What would you plant? (fruit)

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by fransean, Sep 27, 2006.

  1. fransean

    fransean Well-Known Member

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    I am starting to plan my garden on our land in Michigan. We currently live in IL but are moving to MI next year. We have a house in town and 10 vacant acres outside of town (zone 5). I have started to read all I can and have realized that I will need to start planting fruit trees soon if I want them productive by the time we actually live on our land.

    I am interested in apples, peaches, pears in addition to cherries, blueberries and strawberries. This land used to be part of a strawberry farm and the soil is some kind of loam.

    I have never grown fruit of any kind before so this is all new to me.

    Where do you get your fruit trees/bushes from? How do you know what varieties will work best?

    We are going up to our land in a few weeks and I do plan on visiting the county extension office there in town and there is supposed to be a farmers market that I plan on visiting for more information.

    Any information would be very helpful at this stage. :help:

    Thanks :)
    Bev
     
  2. arbutus

    arbutus Well-Known Member

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    Can I ask the whereabouts in MI? I grew up north of Ann Arbor and live north of Grand Rapids now.

    I have planted apples, cherries, pears, peaches, and walnuts, all are growing, but none are mature yet. I planted a few blueberry bushes this year, we'll see how those do. I also have red and black raspberries that are doing well.

    My neighbor has producing apple, pear, and plum trees. Peaches died on him so he planted cherries instead.

    We are in a zone 4 microclimate area that collects all the cold air that rolls off the "Fruit Ridge" where there are many successful commercial orchards.

    Growing up my dad had apples, cherries, peaches, and walnuts that did very well. He never had luck with pears or plums (probably soil related). My great grandfather had a farm in the thumb and had great apple, peach, pear, plum, and cherry trees, plus grapes and raspberries.


    Cherry trees Must be sprayed weekly in hot humid weather with Kaptan or they will get some sort of fungus, drop all their leaves and die. I had a problem with some sort of bug eating all the leaves off of my pears this year too, those had to be sprayed with an insecticide every week for the month of July. I had to water the trees a lot two years ago because we didn't get a drop of rain for 6 weeks, while 20 miles south of us got rain every other evening. This year we got a good soaking every week during the summer, but orchards 20 miles south of us had a hard time this summer because of lack of rain. Take these things into account when planning and planting.


    Take a look at nurseries local to your location. Order a few catalogs from fruit tree nurseries to get a feel for appropriate prices.

    MSU has a great extension website with a lot of Michigan specific information:
    http://www.msue.msu.edu/portal/
     

  3. turtlehead

    turtlehead Well-Known Member

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    Fruit trees generally need 3 to 5 years from planting to production so yes the sooner you plant the better. Fall is planting time for fruit trees so your timing is perfect.

    Here is what I'm doing (planning my own little orchard now) -- I am consulting a chart in the beginning of "Stocking Up III" by Rodale. They list varieties of all kinds of fruits and veggies that are good for preserving in some fashion, and they list if they're good for storage, canning, freezing, drying. So I'm reading up on the varieties the book recommends for stocking up (because that's why I want an orchard) and picking the ones that are hardy, disease resistant, etc.

    We tried to start an orchard last fall but we planted the trees in the valley the house is in, in the field north of the house. It does NOT drain up there and 4 out of 10 trees died; the other six are struggling. A lot of money and work, down the tubes. This time we're planting where the drainage is good.

    There are no nurseries in the area unless you count Home Depot over an hour away, so we mail order ours. We ordered from Stark Brothers last year and were well pleased, so are using them again this year.
     
  4. Maura

    Maura Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I have been happy with Oikos Nursery in Kalamazoo (zoo zoo). They will send you a catalog. You can also talk to the owner on the phone and he can give yo advice. www.oikostreecrops.com

    You might also want to consider hickory nut bushes.
     
  5. MELOC

    MELOC Master Of My Domain

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    i love fruit from fruit trees but i hate the fact that you cannot grow fruit trees and expect to have much unless you spray. i hate spraying anything. i opt for native brambles. i have black raspberry and blackberry brambles. i also have strawberries that seem to do ok with no spray. i may try blueberries as well as they seem rather hardy.

    i may still tinker with apples and pears. they are highly productive and seemingly hardy. they still need sprayed if you don't want wormy pomes. cherries and peaches have proven themselves to be more trouble than they are worth IMHO. they are so fickle. you can get canker, plum pox virus and a host of other maladies really easy. the birds like to rob you as well. if i were to plant anymore stone fruit trees, it would be stanley plums.
     
