Advice on fruit trees and berry bushes

As soon as the snow melts, ready to dig up a nice area to plant peaches, pears, apples, cherries, figs and other fruit trees, plus blueberry, raspberry, blackberry, huckleberry and strawberry bushes. I understand they all need different soil pH, fertilizer, etc. Anyone in the area have success growing these things? Thanks.


How much land do you have? That many plantings will require some serious space.

As someone who has tried to tend, and defend, young pear trees lovingly planted 15 years ago, I will only say: good luck. Your issue won't be the Ph balance of the soil: it will be keeping the deer and bear away. Our pear trees were individually fenced when they were under 5" tall. Sometimes the deer crashed the fences and got to the trees anyway. When the trees got nice and big enough to start producing a good amount of fruit, the bear were all over them. Bear do not gently pick fruit off a tree, BTW. They grab huge branches and pull them down. We woke up more than one morning to find basically half a tree down on the ground. Our pear trees, or what is left of them, will all be cut down come spring. The bear won.

If you want to plant that many fruit trees and berry bushes come spring, here's my best advice: go get a couple Anatolian Shepherds right now.

Rebecka Rebecka
3 days ago

ps sorry to be a sourpuss, I do hope some people will give you soil advice. The frustration of battling the animals for years for our fruit trees, and ultimately losing, obviously colored the tone of my reply.

Rebecka Rebecka
3 days ago

Rebecka - That was going to be my first question too, "how many acres?" Just one of each of those fruit trees is going to add up to some serious space. And a back hoe doing the holes. They're also a long term project, 5 years min to get them all started to being productive. Peaches and apples grow very well in everyday soil, just ask Best's.

Figs are totally different, very difficult but not impossible. You'd absolutely need to talk to Well Sweep. They've been having some success, but they're also experts. Figs expect a different heat/moisture than they're likely to get here.

Blue berries and strawberries are different from the others mentioned. The bramble berries are very east, native, grow without much effort. They alternate between a new cane growing getting leaves and then flowering, fruit, and dying off the second year. I didn't know that the first time I tried to transplant a bush from PA. It was probably a second year cane which means it just died off normally. But otherwise raspberries, blackberries, boysenberries, and other hybrids are all easy and don't need a huge amount of care. You just need to get it started and then cut the canes that had berries because they're done.

So then blue berries can be OK, but you'd need a completely separate space for them. They tend to want to be quite wet but not in clay, standing water. They're great in sandy soil because of that, wet but drains. Clay won't work. I've never tried but heard they're a bit of work and need a bit of luck.

Strawberries then are a different subject. Most people will grow those in raised containers/platforms. Because of the space need, better to go up than spread out. You can buy platforms at the hardware places, of different sizes. Then fill with composted soil and buy the plants. Not too hard so long as they get enough water. Weed relentlessly and let them get completely and totally ripe. Resist the urge to pick early.


Rebecka - Sorry to hear that your pear trees were damaged by bear. No way to revive or regrow even part of them? We had a bear or other predator problem as well, having lost three goats and two rabbits, but solved it with a six foot high electrified fence.

There are two areas for planting: The first is about four acres of cleared, nearly level land, all grass now, surrounding a man-made pond. The second is about eight acres on the top of a small hill, currently populated with junk trees (swamp maples I think) that collapse every winter and must be lugged off in big pieces every spring. Back hoe experience from this task.

My thought is to transform one or both of these areas into mini orchards and/or fruit farms. I may need a pro to determine feasibility and help plan this out.


About those fig trees, I would need to double check, but our growing zone is just a bit too far north for them. Many years ago, I was at a picnic at a shore house where the owner had just about 1 or 2 of everything you mentioned, all within a fenced yard. I asked him about his fig trees and what they required over the winter (we've always wanted one too and knew our winters were colder up here) and he said the fig trees would need some pretty serious protection - even at the shore. They are obviously typical to Mediterranean climates, so you can take a chance and really protect them over the winter, and hope we have mild ones.

3wbdwnj 3wbdwnj
2 days ago

Really could not offer any advice on your planting of fruit trees, for i planted 2 peach trees an 2 plum trees. No fruit on the peach trees in the last 8 years, but the plum trees produce fruit after flowering, But as the season turns to summer the plums quarter size just fall off the tree, never producing mature plums. also in the last 4 years there has been what seems to be a dark fungus on some branches. Now most of the branches are covered in this fungus. Wondering what i can do to eliminate this fungus, i've cut back the branches but this did not help!


Danny- a 6' high electrified fence - wow. How does that work? Is it barbed wire? I need something like that for my garden, although I suspect it would be cost-prohibitive for me. Does your fence surround just where you keep your animals, or would your fruit trees and berry bushes be protected by it as well? Sounds like you've got some nice space for planting. I would speak with Mr. Best. He has given us lots of good advice on our young pear and old apple trees.

@KWD - you can take an affected branch in to the County Extension office and they can help you determine what is going on with your trees.

Rebecka Rebecka
2 days ago

Rebecka - We already had a solid post and wire fence to contain the animals. Electrifying involved running two wires on top (for climbers) and bottom (for diggers). Used Zareba parts from Tractor Supply in Washington. But the cost of fencing the entire garden may be prohibitive, though not as solid as the animal fencing. Looking into whether light weight fencing and the same high voltage electric will work.

