Plan Before You Plant.

Fruit and nut trees are longer term investments than annual vegetables, and deserve more planning.  It's no fun planting a fruit tree and tending it patiently for several years only to find that you planted the wrong variety, or put it on the wrong soil or site, or never planted a pollinizer.  If all of your fruit ripens at the same time you'll find yourself overwhelmed with produce for a few weeks and little the rest of the year; plan for a succession of ripening and you'll have fresh produce year round. Follow these tips on selecting fruit trees and you'll avoid these pitfalls and ensure an abundant harvest for your efforts.

If you have some experience with berries and  fruit and nut trees then planning and planting a food forest can be as simple as selecting favorite varieties that do well in your area. If you lack experience or just want to try some new and unfamiliar varieties, then read through this section for some tips.

Start by observing and researching – have a look around and see what’s already growing in your area. Talk to your neighbors and county agricultural extension to find out what does well in your area. Pay attention to your site, the patterns of sun, wind and frosts. Look for the microclimates, cold spots, hot spots and sheltered areas.

What’s Your Limiting Factor? - Find out what condition has the most limiting effect on fruit growing in your area, and keep this in mind when making your choices. Do you esperience extreme summer heat?  Are you in the fog belt?  On high elevation sites it may be extreme winter cold that limits you, while some coastal areas do not get enough chill for certain fruits such as cherries and filberts. Once you’ve determined your limiting factor(s) you can make choices accordingly. Choose hardy varieties for extreme cold, low chill, disease resistant varieties for cool, damp climates etc. Make the most of your site and climate. Extended rain and fog in coastal areas may contribute to disease problems in tree fruit, but is ideal for berries. If you’re on the coast, consider Japanese plums, berries and early to mid-season disease resistant apple. Avoid the late season fruit that requires a lot of heat to ripen.

Make a Wish List

This part's easy - simply make a list of all the plants you want to grow - may as well start with what you love.  Go through gardening books and nursery catalogs and make a list of your favorite fruits, nuts and berries.  Want to try cold hardy avocadoes or bananas?  Go ahead and dream a little, we'll get practical in the next step.  

Do Your Reseach

Once you've made your wish list it's time to do your research.  Use the links below or in the sidebar to work your way through each of these topics.  Under Layout & Design we'll talk about pulling all of this information togeher into a checklist or a matrix.