The decision to grow your own fruit is an easy one because it’s delicious and economical, however there are other considerations to take into account. First, do you have the space to grow fruit trees? Also, for most fruit you have to plant two to cross-pollinate. This means that to grow pears you need two different kinds of pear trees; an apple tree won’t pollinate a pear. All fruit needs at least 6 hours of direct sun per day and well-drained soil amended with peat moss, manure, or compost. Last, fruit trees require an ongoing spray program to control insects and disease if you wish to produce a healthy crop of fruit that is edible.
Apple, Pear, Sweet Cherry, Plum
To produce fruit, these trees need a second variety to cross-pollinate. In other words, if Bartlett is your favourite pear you have to plant another kind of pear, like Anjou, to set fruit on both.
To grow Japanese Plums you have to plant two different kinds of Japanese Plum. You can’t Cross a Japanese Plum with a European Plum. While most European Plums are self-pollinating, they benefit from having another European Plum in the vicinity. In this case, you can’t use a Japanese Plum.
The specific variety of sweet cherry called Stella is classified as self-pollinating but you will have a better yield with another variety of cherry planted nearby.
Apples can be pollinated by a Crab Apple, eliminating the need for a second apple tree. In all cases, if your neighbour has 1 of these types of fruit trees that aren’t self-pollinating, you don’t need to establish a second tree in your garden. Bees travel easily from one yard to another. Another option for small properties is to purchase what’s called a 4-in-1 fruit tree where four different varieties have been grafted onto a single trunk. For instance, you can grow four different kinds of apple on one tree.
For these fruit trees you only need to plant one. They’re called “self-pollinating.” They’re very practical for small spaces if you literally have room for just one fruit tree.
Two different kinds of blueberries need to be planted for the best fruit production. Blueberries require an acidic soil so work a lot of peat moss into the area before planting. They love lots of sun. Set plants 1 m – 1.5 m (4’ – 5’) apart. A real bonus with blueberries in addition to terrific tasting fruit is their brilliant autumn foliage colour.
Everbearing and June-bearing strawberries like a sunny location, in soil to which you’ve added compost and peat moss. Good drainage is critical because strawberries won’t tolerate wet soil. A layer of mulch like straw or cedar mulch around plants helps to control weeds, provides winter protection, and protects blossoms from late spring frost. Since fruit production declines in the second and third year, it’s a good idea to make additional plantings each year.
Plant raspberries in sun. Amend the soil with peat moss, manure or compost. Position the canes 45 cm (18”) apart in rows 1 m (3’) apart. “Everbearing” raspberries such as Heritage produce fruit every year in late summer/early fall on new canes. They are all pruned to the ground each autumn. All the other raspberries produce fruit on canes that have grown for 2 years. Since these thicker canes never produce fruit again, they need to be cut out at ground level once the harvest is complete, leaving the thinner one-year old canes that will bear fruit next year.
Currants & Gooseberries
These fruits are self-pollinating so one plant will suffice. They prefer well-drained, fertile soil. Amend the soil with peat moss, manure or compost. Position currants singly or 60 cm – 100 cm (2’-3’) apart, in rows 125 cm (4’) apart. Gooseberries can be established as a single bush or 100 cm – 125 cm (3’- 4’) apart. Currants and gooseberries flower and produce fruit on last year’s wood so don’t prune them in the spring. After 3 or 4 years when the older wood becomes less productive, thin out branches to encourage new growth when fruiting has finished for the season.