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By April 15, 2012 Read More →

Tree’s and vineyards on the homestead

Just like a vegetable garden, a small orchard or vineyard can lead to a well stocked pantry!
Fruit trees can offer a great deal of self-reliance to an urban or country homestead.  Fruit trees are relatively cheap to purchase, and will produce a great amount of food for years to come.  One tree could produce anywhere from 150 to 300 apples if well maintained.  Same with peaches.  Fruit from trees of course can be eaten fresh, canned for food storage and even dried for longer term food storage.  Fruit can be juiced and then the juice can be canned for food storage.  The left over peels, cores and scraps can be fed to farm animals, chickens especially like these tasty little treats or they can go into the compost bin, either way everything is being used.

Other fruits that are especially good on the self-reliant homestead are: grapes,  blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries.  They take minimal space to grow and can be canned, frozen, eaten fresh, or used for juicing.  You can use them to make wines, jellies, and jams.
Like any other plant they will need a bit of maintenance.  They will need to be pruned, thinned, watered, and treated for insects.

One of the downsides with fruit bearing plants, is that typically you buy them when they are still young, therefore you will not begin to see the ‘fruits of your labor’ for
a couple of years, maybe longer depending on how old the tree was when you planted it.  They do require a bit of attention when you first plant them.  They will need to be watered regularly so they can establish a good root base.  They do well with a bit of fertilizer.  We use goat manure and find it works well, but there are also chemical fertilizers that are good as well.

Vines will need something to help ‘support’ them so they do not fall over and become a tangled mess.  We are training our grapes as well as blackberries to grow on a trellis we made from fencing.  This makes it much easier to maintain the vines and keep them looking nice and not like an overgrown eyesore.

For the small urban homestead, you can buy dwarf varieties of popular fruit trees.  Dwarfs are just that, smaller versions of the original tree.  You can also purchase self-pollinating trees.  Trees that self pollinate do not require a 2nd tree in order to get a good yield of fruit.

Be sure to think through where you plant your trees once you get them home, as they are not easily moved.  Be sure to pay attention to what they will shade as they grow larger.  You do not want to plant your apple tree next to the tomatoes if as that tree as it grows it will cast shade over the tomatoes a large part of the day. That will make it counter productive.  Whatever you purchase and plant, have fun and make it a family day.

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11 Comments on "Tree’s and vineyards on the homestead"

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  1. CherB says:

    Thanks for the nice article on fruit trees.  I had planted two native paw paws and this is the first year they would have bare fruit.  Sorry I might miss that.  My pear tree was several years old and in peak producing mode last season.  Pruning helps the fruit mature to a larger size. You don’t get as many but you get nicer sized fruit.  Some of my pears took two hands to hold but most were just one big handful.  I also had native bramble berries as the cultivated berries just were not successful each season, due to last frost and walnut trees.  The brambles didnt mind either. 

  2. Estar says:

    The fruit has fallen off of the plum trees before it’s ripe. I was told this is due to a lack of boron, which is characteristic of the soil in our area of northeastern WA. What is the best way to get boron into the soil and when? (I don’t grow food with chemicals (on purpose)). – Thanks for any insights.

    • SImpleWoman says:

      To be honest that is something I, myself would have to research. Try calling a local greenhouse business or maybe your local county extension office. I do not grow plum trees as ‘sand’ plums grow wild here in my neck of the woods(oklahoma). Sorry I cannot be of more help.

    • CherB says:

      You probably heard of 21 muleteam borax which is essentially boron. The active element that helps to whiten your clothes and gets warm in wash water, in slight amounts is an active ingredient for healthy fruit. and thus us also as we need trace amounts in our food. If you ever were to use boron in your wash water and then use a grey water system you could use the water diluted down on your lawn around garden areas. I would dilute if further by adding it in gradual amounts or droplets to a bucket of fermenting weeds or green cuttings. I had sandy soil so finding alternatives to amending the soil is important. btw..if you have a box of borax that is caked and your thinking of tossing it..shame shame.. Break it up and use it. I am not exact on the amounts needed, but remember this is an element needed in trace amounts. Any higher and it does considerable damage too. Read the box content, then do your research. At one time I was collecting articles that I researched and web sites and was linking them to my plantcycle site for rereferencing or people could save time going to articles that I knew made the most sense. I have not been in there to update and check all links yet at this time, but its important that if there is information that is important to your garden is to keep a journal and maybe a back up on CD, though many people rely on CDs way too much, if you have no or limited power wouldnt it make more sense to read your reference sheets by candle or day light than wishing you had something that could read that CD that needs electric at the very least and what if it gets scratched? Is the info lost to you forever? So a prepper community sould keep wish books on hand for the community or family to have for easy reference. I know that alot of info used to be handed down by wise elders that learned certain things and shared this with the younger and stronger of the family who appreciated this wisedom and the elders could talk about their experiences and feel a needed part of the community or family unit. “Home schooling” gone full circle.

      I digress in the name of boron…lol

  3. Chris Watson says:

    We have had great success with strawberries, in the past. We have blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, grapes, and three apple trees in a small suburban townhome backyard. Hope springs eternal for us, lol;

  4. PA Prepper says:

    I am putting more in more perennial fruits each year in 1/3 acre. Elderberry, Goji berry, hardy Kiwi and Passion fruit (vines), rasberry, blueberry (bushes), and a dwarf pear and hardyPassion fig all seem to be doing well here in easternthe PA. Wish I could do more trees but in a limited space, I think I am off to a good start.

  5. Congress Works For Us says:

    @Estar – according to, “Apply household borax at a rate 1 tablespoon borax to 12 quarts of water. This amount will treat a 100 foot row of vegetables or 10 square feet of soil. Apply two times 2-3 weeks apart.”

  6. Estar says:

    Thanks! That looks like a great site.

  7. Estar says:

    @CherB: Thanks, I love it.