Becoming productive on my little 1/5 acre is an exciting prospect. I find myself expanding and developing my plans all the time. Ever since one of my favorite bloggers talked about Raintree Nursery and I checked out the website, I’ve been totally hooked on the idea of growing fruit and berries.
What has been especially delightful is discovering dwarf, semi-dwarf, and combination trees.
Dwarf and semi-dwarf trees are grown with root stocks which limit the maximum growth capabilities of the tree. They grow significantly shorter than a full-sized tree with an unrestricted root-stock, and require smaller spacing. For example, a full size apple tree needs about 30 feet between it and the next closest tree, whereas a dwarf tree will need no more than 10 and as little as five. A full size tree will get about 30 feet tall, whereas a dwarf tree tops out around 12 and can be kept even smaller with pruning. Semi-dwarf, as you’ve likely guessed, falls in between the two.
Combination trees are trees which grow multiple (usually cross-pollinating) varieties on one tree. This is accomplished through grafting. This kind of tree is also space-saving, since most trees require cross-pollination from complimentary species in order to grow fruit so a tree that bears only one kind has to be planted within about 100 feet of a complimentary species.
I’ve had this idea of putting one fruit tree in a certain spot in my backyard and another in a corner of the front yard. I was counting on them both being apple trees which would cross-pollinate. After browsing the website, I suddenly found myself planning two dwarf apple trees in the front yard and a combination semi-dwarf pear tree in the backyard. Instead of two kinds of fruits (both apple), I now will suddenly have 6-7.
If that wasn’t enough, I started looking at berries and vines too. Because if you give a homesteader a website, she’s going to want all the stuff.
I’ve been rethinking my perennial garden set-up, and I’m about 90% sure I’m going to transplant my blueberries, get some more, and make two blueberry beds bordered with bee, butterfly, and hummingbird-friendly flowers along the curb of my front yard. Then I can plant a few more non-fruiting perennials in the place of the blueberries and make that garden area look even more put-together, and not worry about how I’m going to protect the blueberries from birds and squirrels without being super inconvenient for anyone who parks next to them.
Then I got this idea for an arbor as an entrance to my garden in the side yard, and growing one or two grape vines over it. So then I found myself contemplating grapes, deciding against wine grapes because that’s just too ambitious for now, and getting a little grumpy that a few of the appealing varieties can’t be shipped to my state.
Thinking of viney plants suitable for making jams led me to remember that I want to grow blackberries and raspberries along one side of my back fence — the same side as my garden, but the shadier part — and that led me to finding those plants and thinking about what varieties I want to buy for that.
And finally, looking at the berry section caused me to come across strawberries, and soon enough I was looking through that selection as well.
Through all of this, I was writing down varieties that appealed to me in Evernote so that I could easily go back and find them whenever I have the extra money in the budget to order a few, and soon I found myself texting my husband to ask if we could buy fruit trees instead of go on a dinner-and-movie Valentine’s Day date, because the fruit trees may actually be even cheaper than the date and I’d probably like them even more than roses.
Unless he got me a couple of rose bushes. I love roses.
If all that wasn’t enough, I have this plot to buy a dwarf Meyer lemon tree and keep it in the corner of my dining room (which has Southern and Eastern exposure) for a more or less continuous production of Meyer lemons in my own home. Lemon water every morning, anyone? It helps that citrus rinds are ridiculously useful for DIY and homemade products such as cleaners and alcoholic beverages. Maybe I’ll ask for that one for Mother’s Day…