MARCH 2017 – We’re excited to begin our two-part series on edible gardening. First up, a primer on how to plant and care for fruit trees, especially those that do well here in San Diego.
With all the rain that’s hit Southern California this winter, it’s hard to imagine spending quality time out in your yard, but spring will soon be here, and planting your own edible garden is fun and rewarding, especially when you get to reap the fruits (literally!) of your labor.
To help get you started, here are the answers to six common questions about planting and caring for fruit trees that cover the basics.
Q. What’s the best time of year to plant fruit trees?
A. We’re nearing the end of the season when stone fruit trees (such as nectarines, peaches, plums, and apricots) and deciduous trees (such as apples, persimmons, and pomegranates) need to be planted in order to produce fruit next season. The prime planting time for these trees is December through February or early March. Citrus Fruit trees (such as oranges, lemons, and grapefruits) can be planted in the spring and summer months.
Q. What fruit trees grow best in San Diego?
A. San Diego is a low chill city, so the trees you choose will need to have a requirement of 400 chill hours or less, at a temperature 45 degrees or less, in order to produce fruit. The chill hours are an accumulation and not continuous, so if there are a few spurts of warmer days, there’s no need to worry that your fruit tree won’t do well. If fruit trees have less chill hours than required, they may still produce a fruit, but it will be of low quality and may not taste great.
Q. How much space do fruit trees need to grow?
A. This is key when it comes to choosing fruit trees because not all trees are self-fertile (or self-pollinating). If you enjoy plums, for example, you will need to purchase a male and a female tree to ensure that your tree produces fruit and not just pretty blooms! Apricots, on the other hand, can self-pollinate and don’t need another tree. Keep in mind that trees grow up and out, so if you plan on using a small corner space, a dwarf tree may be more suited for that area rather than a full-sized species.
If you’re really limited on space, but love the idea of harvesting your own fruit, consider planting vine fruits, such as blackberries, raspberries, or grapes. They will still need a soil base for the roots and access to direct sunlight, but their growth on a vine can save on space and double as decoration!
Q. How much sunlight do fruit trees need?
A. Fruit trees need to be planted in an area where they have access to direct sunlight. They may end up providing a wonderful shady area for you in your backyard, but if they are not exposed to direct sunlight, the fruit produced may not grow to full size and may taste bade or lack flavor.
Q. How deep should fruit trees be planted?
A. Stone fruit and deciduous trees are known as bare root trees, namely because their roots are bare. Their roots need to be fully planted in the soil, but the trunk should not be. It is also imperative that the root is never allowed to dry out. On the other hand, if they are over watered, you may get a fruit that is very watery and lacks flavor. When purchasing your fruit tree, be sure to check tags for watering instructions or ask the nursery workers.
Q. What’s the best time of day to water fruit trees?
A. Another tip is to water fruit trees in the morning. Did your mom ever tell you that if you went to bed with wet hair, you’d catch a cold? That might not have really happened to you, but it will happen to your tree. Watering at night can produce a fungus that will essentially make your tree sick, so be sure to stick to a morning watering routine.
We hope this information has encouraged you to begin planting your own edible garden! Remember, your fruit tree will not grow overnight, and most likely will not produce fruit in its first year. But the beauty and convenience of your own fruit garden will be well worth the patience and hard work that you pour into it.
Want to know more?
If you have any questions about planting and caring for fruit trees, feel free to give us a call at 619-579-9151 or visit our contact page! Be sure to check back soon for part two of our edible gardening series, where we’ll focus on vegetables!