Thanks for your input on how bears take down fruit trees. Good luck reviving them. Don't let the bear win!


KWD - the only way is to cut branches at least 5" below the brown growth to prevent spreading but you can't stop the process of dying completely. I had 3 very nice plum trees (one had absolutely amazing large yellow plums, other was double-grafted with heirloom varieties), all got infected a few years ago, slowly we were cutting branches, last year we just cut 2 of them down and will remove the last one when snow melts. If your peach trees didn't fruit for 8 years, there is no need to wait any longer, even grafted on standard rootstock they would produce already.

There is a very good forum about growing fruit trees on gardenweb. I found it extremely helpful. People are willing to answer all questions you have and give the best advice.


KWD - I'd also suggest the County Extension, they want to know what's going on as much as you do. Most likely you've got to not only cut, but burn the branches. I only have an Eastern redbud that got a fungus going around. No cure, and advised by lawn care to burn the cuttings.

3wbdwnj - Exactly the point. Normally I would just say no, but then I have been to Well Sweep that sells a couple of kinds. Someone specifically asked about it when I was there, and they said they were working on getting a variety hardy enough. But they also had a couple that seemed like you kept them in a pot and took them inside. So if anyone really wants to try, they should very much talk to Well Sweep for advice first.


GC - it affects only plum trees, even decorative plum trees in my development all got this fungus. I actually blame my neighbors for bringing it in - my trees (and "association's") didn't have it until my neighbor planted their plum tree and next summer my trees got first growth despite spraying. I am upset about my yellow plum, it was a very rare heirloom variety. Apples and peaches are not affected.


I grew up in Brooklyn NY and we had fig trees grown in many backyards by Italian homeowners. Our landlady would bring me figs when they ripened, so fresh and delicious. The trees that I saw were left in the yards during the winter but prior to frost, they were wrapped completely, tied with rope every 12 or so inches and then at the top, they would put a bucket on top and tie that on also. At night, they looked creepy, but it kept them warm and protected from ice or snow damage.

justwondering justwondering
2 days ago

Wonder what the bucket on top was for?

Rebecka Rebecka
2 days ago

Rebecka - My grandfather did exactly the same as justwondering noted in Wood-Ridge, NJ for four fig trees, which yielded a fine crop of fruit every year. The top did not necessarily need to be a bucket, just double wrapping. But grandpa did use horse manure every spring for these trees, so it smelled like the circus was in town. Stinky!

On our new orchard/garden, here is what my grandson proposed: Build a light fence around about two acres on the top of the hill, and use one of the good old tall trees up there to build a tree house, with electric for heat, lights, etc. Then arm the kids with sling shots and bb guns to dispell any predators from above. The roof of the treehouse could also be a good launch/landing pad for chopper drones. Hmmm......


thought you lived in a studio in PV, Danny..................when did you move to this
property?

4catmom 4catmom
2 days ago

4catmom - I moved six months ago to Great Meadows, but why do you care where I live? Gardening in this area is the subject, right?


Going to develop the top of the hill, and no matter what, will need electric and water. With the warmer weather over the next week, digging trenches to bury electric conduit and water line. Great sun, once cleared of the junk trees. But still looking for expert advice on soil management, pH, fertilizer, etc. for various fruit trees and berry bushes. Thanks.

DannyC DannyC
1 day ago

Spraying and fertilizing and pruning trees is a must. Do your research. Many types of fruit trees will require planting 2 per variety 1 male and 1 female (may be true for berry bushes too) so if you have a tree that's not producing fruit this could be why. Alstede farms in Chester, NJ has a substantial fruit tree and berry bush nursery. They are extremely knowledgeable and will answer your questions (bring your list of questions and take notes) to give you the best chance to success. They also sell products necessary to nurture your new fruit trees fungicides/pesticides etc. Hope you find this helpful. Best of luck


Thanks JoyV - On my way to Alstede farms on Tuesday, pen and pad in hand,. and also aerial pictures taken by a drone. Funny how even fruit trees and berry bushes like to get "married". So excited about this project, just have to make sure it works. Also considering zucchini, cucumbers, pumpkins, carrots, horse radishes, red radishes and lettuce, plus the herbs that I grew at my previous place. I'll do whatever work is required for success. If there is any kind of harvest this fall, you are invited for first pickings. Thanks again.


Good luck DannyC, it's nice to have something to get excited about. Hope your plans work out.

justwondering justwondering
13 hours ago

justwondering - Let's not forget those great Jersey tomatoes. If I am doing this job, it might as well include everything good to eat. With 2 to 8 acres in great sun, plus electric and water, (there will be an automatic sprinkler system) , all that is needed is knowledge about soil chemistry and plant maintenance.. Might plant fig trees, as you mentioned, probably using my grandpa's methods, and since they will be pretty far from the house, the stink should not matter much. You are invited to the autumn harvest as well, with tomatoes, peppers, radishes and herbs probably being harvested earlier.


Thanks DannyC, enjoy the process and the "fruits of your labor."

justwondering justwondering
9 hours ago

just -a-sitting on my hands.............


Rutgers has an excellent agricultural extension service online. I did my research there before planting blueberries. My biggest challenge has been wildlife getting to the berries before I do! Good luck! It's very rewarding.

LVMomOfBoys LVMomOfBoys
7 hours ago

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