January 26, 2015

Growing Fruit

When we first moved to Oak Hill many Septembers ago, we bought a collection of dwarf fruit trees for fall planting. We were truly "putting down roots".

 
Our young trees

Fall is a good time to plant fruit trees. Cooler temperatures are less stressful on the trees and they don't need to be watered as often when they are being established. The roots become accustomed to the soil and are ready to take off growing in the spring.

We planted four varieties of apple, three plums, and two cherries. I was iffy about the cherry trees since the leaves can be toxic to goats, but they came in the package we bought so I just planned to be extra careful. Both cherry trees died that first year though, and we didn't replace them.



There are three sizes of fruit trees: standard, semi-dwarf and dwarf. Dwarf trees will produce much earlier than standard trees, but the lifespan of dwarf trees is much shorter than standard trees. We planted dwarfs, and had fruit the second spring. Eleven years later though, the trees have pretty much stopped producing. If we'd planted a few standard trees at the same time, they would now be ready to produce fruit. If I were to do it over again, I'd plant some of each.




We've also planted many peach trees and a nectarine, but lost them all to various reasons: winter kill, borers, grasshoppers, and wind damage. We didn't try apricots after research showed that their early blooming usually coincides with frost here in Oklahoma.



We tried grapes, raspberries, and the little native kiwi but I wasn't able to keep them alive. My thumb that was green in Michigan hasn't been as successful in Oklahoma. It's much harder to keep something alive here in the extreme heat and summer drought. We had a strawberry bed for a year, then rabbits ate the plants. So many lessons to learn.



The native blackberries have more than made up for my brown thumb though. They are the hardiest thing on the planet I think, and the problem isn't keeping them alive but keeping them under control. One "patch" in our hayfield is bigger than our living room and kitchen put together.



With the exception of one year when the drought was so bad that all of the immature fruit shriveled up and dried before they were ripe, I've braved the heat, mosquitoes and chiggers and filled buckets with wonderful, delicious blackberries. What a blessing they are. I can them whole, make jam and jelly, eat them fresh, and freeze the rest.



Another Oklahoma blessing is the native sand plums, tiny red jewels with a large seed on a thorny plant. They're not really worth eating raw, but they do make good jelly.

There's a saying that the best time to plant a fruit tree is five years ago; I completely agree with that. I've tried to at least replace the trees that have died each year but I'm a bit behind on that. Our elderly neighbor, a widow who lives up the road, always plants new trees each year. That reminds me of another saying, "to plant a tree is to believe in tomorrow."


Related Posts:
Canning: Sweet and Sour Plum Sauce
Harvest Apple Jelly
Blackberry Jam


This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


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13 comments:

  1. it's fun to hear about what you are growing in Oklahoma. We live in eastern, where are you? We are working on a front yard orchard here.

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  2. This is so interesting to read! I've been thinking of adding some extra fruit trees, but have been unable to settle on what to try. I am lucky that my grandfather planted many apple, cherry, and plum trees years ago. The apples are going strong, though the cherry and plum haven't been so lucky! We also have native blackberry and tons, and tons of wild mulberry trees.

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  3. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead6:39 AM

    Hi neighbor! We live in central Oklahoma. I hope your front yard orchard is fruitful, Christina.

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  4. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead6:44 AM

    Monica, how fortunate you are to have special trees planted so long ago. Mulberries are delicious too; enjoy!

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  5. Thanks for sharing your experience. I was really tempted to plant dwarf trees because I was desperate for fruit on our property! :) However, I like the suggestion to plant both. Why not? Thanks for sharing this week on the Art of Home-Making Mondays! :)

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  6. This was quite helpful.... sorry you have had such a time of it with fruit on your property. We still live in the city and have a peach tree (semi drawf), several blueberry bushes and blackberry bushes. We have plans for if we ever move to the country... to plant fruit trees immediately, but I love the idea of planting BOTH kinds... at least as much as we can afford. :) Thank you.

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  7. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead9:15 PM

    Joy, I'm glad that it rang a bell with you. I sure wish we'd done that!

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  8. We have just started a fruit orchard and even though they are not producing much fruit yet I am anxiously awaiting them to look as nice as yours!

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  9. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead9:31 AM

    Waiting for them to be old enough to produce fruit is HARD!

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  10. Thanks for linking this great post at Good Morning Mondays. I really enjoy seeing the pictures of your farm. We are coming into our fruit picking season and then we will be planting more fruit trees in the autumn. Blessings

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  11. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead7:38 AM

    Hoping your trees are heavy with fruit, Terri. Enjoy your summer. Thank you for commenting!

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  12. We are trying to plant a few trees each year. Right now we just have a mature lemon tree and 2 mature pecan trees that are producing. One day we hope to have all kinds of fruit from our property. We also have wild blackberries (dewberries) which is such a blessings. Thanks for sharing with us at Simple Lives Thursday; hope to see you again this week.

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  13. I can't wait to plant an orchard one day. We also want to grow lots of berries. Thanks for sharing at The Homestead Blog Hop! Hope to see you again this week. :)

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