) we have a two week difference in direct sowing than the towns 40 miles west of us. Most gardeners are super willing to share their knowledge with you.
Angi: Gardeners are the most generous people with their info ever. Especially older gardeners are so excited to share their info with you. They love to see young families using those skills.
If you’re serious about making your garden work for you and growing your own food then you need to check out The Gardening Notebook. Having all of our records, notes from previous years, and expenses in one place is key and in the long run it will save you money. This notebook helps you with not just your vegetables but your fruit trees and bushes as well.
Here is where to check out –> The Gardening Notebook
It’s like a party on the podcast today. For our second part of the show we have a special guest…
I’m super excited to share with you I have Mary DeMuth on the podcast today!
We’re staring first with what I’m reading this week because what I’m reading is Mary’s book The Day I Met Jesus, co-written with Frank Viola. So welcome!
Mary: Thanks for having me.
Melissa: I wasn’t sure what to expect because the book is written a little bit differently. It’s both fiction and non-fiction, kind of a marriage between to the two. Do you want to explain that, because it’s an unusual approach?
Mary: There’s isn’t anything else like it that I’ve seen. It starts with a story of a woman from the New Testament that’s re-imagined on a lot of evidence, research and based on scripture. I imagined what might be their back story, we’ve never really known what happened before or after. Maybe the woman at the well or issue of blood. So the second half is a working it out or devotional side. I wrote the fiction side and Frank wrote the devotional side.
Melissa: I love that it has the story side. Because I had an ectopic pregnancy where I lost the baby and my aunt brought me a fictional book that God used to bring me back to them. Fiction has a unique place in my heart. I love that the fiction element is in the book. That’s the part you read first in each chapter. You guys did a lot of research on things. I think that’s fascinating. I’m a history geek so I love the facts and tidbits.
Mary: We did a lot of research to weave in those details. It was a lot of fun.
Melissa; It was funny because when I sat down to read it (I’ve read both of you guys before, I actually helped Frank with Jesus’ Favorite Place on Earth) so I knew it would be good, but I have to say I wasn’t expecting for it to be so moving. I’ve read the first 3 stories.
Each one has brought me to tears. I don’t cry a lot when I read but it’s very moving and powerful. I was reading the chapter on the dairy of a prostitute who loved to much (chapter 3). It’s the woman who washes his feet with her tears and dries them with her hair. What took hold of me was when we see Simon the Pharisee and a lot of the times I’m more judgemental that I should be. I don’t even intentionally realize it until I look back on it. So I’m working with God on that and I was reading it I was struck at how like the Pharisees I am, even when I don’t want to be. I withhold the forgiveness to myself that Jesus has given me because I get caught up in the shame of my judgement. It touched me that the woman accepted the forgiveness and she didn’t hold onto her past and shame.
Mary: It’s interesting and I love because everyone was looking on aghast because she was touching His feet. It was considered quite sexual to let you hair down back then. She was doing everything wrong. The perfume she used was bought with wages garnered from her prostitution. Yet He accepted it.
Simon created this amazing banquiet and Jesus doesn’t accept Simon’s perfect banquet but he accepts this woman’s offering. Jesus was so out of the box and defies our expectation. He wouldn’t confirm to our images or wants. He went out of his way to talk to the woman at the well which is the longest conversation recorded in the gospels in Samaria with a woman. He really messed with convention and the disciplies couldn’t do anything about it.
Melissa: I did not realize the letting down of the hair was so taboo. I didn’t know in that time that Frank said that was basically today a woman going topless. I didn’t realize that it was taken that way in the time. The things were quite outrageous and if I’m being honest and I was sitting there I probably would have thought more like the Pharisees at her actions. She was doing the taboo things but Jesus knew her heart and intentions and that’s what He does. He doesn’t look at circumstances like we do, He goes to the heart.
Mary; That’s why we wrote the book. We wanted people to see Jesus through the eyes of real woman. We begin to see things about Him we never knew. So people can violate their boundaries. Like C.S. Lewis said about Jesus, He’s not safe, but He’s good. You get to put your feet into the sandals that girded their feet along the pathways that Jesus walked. You get to understand how different He truly was.
Melissa: I’m excited to finish is with a box of tissues!
Mary: You can find out more about the book, and things like sharing your story on the day you met Jesus at TheDayIMetJesus.com
Melissa: Our biggest testament is how we met Jesus and how He changed us. I didn’t realize the website was there so now I can check it out. Can you share any verse that’s important in your life.
Mary: I keep coming back to 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God.…
What I love about that is that’s my own story. I was one of those unnoticed foolish kids running around this world and God saw fit to notice me. He confounded the wise by choosing the foolish and you look at these woman in the New Testament that we show. All of them were broken and hurting and that was the very thing that caused them to reach to Jesus in the first place. The woman with the condition of blood she was outcast and that’s pretty cool because in our weird Christian culture it’s the broken, maligned and hurting that know their need for Him and experience His presence more keenly. You think if you’re in control of your life you don’t need Jesus.
Melissa: Thank you for writing this. You can also check MaryDeMuth.com and she blogs very openly and from her heart about hard issues that as Christians we need to deal with and support one another with.
Melissa K. Norris inspires people's faith and pioneer roots with her books, podcast, and blog. Melissa lives with her husband and two children in their own little house in the big woods in the foothills of the North Cascade Mountains. When she's not wrangling chickens and cattle, you can find her stuffing Mason jars with homegrown food and playing with flour and sugar in the kitchen.