GardenNews.biz - Jul 10,2010 - (GardenNews.biz)-How to Grow Fruits and Berries
Dwarf rootstocks limit the size of fruit trees, making it easier to grow them in a small garden.
You don't have to own a large estate to grow a wide variety of fruits at home. If you don't have space for full-sized trees, you can plant dwarf forms of apples, pears and other fruits. Or try pruning and training trees on a trellis in the time-honored technique known as espalier. Grow a grapevine over an arbor or pergola. Plant lowbush blueberries or strawberries in a bed near the house. Even container growing is possible, giving northern gardeners a chance to grow citrus, figs and other frost-tender fruit trees.
Fruit trees are somewhat fussy about where they're planted. If you were planting a large commercial orchard, site selection would be critical. But for a small home orchard, your best bet is to take a handful of variables into account, select the most promising site on your property, and then plant a couple of trees and give it a try.
Soil: Fruit trees don't like wet feet, so well-drained, loamy soil is a must. They should be located where there is good air circulation so their leaves will dry quickly, since moisture helps spread disease.
Frost: Flower buds can be easily killed by late spring frosts, so avoid siting your orchard in a frost pocket. Cold air flows downhill, making flowering fruit trees located at the bottom of a slope especially vulnerable to frost. Mid-slope is the best location, because winds are most severe at the top.
Slope direction: Which direction the slope should face is not always clear. Southern and southwestern slopes can be hot and dry, and can cause trees to break dormancy too early, which makes them susceptible to damage from late frosts. Yet a southern slope can work well if it is protected from the prevailing winds by a windbreak on any side except the downslope one (which would block air circulation). A northerly slope may not provide enough solar exposure to evaporate moisture and promote good fruiting. In humid regions, easterly slopes can speed drying of the morning dew.
Sun: Fruit trees need a lot of sun to grow healthy and be productive. If they are shaded by other trees or a building they will be less fruitful and more prone to insects and -disease.
It pays to seek out trees and shrubs that have some natural resistance to disease. In apples and pears the common diseases include scab and fire blight. With other fruits, such as raspberries, make sure you buy from a nursery that propagates from virus-free plants. Selecting disease-resistant plants doesn't mean that you will never experience any disease problems, but it greatly improves your chances for success.
Another crucial issue is hardiness. To make sure that the plants you purchase won't be damaged over the winter, check hardiness information before you buy. Also consider bloom time. Many fruits flower very early in the