So far most of our fruit plants are doing fine. We planted seven apple tree varieties last year and so far all are doing well except for one tree. It was my goal to plant seven fruit trees a year so we’ll have to bump that to eight! The apple blossoms are beautiful and give us some hope of what’s to come. All of our trees are dwarf grafted so they will all be shorter thus easier to harvest the fruit and can be used as a backdrop for Photography By Sabrina. Half of the trees are grafted with three different varieties of apples from Fuji, Delicious, Yellow Delicious and Gala.
We planted four beds of fruit berries with seven plants each. Most of the bushes are doing great, the exception seems to be the raspberry plants, but I think its because of the type and the way they grow. Each row has one plant that is lagging way behind the others. The raspberries seem to have the best lateral growth compared to the blackberries. I see all kinds of buds on all of the plants and it’s going to be exciting to have our second full year harvest. I believe I planted these in the fall of 2014, so they did have berries last year but they start to grow better after the second year. All of the cane growth last year will produce fruiting canes this year! It seemed I may not have bought the best variety of berries according to the Fruit Class instructor at the recent Pick TN Expo but I do not seem to be having too many problems. I spray both the berries and the apple trees with an organic sulphur mix that seems to be a good preventive.
Our goal was to expand the patch by one or two fruit berry rows a year but so far I haven’t budgeted that quite yet. Each organic non GMO berry plant is around $14 and the two posts are about $8 each so I’ll need $100 – 200 set aside to expand my operation. I think I’ll need to sell more than $200 worth to make the expansion pay for itself. I plan to weigh this years crop and figure out how much I can expect to harvest and the time frame that I will need to promote any Pick-Your-Own on farm fruit sales.
Our other fruit plants, not including Tomato plants since they are by law a vegetable according to agriculture standards, are our grape varieties. I bought these last year at the end of season and got them for a great price. I’m not sure if that great price will translate into a healthy fruit vine, but I have hope. I planted them at the end of my vegetable garden and need to construct a trellis system for them soon. I will dedicate that last 10 feet for a budding vineyard and grow enough for personal use for fresh fruit, jellies and jams. In that 10 x 60 foot space I can grow at least three rows of grapes of or or two different varieties.
Growing fruit trees or vines are a commitment in time and patience! Successful fruit development only occurs after one or more growing seasons. Remember that pick your own on-farm sales can lead to CSA signups and get added exposure to your farm operations and that fruits and jellies are value added products that can be safely produced on the farm homestead. If you are in it for the long haul start as many fruit trees and vines as you can afford and then add to your orchard and patch every year. Later rather than sooner you’ll soon be enjoying the fruits of your labor!