Stella Otto: The Backyard Fruit Gardener

Today's Tip: Mow vegetation short around the base of fruit trees and bushes to reduce winter habitat for rodents.

Why Grow a Fruit Garden — A Bushel of Reasons

Are you look­ing for some healthy, eco­nom­i­cal fun that brings the whole fam­ily together? It’s as close as your own yard! Grow­ing fruit is fun for every­one in the fam­ily, from tod­dler to grandpa.

Plant­ing or prun­ing, pick­ing or par­tak­ing, even just admir­ing the blos­soms gets every­body out­doors and active.

Eat­ing healthy is more fun when the snack is some­thing you’ve grown your­self. Chil­dren will develop sound, life­long eat­ing habits when they par­tic­i­pate in grow­ing what they eat. Whether child or adult, who can resist a fresh, juicy peach or a hand­ful of glis­ten­ing red cur­rants they’ve just picked?

You’ll enjoy the fresh­est fruit pos­si­ble. Home-grown fruit will be at the peak of fla­vor and con­ve­niently close when har­vested from your own gar­den, rather than spend­ing days on a truck to market.

Unique, fla­vor­ful vari­eties of more com­mon fruits are usu­ally only avail­able from expen­sive mail-order cat­a­logs, or not at all. (Did you know there are more than 1100 vari­eties of apple?) But the vast choice of vari­eties you can grow your­self is often lim­ited only by your climate.

Fruit gar­den­ing allows you to be envi­ron­men­tally respon­si­ble. Tech­niques for sus­tain­abil­ity -  min­i­miz­ing pes­ti­cide use, build­ing the soil, and encour­ag­ing ben­e­fi­cial insects are all impor­tant aspects of home fruit gardening.

You can save a bushel of money grow­ing your own. Many peo­ple com­plain that some fruit, like rasp­ber­ries, are too expen­sive to enjoy reg­u­larly. That may be true when the fruit is pur­chased at the store, but not so when you grow your own.

Adding berry bushes and fruit trees to a gar­den will enhance the value of a home and yard.

Wor­ried that you don’t know where to begin? Start­ing a fruit gar­den is fun, easy, and edu­ca­tional.  Here are some arti­cles to get you started:

Choos­ing Fruit to Grow in Your Cli­mate
Fruit Gar­den­ing — Is Your Soil Right for it?
Per­fect Place for a Fruit Gar­den 
Select­ing the Right Fruit Tree or Berry Bush
Pol­li­na­tion — A Sexy Time in the Fruit Gar­den
Grow­ing Fruit in Containers

©2013. Adapted from the Back­yard Berry Book: A hands-on guide to grow­ing berries, bram­bles, and vine fruit in the home gar­den and the Back­yard Orchardist: A com­plete guide to grow­ing fruit trees in the home gar­den by Stella Otto.