  6. zealot

    zealot Soli Deo Gloria

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    Grow pawpaws. Known facetiously as "Michigan bananas", these trees yield mango-size or larger fruit and need no pest spraying. You just have to watch out while transplanting that you do not damage the taproot of the young tree.
     
  7. WisJim

    WisJim Well-Known Member Supporter

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    You CAN grow apples, pears, cherries, etc., without spraying in many parts of the country. Check around for local "hobbyiest" growers who are unwilling to accept the going recommendations for spraying etc without finding out for themselves, and see what can be grown with minimal inputs.
     
  8. anniew

    anniew keep it simple and honest Supporter

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    I am in NE Pennsylvania in zone 5 (used to be zone 4 but with warmer winters, it is 5 at least for now). I have all the common fruit trees growing. My biggest problem is no fruit yet from apples--they take longer. This year there are fruit on three pear trees about 50 per tree although one had about 20 (an asian type).
    The peaches and plums only produce about once in three years due to spring frosts and/or bad weather at pollination time. If it is below 55 degrees or windy or rainy, honey bees don't fly, so that is a problem (like last year). The main pest problem with these two is brown rot (of the fruit). I don't spray, and found that thinning the fruit has given me better results. Peaches should be thinned to 8 inches apart and plums to about 4 inches. I still had brown rot, but not so much and because the fruit wasn't touching, it didn't spread so fast. I got many quarts of plums from my two producing trees (Shiro variety, a sweet, juicy yellow plum). The peaches also produced this year...again one in three years. They were big, compared with the last time they produced, because I thinned these also.
    You can use dormant oil spray in the early spring/late winter to help combat insect problems. I haven't used it yet. It is acceptable for organic production, I think, and works by smoothering the insect eggs.
    Cherries have not done well for me. If they don't produce the next time around (when the winters don't kill all the fruit), I'll eliminate them.
    Good luck with your "orchard."
    Ann
     
  9. Danaus29

    Danaus29 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I grew peaches for years without spraying, Grandpa grew them before me and never sprayed. The only reason I didn't get peaches was because of the peach stealing squirrels!! If they didn't take them they'ld just sample them. Shot/relocated 10 in one season and still had 2 or 3 in the tree at all times! In Ohio peach trees are short lived because they get borers in the tree, which eventually kills the tree. Lost my 18 yo tree this spring. There are no treatments for borers. Just replant every 10 or so years, but not in the same exact location. I have a sour cherry tree that produces lots of fruit but the birds get all that. No bugs in what little bit I've managed to save. Currants and gooseberries are other fruits you can grow. There are apple producers that spray nothing except dormant oil on their trees and they still get lots of fruit. Gardens Alive has a clay powder that can be sprayed on fruit trees to prevent insect problems in fruit. The powder has no pesticides in it but I don't know if it can be considered certified organic. The best source for peaches is the local grower. Find a pick your own farm or a local orchard and buy some peaches. Save the pits and plant them. Young trees can be easily transplanted. Beware though, rabbits and deer like little peach trees. You'll have to fence them off for a few years.
     
  10. MELOC

    MELOC Master Of My Domain

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    there are apple trees that grow neglected on several people's property in my neighborhood. i have yet to get fruit that does not have little worms in them. the same holds true for the firm yellow cherry tree i have. it is hit or miss with that. i took my chances this year and ate them fresh...i was afraid to cook any for fear of seeing "floaties". i have never found worms in pears but i have never looked. i love ripe pears so i just enjoy them from my sister's tree.

    if one is opposed to spraying, and if you support spraying that is ok too, it just seems like pruning is a lot of work if you only get wormy fruit. fruit trees in general need a good bit of maintenance. if you don't keep up with the pruning, corrective pruning can result in disease because of the drastic cuts you need to eventually make.

    i live in an area where there was/perhaps is a ban on planting stone fruit trees because of a plum pox virus outbreak. i also live next to a state forest and have wild cherry trees on the property so i have a lot of black knot to eradicate. being next to state land makes it difficult to keep black knot from affecting stone fruits.

    my area also had/has a ban on currants and gooseberries due to rust or mosaic (i forget which). it can affect the state's pine population i hear.

    that leaves me brambles and strawberries and pome fruit. i guess blue berries too. the brambles can harbor rust and mosaic but they still produce good fruit if they survive.

    i just think it is a shame to invest 5 years + and many hours of pruning to just to get bad fruit or the need for spraying if you really would rather not spray. i think one needs to due some research before they make an investment in orchard stock.

    just my 2 cents...
     
