The Dirt Diva

Tailoring your garden to your needs!

Home Orchards: A Long-term Investment


So May has come and almost gone and much planting has been accomplished- yay! It’s very encouraging to have new gardeners ask me to plant fruit trees on their property. Fruit trees are a test in patience and dedication. Inevitably someone will ask why the trees are so small at planting time, and how long will it be until they can harvest fruit from them. I prefer to start with “bare-root” trees rather than potted trees for 2 simple reasons: 1. They are smaller and therefore easier to plant, and 2. they cost less than a large tree in a pot/burlap ball. Its true they don’t look too impressive in your garden the first year, resembling sticks with a few spindly branches and leaves. The test in patience comes in waiting for them to put  on new growth every season, and waiting the usual 3-5 years after planting for your first harvest.** We had a 4 year old peach tree yield 100 lbs of peaches in 2008! We think this is because 1. we didn’t have a late frost after the tree was full of blossoms, 2. the tree gets lots of water, and 3. we feed it with a 2″ layer of manure each spring and keep it well mulched. Keys to success!

2010 is year 3 for our dwarf pears, cherries and apples so we are expecting a small harvest this summer/fall. We chose dwarf trees (max. height 8 ft) because we wanted to incorporate them into our veg garden and they require less space than standard trees. For more helpful info, visit the St. Lawrence Nursery website, the real pros on northern climate fruit tree care. Upon my latest visit to their site, I learned letting the grass grow in the orchard pathways is better for the trees, as this provides habitat for beneficial insects.  So if you must mow, set the blade higher than usual, or don’t mow as frequently. As they say- don’t be a mow-aholic! Happy fruiting!

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