Garden fresh veggies are great but fresh organic fruit at your door step is even better. If your a boomer like me, you can probably remember when bought fruit actually tasted great. Well, that’s the best reason to grow your own as it tastes just like that and it is an environmentally friendly hobby. The taste is not only amazing it is also very nostalgic. We now get 3 types of apples and pears in the autumn, oranges, grapefuit, mandarin and other citrus in the winter, apricots, plumcots, nectarines and peaches in the summer.
As with the veggies, plenty of advice is available but we found you can’t beat your own experience. The key is to find an area that gets plenty of sun, not subject to flooding, and if possible some protection from high winds. The trees need plenty of water when producing fruit so a good water supply is essential. We are lucky here in Berry as we tend to get plenty of rain. We do get high wind from the north in the winter but this has not been a big issue as most of the trees are basically leafless and bare in that time which allows the wind to just blow through. When choosing what to plant consider the climate, temperatures in winter, and note that many fruits need a second tree to allow for cross pollination. The local nursery was able to help us with these requirements.
Fertilization of the trees is important about 4 times per year. At times we have resorted to chicken manure based products, which are unfortunately a by product of the egg or chicken industry. We are continuing to explore the best ways to completely avoid even by -products of animal exploitation. Options have been to use our own mulch, mushroom compost and other specialty products from the nursery. Also as we have rescued chickens most of their manure is collected and placed in the compost to boost its value. In the meantime, with the prevalence of animal exploitation, we will still consider using the chicken manure based products which would otherwise be simply a waste product.
Another lesson we learned the hard way was that birds love fruit as much as we do. The first year we had apples on our tree, we watched them ripen and just as we thought about starting to eat them, the birds ate every single one. To fix this we purchased netting that wraps around the tree. We chose a fine mesh designed so that birds will not get tangled in it. The down side of the fine mesh is that they can only go on after pollination as the netting prevents the bees getting to the flowers for pollination. It is best to prune trees well each year so they don’t grow too large. This ensures you don’t need a crane to get the fruit and also makes protecting with the netting much more practical.