Saturday, July 16, 2016

Fruit for small spaces

Orange tree on the left, fig in the center, kumquat on right
Saturday, July 16, 2016

There are many options for growing your own fruit in small spaces today and more come on the market every year.

We are growing apples, figs, passion fruit, goji berries, strawberries, kumquats, and oranges.  The kumquat and orange trees are growing in the house during the winter and taken outside each spring.

You have 3 options with apple trees.  You can grow columnar apple trees which do great in pots (this is the kind we have), you can purchase a dwarf apple tree that you can espalier against a wall, or you can put an apple tree in your landscape.  Apple trees require full sun and either a second apple tree or crabapple tree in the neighborhood to pollinate with to get fruit.  Apples are ready to harvest in summer, fall or winter, depending on the variety.  Our “Scarlet Sentinel” columnar apple tree ripens in late September.

A fig tree is cool looking and very easy to grow either in the landscape or in a pot.  We had ours in a pot for 5 years and recently put it in the ground.  We got great fruit from it throughout the summer.

Ripe figs
If you decide to put your fig in a pot, this will lower the zone it can survive the winter in by at least one zone.  You can always bring the fig in for the winter, either into your home or a garage.  We have a a “Chicago Hardy” fig that is hardy to Zone 6.  It can grow to a height of 25 feet if planted in the ground.

You can eat your figs fresh, dry them or make them into preserves.  Growing “exotic” figs

“Maypop” is a hardy passion flower vine that survives down to Zone 5.   It is a very hardy vine so either grow it in a pot or make sure it is blocked off from being able to expand into other areas.  They taste a lot like guavas and their flowers are beautiful.

I grew the goji berry vine from seed.  Goji berries are high in antioxidants and easy to grow.  They are self fertile so only one is needed to produce fruit.  They are a vining shrub that can grow 8-10 feet at maturity.  If you keep them in a pot, they will remain smaller.  They are hardy down to Zone 6.

Strawberries are another easy to grow perennial fruit.  They prefer full sun and should be planted in the spring.  There are two types of strawberries, June bearing or Everbearing.  June bearing have one large harvest in early summer whereas the everbearing types produce berries from spring through fall.  They enjoy a rich soil so plant with lots of compost and bone meal.  If they begin to decline in production after 4 years, plant new plants in a different area of the garden.
Back yard strawberries  

There are a couple of blueberries that are compact and acceptable for small landscapes, “Draper” and “Tophat.”  Draper is a bush that grows to 3-4 feet.  Tophat is a nice little bush that can easily be grown in a pot.  It grows to a mere 16-24” high.  Blueberries require an acidic soil, a pH of 4-4.5.  Blueberries are self pollinating, but you will get a lot more fruit if you plant two bushes.  You get fruit in the summer.  If you have an extra, you can easily freeze or dry.

Honeyberry is another fruiting bush and they bear in late spring/early summer, as early as two weeks prior to strawberries.  They are a blue oval type berry and is hardy in Zones 2-8.  The “Smokey Blue” reach 3-4 feet in height, making them a good candidate for a pot as well.  They are high in antioxidants and taste similar to blueberries.  Two are needed for pollination for fruiting.  No special soil type is needed, but prefer partial shade.

Strawberry
Another fruit for small spaces is kiwi and they are hardy for Zones 3-9.  These are vines that can grow to 10-20 feet.  You can use these over an harbor or on a fence.  A male and female are required.  They prefer a part sun location.  The foliage of the Artic Beauty is beautifully variegated with pink, white and green leaves.  These vines fruit in September.

For raspberry lovers, the “Shortcake” variety is a thornless dwarf that grows to a 2-3 foot mound.  It can easily be grown in a pot and is self fertile so only one plant is needed to bear fruit.  It is hardy in Zones 5-9 and fruits in mid-summer.  Both raspberries and blackberries prefer full sun.

“Doyle’s” thornless blackberry plant can be grown in a pot and can produces enormous harvests of fruit.  In the ground it can reach heights of 7 feet.  It is hardy in Zones 3-10 and bears fruit in the spring to early summer.  Another option is the dwarf red blackberry which grows to 1.5 feet in height. 

A slow growing fruit tree that reaches a height of 12-15 feet is a native to North America is the pawpaw.  It tastes tropical with a banana/mango like flavor.  It is also high in protein, vitamins and minerals and hardy to Zone 5.  The fruits weigh around a pound each and are ready to pick in late summer/early fall.  Two plants are required for the tree to bear fruit.  Foraging for wild edibles
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