I'm curious if anyone is interested in backyard fruit growing. I have an average size suburban yard. I've been developing a small "backyard orchard" by reading and trial-and-error. Rather than a couple of full size or semi-dwarf fruit trees, I have dwarf and superdwarf trees, vines, bushes that yield fruit over an entire summer and into the fall. It's not perfect, and it takes some effort. The effort is not a bad thing, it is a form of meditative puttering.
Currently, we have:
3 super-dwarf apple trees.
2 bear about 3 pounds of fruit per season. One is "fruitless". They are still quite young, so I have some hope for larger crops.
1 "flagpole" apple tree
. This one occupies about 4 sq feet of ground space, and is 8 feet tall. The fruit are good, but not very produtive. I need to work on my pruning methods. Last year there were about 25 apples on this tree.
3 genetic dwarf peaches
. Peaches require special treatment in my climate due to disease. I've learned how to get a reasonable crop, enough for a household of 2 ravenous peach lovers, and prevent leaf-curl disease.
1 muiltigraft pear.
The multigraft allows for pear production without having to buy a pollinating tree We have been eating pears for the past 2 weeks, every day.
5 sweet cherry trees.
My partner loves cherries, and eats them by the bowl-full.
5 fig trees. My success with figs is mixed. The trees are young, cutting-grown. I think that this year will be great, 4 of the trees have 30 to 50 figs each. The summer crop was small but tasted wonderful, and worth the effort.
5 grape vines
on an arbor. This takes almost no garden space, since the arbor covers a pre-existing deck. Another vine over a gate, again occupies essentially no garden space.
Multiple berry bushes and plants
The "Backyard Orchard Culture" method
involves, keeping fruit trees or vines pruned to small size, so that they take less room. In addition, the small trees are often planted close together, which results in a dwarfing effect. The trees are kept pruned short enough that no ladder is needed for harvest. The trees are summer pruned, which restricts growth and encourages formation of flower buds.
This year we added 2 Asian plum trees and a multigraft Asian pear. We may get a taste next summer, but it will probably require another year to get a few bowls of fruit from each. I love fresh Asian pears this time of year, and they keep better than the European dessert pears. We also added a tart cherry, for frost resistance and prolonged bearing. For next year, I'm perusing a catalog for an long-bearing mulberry tree, and a couple more miniature apples.
Home grown fruit is often so much sweeter and more flavorful, compared to store-bought, that there is no comparison. The grapes are almost like candy. The berries are sweeter and juicer than anythign from the store. Fruits take longer than veggies, but they are worth the time and effort. It's like living in my own eden.
If there is interest in comparing methods, varieties, successes, failures, pruning methods, I would love to discuss more. Obviously, growing fruits is one of my personal gardening passions. I would also be willing to trade cuttings (grapes, figs) or scionwood (apples, pears), if anyone is interested.