Home & Garden

Enhance your edible garden with fruit trees and shrubs

When it comes to growing our own food, the natural starting point for most of us is a vegetable garden.

Yet by stopping there, we are missing out on a lot.

Growing fruit gives us control over what is in our food and where it comes from. But homegrown fruit also provides incredible flavors and a larger selection of varieties than is typically found in the grocery store. And by growing fruit organically, we are reducing the demand for conventionally grown fruit – and that supports the environment.

But for some, adding fruit to the garden can be intimidating. Yet by using sound gardening practices, it’s possible to grow a wide variety of delicious fruit from healthy trees and shrubs in your own backyard or even on a deck or patio.

In speaking with many food gardeners who are not currently growing fruit, a few objections kept surfacing.

In no particular order, these are some of the most common reasons expressed for not growing your own fruit:

Not enough room.

Pest and disease problems.

Prune and destroy diseased limbs, remove mummified fruit (especially in late fall or winter) to avoid re-contamination of diseases and spores, avoid planting in poorly drained sites, and avoid overwatering to prevent root-rot and water molds.

Yes, some fruit trees, such as apples, are hosts to their fair share of pests. But there are numerous effective conventional and organic controls, and many of the perceived problems are only cosmetic.

Personally, I’d prefer a blemished apple that’s perfectly fine to eat to one that has been sprayed with a pesticide just to prevent a little cosmetic damage.

Too time-consuming.

Other important duties involve early pruning to train your trees for size and shape, and of course the all-important harvesting – the greatest benefit of growing fruit.

Too messy.

Lack of success in the past.

Joe Lamp’l is host and executive producer of “Growing a Greener World” on National Public Television and founder of The joe gardener Company.