Backyard fruit trees + fruit bushes guide.

June 25, 2020

Today’s post is written by Gabe. (The one with the green thumb.)

For me one of the most bittersweet things about leaving this amazing place is leaving behind all of my beloved fruit trees and bushes. I have put many joyful hours in my yard nurturing my wooded children, it’s difficult to say goodbye. I planted them for my kids, as picking and eating their own fruit produces such sweet memories for a child (pun intended). This is the first year that most of these amazing fruit varieties will give a good crop, and although it is hard to leave before seeing the literal fruits of our labor, I am very happy that they will be passed on to the next amazing owners to enjoy. So here is an update on my green beauties before we say goodbye.

Brown Turkey Fig – We planted three Brown Turkey Figs (pictured above), which have all done well. Two are located next to a fence giving them some winter protection while the third is located in an open area. The tree in the open area does experience some cold damage during the winter, but always has recovered well in the summer. It took two years to begin production. After the third year each tree began producing two crops of fruit, a smaller crop in early to mid summer and a larger crop in early fall.

Bonanza Patio Peach – These two compact beauties are my pride. They were the first plants we planted after moving into the house and have done very well. Compact and beautiful, I bought them as ornamental trees for the front landscape and they have become the centerpiece that get the most attention in the landscape. I get asked regularly what they are and where to find them. The Bonanza Patio produces striking spring color and sets full size super sweet and juicy edible peaches of amazing quality. In our area they require a regular spray schedule to protect the fruit against pests and fungi, but, like our Southern peach out back, they are well worth the extra work to produce such amazing fruit.  

Moonglow Pear – Our Moonglow pear has taken 3 years to produce. This is the first year it has set fruit and I am bummed we will be moving before having the chance to sample our first home grown Moonglow. It is apparently known for its fruit quality. Moonglows are not self fertile, and require a second pollinator tree of a compatible pear species. Be sure both pear trees bloom at the same time.

Keifer Pear – The Keifer pear took extremely well and is a rare example of a semi self fertile pear tree. It surprisingly set fruit in its first year after planting. This self pollinating fruit is hard and juicy, similar to an apple, but a bit grainy near the center. The fruit quality increases when cross pollinated with a compatible pear tree, such as a Moonglow. Unfortunately this is the first year that cross pollination has occurred, and we will not be able to compare fruit quality.  

Southern Peach – This beauty has taken quickly and grown even faster, even after being transplanted twice in three years. It sets an abundance of fruit after two to three years, but is susceptible to numerous pests and fungi. If you can stick to a regular spray schedule you will much more likely be able to produce quality fruit. If you can stay consistent with the extra work you will be well rewarded with some of the best possible peaches. 

Nanking Cherry – These have only been in the ground for a year, but are already growing quickly and I expect a good first crop of small bright red cherries to set next year. They seem to be super hardy, easily trimmed, and easy to maintain. Planting at least two is supposed to dramatically increase fruit production. 

Rocco refuses shirts in the summer, while Zel insists on wearing her Sunday best.

Paw Paw – Paw Paws are North America’s oldest native fruit tree. They take to the soil well, but require extra water for their first two years after planting while the roots are being established. Papaws are amazing slow growing compact trees that work anywhere in the landscape and I have found they do well in sun and partially shaded areas. They require two genetically different trees to produce fruit. They are pollinated by flies and beetles, so this year I hand pollinated some flowers to ensure that fruit set (hand pollination is super easy with a small artist’s paint brush). This is the first year that they set fruit at the same time, but again we won’t be able to enjoy the amazingly unique vanilla banana custard like fruit. They should not be picked off the tree, but fall off the tree when nearly ripe. Simply pick them up off the ground and wait until they finish ripening like a slightly brown banana before eating. I love these and will without a doubt be finding a place for them at our new house!

Blueberry bushes – We have six blueberry bushes, five of the 6 have done well, but only one has been in the ground more than 2 years. This older plant began producing well after three years, but most of the fruit has been pillaged by Rocco and Zel before anyone else can gather much. Little stinkers. I have found in our area it is critical to stick with a regular watering schedule while the bushes set their fruit. Also, blueberries like acidic soil, and it is important to check and amend the soil if necessary in order to ensure proper fruit production. 

Thornless Blackberry – We planted three thornless blackberry bushes the year after moving in. It took two years to fully establish. On the third year they started producing so many massive juicy black berries we couldn’t keep up with the production, even with 5 sets of eager hands picking daily. I highly recommend planting a bush or two!

Hope this helps encourage you to start a fruit bush or tree in your own backyards. The contribute to simple joys in life! If you have any questions, please let me know below:)

Leave a Comment

  • I’m so inspired by this post! Alas, I have a black thumb. What fruit trees do you recommend for folks like me who aspire to have homegrown fruits but can barely keep their house plans alive? (I live in southern California, if that makes a difference.)

