Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Lets face it, You need fruit.  Two servings a day they say.

Fruit is darned hard to find on the land.  It would be a full time job finding fruit for a family if you had to forage.

For centuries people have been planting orchards for their own needs or for business uses.  We all know the stories about Johnny Appleseed. What is not generally known is that he was a bit of a religious nut(but then religious nuts were well loved in the 19th century) and despite trying to make good investments in land as he tramped the wilds of the mid west, he died as a hired hand and virtually penniless.  Throwing no stones...it may have been just what he wanted from life.
In any event his was a good idea, as apples are a fine staple for many ways of eating and of drinking in the form of hard and fresh cider.
All orchard fruits need care.  Careful pruning, natural or chemical fertilizers, working the soil around them and keeping encumbering weeds and seedlings from coming up around them.  They look idyllic, but they take work.

There are so many fruit crops available, and there are a million seed and plant companies sending out catalogues this time of year.

There are all the standard fruits: Pears, peaches, cherries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, cranberries, currents and gooseberries(where legal) and rhubarb(Kind of a half fruit).

There are also some unusual fruits that should be considered.  Dwarf Nanking cherries, Gogi berries, Lingon Berries, persimmons, apricots, etc., etc., etc..  Many of these unusual fruits could thrive in your area.  Be very careful and ask a multitude of questions about what will survive in your area.  In the north, you may find that stone fruits that say they will do well in your area may be fine for several years then need to be replaced...frost at odd times, split trunks etc.. Do your homework, and ask people in the area what they have tried and what successes and failures they have had.

Remember that if there comes an emergency situation there may be no source of pesticides that make fruits practical to grow.  You may be able to spray with cigarette teas till the tobacco runs out.  But the bottom line is that you need to be aware that your chances of growing pest free fruit can be pretty slim.  My mother always said... "Just cut around them", when a worm was found in the jelly apples.

Study organic methods before you begin the work of putting in an orchard.  You may be better off to form a community of people that will specialize in one form of agriculture so that you can trade amongst yourselves rather than trying to do everything on your own.  Though everyone should have at least one apple and some rhubarb.

If you are up for preserving fruits,  you may be able to get by with the easy fruits, like high bush blueberries for instance.  My grandmother's pear tree stood and bore fruit for decades and decades with little care and few pests.

Beach plums and rose hips are a good answer to fruit shortages. Plant plenty of Rugosa roses and get into the habit of picking off the bugs by hand and washing them away with soap and water.

You can get fruit trees and nut trees(another source of free food) from any number of catalogues, but I want to mention just one that stands out in my mind for fruit, and especially apples.  That is Fedco, based in Maine, they have a fascinating catalogue if you can get one, and the on line site is great too.
they are at:

and they have a separate catalogue for other trees and fruits.  They are in black and white, but they are wonderful to read, not just to order from.

Keep in mind that most fruit trees may not breed true from seed, so you may wish to learn to graft trees.  This is a fascinating art and will produce fine results for even the beginner.

Also remember that fruit trees may take several years to bear, and may take a decade to produce well.  Start today! and start or graft new trees every couple of years so that as the old trees begin to fail, new trees will take their place.

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