Thinking about planting your own fruit trees? That's a great idea! This article will help you know exactly when and how to plant your fruit trees for maximum success!
And this time next year, maybe you'll be enjoying a homemade fruit pie from your very own fruit trees!
Whether you are looking to plant apple trees, peach trees, fig trees, or more - it's important to know exactly how and when to plant them so they have the best chance of surviving and thriving in their new home.
A few years ago when we had first moved to our homestead, we thought planting fruit trees would be a snap. After all, how hard it is to put a few twigs in the ground and cover them with dirt?!
Answer: A bit harder than we thought ;-)
Planting Fruit Trees
Don't get me wrong, the actual planting of the trees is pretty simple! But there are a few other factors that you might not think about when deciding what and where to plant.
So I want to cover a few factors to consider before planting.
Consideration One: Mature Tree Size
Too often I see trees planted very close together (5-10 feet apart) and I wonder how the fruit will be harvested at full size!
Unless you are going to keep your trees dwarfed, make sure that you are allowing space for the trees to reach full size.
For example, we have 2 fig trees that are about 30 feet across now at their full size.
If we had planted them only 15-20 feet apart, we wouldn't be able to get inside the dense canopy to harvest, and the trees would likely be competing for nutrients.
Consideration Two: Pollination Needs
There are some trees that are self-pollinating, like peaches, apricots, pomegranate, citrus, persimmons, sour cherries, and some apple trees.
However, there are other fruiting trees that require cross pollination, such as most apples, pears, plums, sweet cherries, and most nut trees.
As a result, you need to plan for those cross-pollinators to be relatively close by. You don't want them on the other side of the property from the trees they are supposed to cross-pollinate with!
NOTE: Even trees that are technically self-pollinating will benefits from additional varieties and will yield a higher harvest as a result.
Consideration Three: Tree Origin
This is something that most people overlook, but it's just as important as the others!
Where you get your trees from really matters in the long term success of those trees on your land.
Why? Because a tree grown in and accustomed to weather in New England is going to have a harder time surviving in the harsh weather of South Texas.
As a result, it's important to get trees from a similar region to the one they will live in permanently.
Since I know many of our readers are in Texas and similar climates, I will let you know that we got our apple trees from Legg Creek Farm, a wonderful nursery here in Texas!
They have a wide variety of fruit trees, including heirloom varieties, and take great care to create a hardy stock that will serve your family for generations!
When and How to Plant Fruit Trees
Whew, now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's get to the nuts and bolts of planting your own fruit trees!
Decide how far apart your trees need to be and place a marker so you don't lose your place!
Dig a hole twice as deep and twice and wide as the root ball of the tree you are planting. This is the same practice regardless of whether you are moving an established fruit tree, planting a potted fruit tree, or planting a bare root fruit tree!
Make sure to clear all grass and weeds in at least a 3 foot radius around the hole to avoid nutrient competition with the newly planted tree.
Gently spread the roots into the hole, if there are some that are longer than the base of the root ball (there may or may not be), then create a little mountain in the center of the hole to support the base of the tree while the roots spread over the sides.
Backfill the hole with native soil NOT fertilizer. You will fertilize later on in the life of the tree, as needed, but not right now.
Top the soil off with a layer of mulch, about an inch or two deep. Be careful to keep the soil to the level it was at before - whether from a different location on your property, a pot, or the nursery. You will likely be able to see discoloration on the truck.
Create a little mote around the base of the tree (a few inches away from the truck) so that any rain will not drain away but will help keep the tree watered.
Water the newly planted fruit trees just a little, but don't over water. Let the soil settle over a period of time and you'll be able to fill in the low spots with more dirt.
Then in the spring when the tree starts to show new growth and leaves you can water 5-10 gallons once a week IF there isn't rainfall. With rainfall, you will want to keep an eye on the soil moisture and water as needed.
Preserving the Fruit Harvest
Depending on the age of the fruit trees your planting, it might take a while to start harvesting your fruit.
Here is our now-6-year-old peach tree when it was only 3 years old! Currently it yields about 200 pounds of peaches each year!
This tree started producing in year 2 and has done very well for us ever since! Here's some great information on growing peach trees, if you're interested!
But regardless of what type of fruit trees you plan, you will eventually have fruit to preserve! Water bath canning jams, jellies, fruit in syrup, and pie fillings is a wonderful way to store that fruit for future use!
Learn more about water bath canning in my Quick Start Guide to Water Bath Canning today!