Fruit trees are a tasty treat that can be grown in your own backyard. Home grown fruit is higher in quality than what is purchased at the store and can be a fun family project. Growing fruit trees will require some addition care. Success will depend on the varieties you choose, proper planting, pruning, fertilization, irrigation, and pest control.
The size of your home orchard should be determined by the space available and the time you can devote to maintenance.
Select a Good Location
The success of the home fruit planting is influenced greatly by the site selected. This cannot be overemphasized. A deep, well-drained soil with good surface and subsurface drainage is important.
Fruit plants will not grow well in water-logged soil. Also, the site should provide ample sunlight for proper growth and development of the plants.
Choose the Right Kind of Fruit
The decision to plant fruit should involve careful variety selection. Be sure to choose varieties that will perform well in this region. All the fruit varieties available at Clegg's have been especially chosen for the Baton Rouge and Denham Springs area.
The ideal time to plant fruit trees is during the dormant season, usually from about mid-November through February in Louisiana. But, container-grown plants may be planted over a longer period, usually from September through May.
After selecting a proper area for planting, dig a hole about twice as wide and 1 ½ times as deep as the container. Use soil that you removed from the hole and place it back into the bottom of the hole.
Remove the plant from the container and set the plant in the hole upright at the depth it was growing in the nursery. Then fill the hole about two-thirds full with more of the soil that you removed when digging the hole so it will settle around the roots. It is advisable to back fill with the same soil removed from the hole to help eliminate internal drainage problems. Never add organic matter as a back fill. This creates internal drainage problems. At this point, finish filling the hole with water to help pack the soil. After the water has soaked in, finish filling the hole with topsoil. When planting in soils with poor internal drainage, plant trees on a "crown" or "turtleback" for better drainage.
Weeds must be controlled so they will not compete for fertilizer and moisture.
This can be done by shallow cultivation or the use of mulches. Pine straw, crushed pine needle or pine bark mulch are excellent mulches for fruit trees. In addition to keeping down weeds, mulches add humus to the soil. Mulches also keep the soil cool in summer and conserve moisture.
At the time of planting, fertilize with fertilome Root Stimulator solution. When new growth appears in the spring, apply fertilome Fruit, Citrus and Pecan fertilizer according to the label instructions.
Most fruit types should be pruned regularly beginning at planting. Stop by any of the four Clegg's Nursery locations to receive proper pruning information for your fruit trees or go to www.lsuagcenter.com and review "The Louisiana Home Orchard" for additional pruning information.
Insects and Diseases
Healthy plants and fruit free of disease and insect injury don't just happen. They require a complete spray schedule with thorough coverage in timely applications. Stop by one of the Clegg's Nursery locations and pick up a copy of a fruit tree spray schedule. Bring in samples of any disease or insect problems you may have so we can properly identify the problem and recommend a solution.
In general, fruits grown for home use should be allowed to remain attached to the plant until they are fully mature.
Information provided by the LSU AgCenter publication #1884, "The Louisiana Home Orchard". Please see www.lsuagcenter.com for more information.