Getting Started

Home fruit gardening offers many benefits—exercise, enjoyment, a supply of delicious fruits, enhancement of the home landscape, and a truly educational experience.

There is, however, more to growing fruit than simply planting the crop and harvesting the fruit. Backyard growers and hobbyists must consider cultural requirements and solve pest problems throughout the year.

Throughout the guide, the symbol '+' will be used to indicate a method for reducing chemical inputs in fruit production. Some of these methods are as simple as choosing the right variety to plant, removing diseased fruit, or pruning the plants to allow better air circulation. To use such strategies, however, the grower must have a complete understanding of the fruit planting as an entire system. Information in this publication will help you prevent or minimize common cultural and pest problems and will enable you to harvest succulent, fresh fruit.

Plenty of sunlight is a key to maximizing fruit production. While some fruit plants can survive in partial shade, most require direct sunlight to fuel the energyintensive fruit-production process.

Before you order plants for your orchard or vineyard, you should determine whether you will have to plant more than one variety to provide for pollination. Generally, all fruit plants grown in Pennsylvania require pollination to produce fruit.

The pollination characteristics of several fruit crops are listed below. Those fruits listed as "self-fertile" will set fruit with their own pollen, and therefore require you to plant only one variety or plant. In general, however, all plants produce more fruit when two or more varieties are planted close to each other.

Purchase well-grown, heavily rooted, one-year-old plants of all fruits except blueberries and brambles. Two-year-old blueberry plants are recommended.

The following suggestions will help you to successfully plant fruit trees.

The soil in which our plants grow is a complex material. Its consistency and makeup have a marked influence upon plants. Soil provides support for the plant and is also the storehouse for plant nutrients, water, and oxygen for root growth.

Although the total amount of nutrients in the soil is important, the balance among them can be even more critical. Too much of a nutrient can be just as bad as too little.

One of the great benefits of growing fruit in the home garden is the ability to harvest the fruit according to individual taste.