Growing apples, peaches and other tree fruits in the garden has a lot of appeal but before attempting it, considerable thought should be given to the possible problems. Or, simply buy the trees (dwarf ones, by all means), plant them and learn how to care for them as you go along.
Fall is a good time to plant them in areas where temperatures rarely go much below zero. In colder areas, late winter and early spring are the best times.
Perhaps the most important reason for growing them yourself is that homegrown fruit, particularly peaches, can have a much better flavor than those purchased at a market or roadside stand.
In the garden, the fruit can be fully tree-ripened before picking. Peaches, for example, gain as much as 300 per cent in quality during the last few days of maturation on the tree.
Sweet cherries are not recommended because usually they are for the birds. The birds will watch the fruit as it ripens and will clean off the tree before you can even take a small share.
The big problems with apples and peaches is pest control. They must be sprayed several times during the growing season at regular intervals. If even one spray is skipped, a lot of the fruit may be spoiled.
With dwarf trees, effective spraying need not be too much of a chore. With the large ones, professional equipment and know-how are required.
Birds and bees will take their share of the peaches unless you protect ripening fruit.
Birds may peck into early summer apples that ripen from mid-July to mid-August. Late ripening varieties usually are not damaged by birds.
An apple tree cannot be pollinated by its own pollen. However, pollen from almost any other variety will take care of it. Therefore, in order to get fruit, you need more than one variety within 100 feet for cross-pollination.
Some varieties, although they bear heavy crops when pollinated by another pollen-producing variety, do not themselves produce good pollen.
Pears also need two varieties for effective pollination. Pears will not pollinate apples and vice-versa.
Bees carry pollen from one variety to the other. They fly only at temperatures above 65 degrees F. In some springs, the temperature during bloom may never rise above 65 and due to bee inactivity, little cross-pollination will occur.
Nearly all peach, nectarine and apricot varieties are self-pollinating.
The fruit of the Delicious apple, or any other variety borne on a dwarf tree, is just as large and otherwise identical with the fruits borne on a full-sized tree.
Do not attempt to grow fruit trees from seed.They do not come true to variety.
Trees with five varieties on one tree can be grown but are not recommended because the different varieties will grow unequally, making tree shaping difficult.
Apricots bloom early in the spring. The blossoms are usually killed by frost every year in all but the most favorable locations.