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Backyard Fruit Orchard


Dad's fruit orchard
Growing up, the beginning of summer was often marked by fresh fruit off the fruit trees lining the backyard of my parents’ house. My Dad planted a row of fruit trees right along the fence line, it was a little buffer, if you will, between the house and the walnut orchard. We had everything from apricots, plums, peaches, nectarines, apples, figs, cherries, pomegranates and so much more. They made for a perfect afternoon treat when playing in the the backyard and my Dad loved picking the fruit and giving it away to friends and family. 

There is just something about backyard fruit that tastes so much better than store bought. Being able to pick the fruit right off the tree and enjoy it within seconds, it is just magical. I always knew I wanted that same experience in a fruit orchard when I grew up too. At our old house in town we had planted a nectarine, plum, lemon, and tangerine. We had just started being able to eat the fruits of our labor when we moved. In fact, I stripped the lemon and made a big batch of lemon juice right before we moved. I am still enjoying the frozen lemon cubes in our water when we make a big batch of ice water. 

Now, in our new homestead we knew we were going to plant a fruit orchard soon so we could enjoy the fruit as soon as possible. We had a perfect open spot in the back of our homestead that was empty. Between our chicken coop and the old ranch house was just empty dirt. The previous owners had a horse round pen, that we removed when we bought the place. Now, I am hoping all that manure and hay in the soil will act as a bit of growing aid to our fruit orchard.

Preparation

My farmer husband and I sat down one day in early spring and wrote a list of all our favorite fruit, what we thought would grow well in our area, and narrowed it down to 20-30 options. As I said, the ground before had been a round pen for horses. Needless to say, it was compacted. The husband brought home a backhoe one day in March and loosened up the soil where the trees would be planted. Planting in freshly tilled soil helps to enable the root zone penetration and growth. 

We plotted out enough space for three rows 15 feet apart. We wanted enough space between the rows so we could get a small tractor through if necessary. Our almond orchards are planted 22 feet apart, backyard fruit trees won’t get quite as big, but tractor feasibility was important to us, for mowing or dirt work and utilizing the existing equipment we have on the farm. 
important to work up the ground where the root zone will grow

Placement

lay out where you want trees, before you plant
So once the ground was worked up. Next was tree placement. We did some calculations and went with 10 feet spacing in row. We had roughly 70 feet of row spacing in the area, so if we stuck with 10 feet we could fit 7 trees down one row.  So, every 10 feet we would place a tree down the rows. Our overall spacing ended up being 15 feet between rows and 10 feet down the rows. We marked the area out and now were ready to get the trees. 

Selection

We headed to a series of nurseries to see what we could find. We knew we wanted a mixture of stone fruit and citrus with a few other favorites too. We also knew we wanted two different varieties of most stone fruit to extend the growing season through summer. 

Here is what we mapped out once we picked out the trees and were ready to plan:
Row
Row 2
Row 3
Bartlett Pear
Snow Giant White Peach
Zutano Avocado
Asian Pear
O'Henry Peach
Pinkerton Avocado
Gala Apple
Donut Peach
Minneola Tangelo
Anna Apple
Independence Nectarine
Clementine Mandarin
Black Mission Fig
Arctic Star White Nectarine
Lisbon Lemon
Santa Rosa Plum
Blenheim Royal Apricot
Bearss Lime
Elephant Heart Plum
Katy Apricot
Buddha Hands

We were so excited to mix in apples, pears, figs, plums, peaches, nectarines, apricots, avocado, mandarins, lemon, limes and citron. 

The kids had such a good time picking out the trees, learning how to plant the trees, and of course watering the trees after we planted. The husband had to teach the kiddos how to plant- it was a great educational time to talk about tree placement in the hole, have the tree lean against the wind, and teaching them to importance of watering them.

Need some Planting 101 Basics too?
 

It took us a few weeks of watering them in but we were able to add drip irrigation to the orchard as well. It really is preferred to not give them a sudden flood of water but provide them the same amount of water over a longer period. This allows the roots to take up water slowly and not flood the root zone. Wet feet is term for roots being flooded and it can hurt the trees as they grow. 

We can’t wait to get some fresh fruit off these trees. It will definitely be a work on patience as we will wait a few years until they start production, but man we are excited for that day to come!
Have you thought about a backyard fruit orchard?

Maybe you already planted a backyard fruit orchard?

What questions do you have about growing backyard fruit trees?


Until Next Time,
Almond Girl Jenny 

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