When I was growing up, we used to go to a nearby orchard and pick our own fruit. It was a seasonal tradition and one which saw our family joined by the grandparents. Then we would all prepare and can the fruit, saving some for fresh, and some for fruit crumbles and pies. This experience has inspired me to want my own orchard. But I needed smaller fruit trees for ease of management, and an idea of what would grow in my new garden.
Mini Orchard Ideas
I am achieving my goal to have an edible landscape. Part of the goal included bringing in plenty of small space fruit plants that would allow me to have a wide variety of fruits. When contemplating my orchard ideas, I settled upon dwarf trees and different berry and other canes, bushes, and vines. As I write this, it is early summer and the little fruits are just beginning to form.
The first trees I started with were an Italian plum, nectarine, and apple. We already had an old apple tree on the property, but it needed an extensive overhaul as it had not been pruned in a decade by the looks of things. These fruit trees were 3 years old and supposedly ready to fruit, but we only got a handful of plums the first year. The next year we added an apricot and a green gage plum. The green gage was a volunteer from my Mum’s yard and did not flower this year. It may not produce, but it is a fun experiment.
Not satisfied with just trees, I started to round things out with other small space fruit plants. We have a nice stand of raspberries, and the strawberries are becoming an effective ground cover. Both of these were donations from family and friends. There are also blueberries and other berry bushes. The rhubarb is past its usefulness, but was delicious. This year I got white grapes which are starting to take off. They will be joined next year, by some sweet red variety.
We also plant fruits annually. Of course, the most obvious are tomatoes. We love fresh tomatoes and the sauce we make and can for winter. There will be both plum and slicing tomatoes.
And of course, we grow cucumbers, both for fresh eating and the prickly variety for tangy pickles. We even make refrigerator pickles out of some, so we can enjoy them without bringing out the canning things.
But we also have several exotic melons, one from Peru and another from Mexico. My most prized recent acquisition is a passion flower vine. It will produce maypops, chubby, oval, orange fruits that I can’t wait to taste.
I have not run out of orchard ideas, but most of the bare root trees are out of stores at this point, and balled and burlap plants are too expensive. But I am making a shopping list for next spring, with the intention of expanding our mini orchard and providing us with healthy, home grown fruits. Peaches, cherries and pears top the list; what is more satisfying than a freshly picked peach, or a few stolen berries when you are picking?