  11. peacebaker

    peacebaker Well-Known Member

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    We're in Zone 4/5 (other side of the lake in WI) and we have apples, pears (just starting to produce), grapes, and raspberries. We started some trees in spring (purchased as bare-root, which is a good option if you're having them shipped, as they're dormant). We've also planted some potted up trees in the late summer/fall that have done well too.

    I don't like to spray, and haven't yet though I probably need to next year as my pears have some sort of fungus, and I do get a few wormy apples. One thing I'd probably "do over" if I could is buying disease resistant varieties. If you DO want to go organic or low-spray, I think this is a wise idea!

    Talking to locals and TASTING at the farmer's market is a good idea. Might as well grow things that you like, and that do well in your area!

    Do you have any problems with deer? That's something to consider if you don't live on-site as they love tender young trees and fruit, and that might be a problem if you're not around to "guard" them!

    Oh and don't forget to plant some RHUBARB, now that's easy to grow and very useful :)
     
  12. fransean

    fransean Well-Known Member

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    Wow! Thanks for all the responses :)
    Our land is in the UP and we definitely have deer there - have noticed spots where they lay down in the grass.
    At our house in town we already have a (neglected) apple tree that I have a lot of work to do on and some grape vines that are taking over everything.
    I would prefer to do this organically if possible and have been reading a little and the idea of disease resistant varieties appeal to me.
    I will be checking out all the websites/books and companies that have been listed here. I also enlisted my dad's help to research for me as he lives in MI now and knows a lot of farmers in his area.
    I had not thought about raspberries but since some of the strawberries are still growing wild on the land they should grow well too. I plan on digging up some of the scattered strawberry plants and relocating them "closer together" :)
    I did wonder if it would be okay to plant now, this fall, since we will not be back again until spring. Or possibly it would be better to order some bare root fruit trees to plant in the spring which will be closer to when we are actually moving.
    Since we are not living on the land yet and won't be for awhile even after we move what would be the best way to protect the trees from the wildlife?

    Thanks again for all the information and advice.........my brain is buzzing now.
    Bev
     
  13. anniew

    anniew keep it simple and honest Supporter

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    An 8-10 foot fence would be the sure way to protect from deer, or you could do individual fences around each tree.
    I have a 6 foot fence but there is another fence 6 feet out further from that, so it is a double fence. That has kept the deer out.
    Wrap the young trees with tree guard especially over winter so that rabbits, voles, etc. don't eat away the bark and kill the trees. Rabbits will run on top of the snow, so the guard should go up higher that the highest snow.
    You could live trap rabbits, woodchucks, etc. also.
    I think you should start small and get the hang of it first.
    Am not sure planting the renegade strawberries is the best idea. They are cheap enough to buy in quantity, and they will be named varieties that will come without diseases which yours may have from being there so long. The time spent digging yours up will eat up any savings in not buying them, in my opinion.
    Ann
     
  14. omnicat

    omnicat Well-Known Member

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    Cherry trees Must be sprayed weekly in hot humid weather with Kaptan or they will get some sort of fungus, drop all their leaves and die.

    I don't spray mine, and they're vigorous and healthy. Maybe it depends on your area?

    Also - dormant oil spray in the winter isn't a bad idea - but you CAN mix up your own!

    * 1 cup vegetable oil
    * 2 tablespoon liquid soap
    * 1 gallon water

    Easy Directions
    Combine the soap and oil and stir to blend thoroughly. Add the water a bit at a time, stirring as you go (water and oil don’t really emulsify; the soap helps the process). Pour the mixture into a clean garden spray container. Spray a coat of the mixture over the entire bark of a tree. Shake the container frequently as you are spraying.
    Makes 1 gallon, enough for one fruit tree.