Whenever giving advice to new homesteaders, I always recommend that the first thing a person should do is plant fruit trees and berry bushes on their property.
Before you plant a garden.
Before you get chickens, or a goat.
There are so many different fruits you can grow, and almost every single one of them will come back year after year. The thing about fruits, though, is that they typically take about three years before you get anything from them. So the sooner you plant them, the better.
Before we planted fruit trees, I took for granted that an apple tree would have apples on it. It wasn’t anything special to me. Oh look, there’s an apple tree. It has apples on it. Nothing amazing about that, right? But now that I understand that fruit on a fruit tree is not a guarantee, every new bud, every forming morsel is a little miracle.
There are so many variables which can affect how well your trees or bushes perform. Pests can invade your plants. A lack of rain, or too much rain, can damage them. An unusually warm Spring, followed by a cold snap can really hurt your harvest. The reality is, just because you have fruit trees it doesn’t mean you’ll always get fruit from them.
That’s why it’s so exciting to me when I walk around and find so many growing fruits and berry clusters on our plants. They’re producing! I still have to consider that the animals might get to my harvest before I do. Wildlife seems to know the exact moment a fruit is fully ripened, and is very bad about swooping in and picking a plant clean before the sun has even risen. But if I keep a close eye, and am diligent to harvest at just the right time, I might… just might… be able to enjoy some of the fruits of my labor.
This is why I would recommend that you plant more than you think you’ll need, and plant more than just one of each type of plant. Not only do many fruits need another variety to cross-pollinate with, but there’s no promise that the one you have will always do well. If you have the room, play it safe and plant a little extra. If everything you put in does well, then you can always use the bumper crop as a means of a little extra income, a bartering tool, or a way to bless those in need.
What you can grow depends upon your hardiness zone. Once you know what zone you’re in, you can determine which plants do well in your area. You might also ask local farmers which varieties they’ve found grow best where you are. It’s also a good idea to buy plants from local growers when possible, because chances are if it grows well for them, it will grow well for you.
Berry bushes and fruit trees make beautiful additions to edible landscapes. Consider replacing standard boxwood shrubs or non-producing shade trees with something that can nourish your family instead!
Do you have fruit trees or berry bushes planted around your home?