Question: I would like to grow more of my own fruit but my back yard is only 15 feet by 40 feet. What would you recommend that I grow?

Answer: You have plenty of room to grow a lot of fruit if at least part of your yard receives direct sunlight. You do not need to limit yourself to the back yard. Some dwarf berries make attractive shrubs and strawberries and lingonberries can be grown as a ground cover. Fruit trees can be planted as a substitute for shade trees.

Start by measuring the amount of space you have which gets at least six hours of direct sun per day.

Soil preparation

All plants will grow better if a liberal amount of organic matter is mixed into the soil before planting. A small investment in bark dust, compost or peat moss will give years of improved growth and production.

Small fruits

Grapes can be grown on a trellis or along a fence.

Small fruits such as strawberries, and red and black raspberries are probably the easiest to grow in a small yard. It only takes a few raspberry plants to produce a significant amount of fruit. Plant day neutral strawberry varieties such as Tri Star and Seascape for continuous picking all summer.

New Bushel and Berry dwarf raspberries can be grown in containers. Containers need to be moved to a protected area like a garage for winter.

Consider growing other less common fruits such as lingonberries, currants, gooseberries, elderberries and honeyberries.

Fruit trees

I highly recommend planting only true dwarf fruit trees unless you have space for large trees. Most nurseries and garden stores sell only semi-dwarf trees that typically reach 80 percent of the size of standard trees. They can grow up to 25 feet. Dwarf apple and pear trees typically grow to about 8 to 10 feet. Mini-dwarf apple and pear trees reach only 4 to 6 feet. Mini-dwarf and columnar apple trees can be grown in containers which are moved to protected locations in winter.

Fruit tree size is determined by the root stock onto which the fruit tree is grafted. Nurseries that specialize in dwarf trees will specify the tree size that can be expected. True dwarf trees are more expensive but are well worth the extra cost.

Many fruit trees require two varieties for cross pollination. Trees with multiple varieties grafted onto the same tree provide pollination in a single tree.

Espalier grafted fruit trees can produce a lot of fruit in a small space. They are grafted and trained to grow horizontally on a fence or trellis.

One of the best sources for dwarf trees and other fruits is raintreenursery.com. Also see starkbros.com and willisorchards.com.

Allen Wilson can be contacted at allenw98663@yahoo.com.

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