    • Gabriel Liesemeyer

      Hi Jamie, thanks for the question and for letting me know where you are. It does help. You are in an idea climate for most fruit trees, just be sure you are getting trees that require less than 500 chill hours to set fruit. Be sure that they are getting plenty of water in their first two years after planting to give their roots plenty of time to develop. I would look into Valencia orange and golden nugget mandarin. In fact many types of citrus would do well. Figs should do very well as they are fairly drought tolerant and easy to maintain and can be heavily trimmed regularly in their off season to maintain desired size. Pomegranate should do very well as well as they are fairly pest and drought tolerant. If possible look for trees that are on “dwarf” as they will not get as large, but will still produce heavily. Nanking Cherry and goumi berry are two bushes that would do well also and can eaisly be trained into a small tree if desired with some simple pruning as it grows. You may also be able to do avacado and mango, although I am not familiar with they care they would need.

      THe following article is a good place to get started and it has some links to other resources to check out, especially the “California Garden Web” link found in the article.

      Hope this helps and I hope you enjoy your fruit journey!
      https://www.installitdirect.com/learn/fruit-trees-san-diego/

    • Linda cariveau

      In California growing avocado and lemons are a must ! Mangos as well

  • Elizabeth

    Quick question! We have a lot of deer and other animals, as our house backs up to the woods. Any recommendations for making sure animals and birds stay away or is that a lost cause? Also can you so fruit trees/bushes in pots? Thanks this is awesome!

    • Gabe Liesemeyer

      Hey Elizabeth, animals are always an issue in most places. For birds I know of people that have used fruit nets over their bushes or small trees to help protect the fruit. You can also use owl decoys that you move around the yard to help scare away the birds, but they need to be placed in a new position/location regularly to be effective. I have read that figs, pawpaw, and persimmon are somewhat deer resistant. You can successfully grow fruit and berries in pots outside, but you want to use specialized dwarf fruit tree varieties that have a good history of potting success and you need to make sure the pot is large enough to accommodate. Berries can do well in pots as well. Be sure you are on a regular watering and fertalization schedule or they will not properly produce. You will also need to make sure that the plants get the proper chill hours required to set fruit in your area.

      • Gabe Liesemeyer

        Also, look into a goumi berry (not goji) from what I have read the birds dont go after them and the deer seem to avoid due to small thorns (although the thorns dont seem to be an issue for kids/people) The plants are also natural nitrogen fixers for the soil and are supposedly easy to grow and very tasty. I have three I have ordered for our new home and am very excited to give them a try. I ordered mine from http://www.hiddenspringsnursery.com

        • Gabe Liesemeyer

          forgot to mention you will want at least two goumi plants to ensure proper fruiting.

  • This is great! What kind of spray do you use and what is the schedule like for that? Where do you order your fruit trees from? Do all of these prefer full/mostly sun? We live on the Georgia coast and don’t get many chill hours… where would I find a site that lists those? I know blueberries and blackberries and figs grow well here…

    • Gabriel Liesemeyer

      I like Bonide Fruit Tree Spray or Bonide Orchard Spray. Both will combat pests and fungus. In general the spray schedule is about every 10 to 14 days in spring and summer and about once a month or so during fall and winter (dont spray if below freezing). The bottle will give more specific instructions, but that gives you a general idea. The only ones that seem to need that much consistency are my peaches. I have had success ordering from http://www.hiddenspringsnursery.com. I have also gotten a bunch from Lowes during their mid summer plant clearance at dirt cheap prices. All of my trees prefer full sun, but the Pawpaw can do shade as well. It actually grows naturally throughout the US as an understory tree in many forests, usually near rivers or streams. I envy you for being on the coast. You should be able to grow many of what I grow here, but can also do kumquat and pomegranate very successfully there, two of my favorite fruits that I wish I could do here.

      Here is a resource that will give you specific varieties that are recommended for Coastal GA…
      https://ugaurbanag.com/fruits-for-coastal-georgia/

      You can also find loads of great info at the UGA Extension Service’s website.

      Good luck!

  • Hey, so glad l found this because this because l want many of the same bushes/trees you have. I’m in zone 7a. How do you manage the flies that come with fruit trees? We had à plum and a pear tree when l was little and my mom made my dad cut them down because of it. I want them anyway.

    • Gabe Liesemeyer

      We have never had a problem with flies. This may be because we have a bunch of swallows and other birds that are big eating machines. I also try to keep the trees compact and try keep the areas under the trees relatively clean of dropped fruit. Most of the trees are a fair distance from the house as well. But to be honest I’m not sure, these are just guesses.

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