One of a gardener’s greatest accomplishments is to grow sun-sweetened fruits such as nice red apples or juicy berries.
Most of us think of fruits as growing on trees but there are many of the easy fruits to be grown are so-called small fruits or berries. Ground hugging strawberries will knit themselves into a leafy green groundcover in a sunny spot and blueberries are at home nestled among ornamental shrubs.
Fruits run on sun and the key to growing healthy plants that produce big harvests should be placed that they will receive at least a half day of full sun. Gentle south facing slopes are ideal for most fruits.
Plenty of fresh air will discourage fungal diseases and loss of spring blossoms to late spring frosts. If space is a problem, you can always select dwarf trees. Apple, pear, cherry, peach, nectarine, and plum trees are all available grafted onto dwarfing rootstocks that restricts their size, yet they still bear full size fruit.
While fruit trees are functional, they can also be decorative. Apples, pears, and cherries make attractive landscape specimens when in full flower. Bramble type fruits, such as blackberries or raspberries, can be used to define a boundary and discourage trespassers. Or you can grow fruits upward by training grapes or kiwi vines to cover an overhead arbor.
Some fruits can’t pollinate themselves, so they need a compatible partner.
Always clean up leaves, fruits, and other debris around fruit plantings to discourage pests. Prune and destroy any diseased fruits or foliage. Monitor fruits often for signs of insect or disease problems do you can treat them early.
Fruits need bees and other pollinating insects, which are easy to attract to your garden with diverse assortment of flowers. In addition to pollinators, you can encourage predator insects, such as parasitic wasps and ladybug, to visit your fruits by planting mint, Queen Anne’s lace, catmint, yarrow, and other favorite food sources in a nearby bed.
Most fruits get started in spring but in some areas, you can plant strawberries in the fall, but most fruits are best planted in late winter or early spring.
Many insect pests that bother fruits rest in tree crevices during the winter and one of their worst enemies is the little bird called the tufted titmouse. Lure them to you winter bird feeders with sunflower seeds but don’t worry that the titmice will come around in summer to eat your fruits. They eat mostly insects and seeds.