Fruit Trees and Backyard Farming

apple tree

If one is serious about producing a large quantity of truly organic produce within a small space, then fruit trees are absolutely essential.

The advantages of fruit trees in your backyard farm garden far outweigh the disadvantages. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of fruit trees:

  • Fruit trees, contrary to popular belief, require very little maintenance. It’s a tree.
  • A mature fruit tree produces a huge quantity of produce!  For example, one dwarf or semi dwarf apple tree can easily produce well over 100 pounds of apples per year. You will likely have two trees since most fruit trees need two different varietals in order to pollinate one another. That’s a lot of apples!
  • There are lots of different types of fruit trees that grow well in temperate climates. Apples, peaches, plums, nectarines, pears, and cherries can all be grown in Northern Ohio for example.
  • Fruit trees form an essential part of a permaculture food forest. They can be planted with other plants to form beneficial guilds. See our article on permaculture zones (here).
  • Each fruit tree produces for years and years.

As with anything, there are disadvantages to having fruit trees in the backyard farm garden. Some of these may include:

  • Fruit trees can be pretty expensive to purchase upfront, and likely for the fruit that you want, you will have to buy two of each. For example if you want apples, this means planting 2 separate apple trees (different varieties as well) that will bloom at the same time of year in order to cross pollinate. Tip: Sour Cherry trees don’t require 2 plants.

    backyard fruit trees sour cherry

    This tiny sour cherry tree produced about 50 sour cherries the first season

  • Growing from seed is not really an option for a number of reasons, one being that it takes years and years for a seed to grow into a fruit producing tree. Professional fruit tree dealers are the way to go, despite the upfront cost. We have provided some links at the bottom of this article for purchasing fruit trees from our partners. Another great resource to check out is our partners at The Tree Center (link below).
  • Backyard fruit trees take up much more space than vegetables and cast shade over areas that could be used to produce more vegetables. (although once established, you will get a lot more food per square inch of land with fruit trees)
  • It could be a year or more before your transplanted tree begins to produce. They are a longer term investment.

With regard to space, we use dwarf and semi dwarf trees in our backyard.  Additionally, most fruit trees can be pruned to be very small if desired.  They can even be espaliered and trained to grow flat against a fence or wall.

We have seen permaculture folks grow huge numbers of fruit trees in average sized yards. Think of how many of these one could plant along a border:

backyard fruit trees apple espalier

An Apple tree that has been espaliered to grow flat against a wall

As an example of just how many fruit trees one can fit in a typical backyard, check out this video where they have over 60 fruit trees on 1/8 of an acre with leftover space to plant more. {note: they are in a tropical environment and so some of these trees are not able to be grown in temperate environments, but the concept is still valid}

If you are interested in ordering fruit trees, please see our partners at The Tree Center (here) for a great selection of fruit trees. Also check out the links below to Amazon’s selection of live fruit trees. The ideal time to plant them is in Spring and Fall. {but we have planted in the middle of Summer with no issues} Give fruit trees a try! Producing one’s own fruit is wildly satisfying.

backyard fruit trees apple

One of our Dwarf Apple trees. It started producing after one season

Fruit trees also make make wonderful, creative gifts!

Check out these products as well!

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One thought on “Fruit Trees and Backyard Farming

  • David Rohl

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