Home Orchard Development

Written by David S.

Growing your fruit is not difficult. Sure, there is a bit of work involved, but the rewards are repaid with every bite. Home orchards are very doable, even on small lots. This blog focuses on developing a home orchard, the products that help, and the trees that work best.

What Do You Need To Grow Fruit Trees? 
Containers – You can grow dwarf fruit trees in containers or decorative pots or grow them in the ground. 

Soil – Some varieties, such as citrus, may require soil amending products to raise or lower the soil’s pH or help the soil hold water, especially in pots. Most require well-draining soil, which is easy to achieve with soil amendments. 

Maintenance: A few tools that help with orchard care include loppers, hand shears, and a pruning saw. The folding pull saws are easy to use and store. 

That’s about all you need to start an orchard. The next step is tree selection, and the good news is that there are many varieties of trees that bear fruit.

Fruit Trees for Zones 9-11 
Citrus is an excellent place to start. You can grow Meyer lemon, mandarin orange, giant pummelo, sweet clementine, and many others. Be sure to stop by your local Green Thumb Nursery to check the massive selection of citrus. 

Avocado – Persea americana is a good option. 

Starfruit – Averrhoa carambola – delicious and sweet. 

Guava – Good through zone 11

Kiwi – Vining – you will likely need both a male and female plant. 

Apples  – Pink Lady, Anna and and Dorsette Apples are good options for zone 9. 

Apricots – Gold Kist, Katy and Blenheim excellent choices

Cherries – Royal Crimson, Minnie Royal and Royal Lee cherries are good low chill varieties for Southern California 

Figs – Black Mission, Brown Turkey and Kadota are good bets. 

Peaches – Mid Pride, Bonita and August Pride are fantastic. 

Nectarines – Double Delight or Desert Delight are good choices, but there are many other delicious low chill varieties.

Pears and plums round out the fruit options. Olives are another tree that bears fruit and does well in warm to hot climates. 

Mango – Zone 10

Papaya – Zone 10

As the list shows us, the choices for growing your fruit in zone 9 are well stocked. Some trees will do better in zone 10 or 11, such as mango and papaya. Because there are so many options, be sure to check the tags about hardiness zones and where fruit trees do best. Some fruit-bearing trees require a certain number of cold days to thrive and produce fruit. In the late winter and early spring, bare-root trees are available. During spring, early summer, and fall, you can plant trees that are already in pots (not bare-root), and they should do just fine with some extra care until they establish themselves. 

Dwarf Trees for Small Spaces
Dwarf fruit trees do just fine in small spaces. Whether you plant them in the ground or keep them in a pot, you can add more to your orchard by focusing on dwarf varieties. With excellent pruning, you can keep fruit trees small, even those that are not dwarf varieties. Espalier pruning allows you to keep the width of the tree at a minimum and will enable them to grow flat along a wall or building without blocking a walkway. The technique allows you to plant additional trees in smaller spaces.  

Grow what you love and enjoy the benefits of a home orchard. For food preserving, pay attention to yield size and the number of trees per person. Fruit trees are fantastic for home production of jams, jellies, pie filling, drying, and of course, for eating the best fruit right off the tree. 

Products that Help with Fruit Tree Development
The proper-sized pot is essential. A root-bound tree is prone to disease and other issues. Soil amendment products such as EB Stone for Citrus is an excellent example of a soil product that enables you to create the perfect growing medium for your tree selection.  Also, be keen on pollination. Some trees, such as apples, may require another tree for pollination. 

Be sure to start with excellent soil. Organic compost and aged manure products are vital. Well-draining soil is also a must for most fruit trees. Trees in containers may need more support and extra watering, and both will result in their location during the hotter parts of the summer. Organic fertilizers teas can help with fruit development. Teas with less nitrogen and more phosphorus and potassium are an excellent addition when the trees begin to flower and produce fruit. Nitrogen does a lot for plants, and phosphorus and potassium help with fruit and flower production. Aim for a 5-10-10 formula during fruiting or a 10-20-20 for older trees. Green Thumb Nursery carries various organic compost teas that are easy to use, won’t harm the tree and are bee friendly.

Another excellent product to add to your orchard are mason bees. These little metallic blue bees are made for orchards. You don’t need a bunch of expensive equipment to add to your yard. They are solitary bees and do not swarm like honey bees or wasps. They pretty much mind their own business and work hard to pollinate your fruit trees. They live in small tubes, which you can hang along a fence in a protected area. They will fill the tubes with mud plugs and lay their eggs inside for overwintering. These bees, beautiful as they are, also are not aggressive. You will barely notice they are there. 

Be sure to stop by the nurseries here at Green Thumb, explore the options for tree selection, and take a few minutes to chat with our plant experts about trees, products, and tools.

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