You don’t have to own acres of property in the Sun Belt to plant your own prolific mini orchard of delicious, antioxidant-rich fruit. Having organic, homegrown fruit is possible no matter where you live. With certain trees and bushes, you can start harvesting fruit as soon as the spring and summer after planting, and the rest will start to bear in one to three years. If you’re short on space, you don’t have to plant full trees, either; you can grow alternatives, such as dwarf trees, grapevines, low bushes or container-based fruits instead. Here are five fruits that’ll grow beautifully with proper care no matter where you live.
1. Alpine strawberries
Also known as wild or woodland strawberries, alpine strawberries are the petite relative of regular variety strawberries. Loaded with antioxidants, these have pointier fruit and pack a powerful flavor with traces of pineapple. Select a growing spot with full sunlight or partial shade that offers well-drained soil replete with organic matter. Make sure your berries get 1 to 2 inches of water per week and have adequate protection from frost if winters are snowy and cold where you live.
Pineapples are unique among tropical fruits because they’re one of the few such fruits that can be grown anywhere — even indoors — because they do very well in tubs and pots. Pineapples are incredibly low-maintenance fruit — they don’t need watering often, they need little soil, and they can grow in full sun or partial shade. What’s more, pineapple plants multiply quickly, which means you can grow a lot of fruit with minimal effort. To get started, simply place the top of a store-bought pineapple in a hole you’ve made in a pot of soil. Arrange the soil to support the top and water it, and the rest will take care of itself.
Full of antioxidants like polyphenols and carotenoids, blackberries are one of the lowest-maintenance fruits you can grow at home. Yielding about 3 pounds of fruit per plant, blackberries can grow almost anywhere and require little effort beyond some minimal pruning. Blackberries do best in full sun and sandy, acidic soil. It’s important that your blackberries are free of viruses, which are a common problem with them, so get your plant from a reputable nursery. Thornless blackberry varieties include Apache, Black Diamond and Navaho, all of which are ready for harvest when the fruit stains your fingers.
Grapes can thrive even in cold climates if you choose the right type of vine. Before you select your vine, find out your area’s agricultural zone rating. Vines will have a zone range that specifies the coldest zone in which they can survive and the hottest zone in which they can thrive. Choose a sunny spot for your vine, weed it regularly, and be sure to protect it from frosts in early spring and late fall. Whether you have one vine or many, you’ll need a trellis system to support your crop, which you can easily build at home.
You can turn almost any backyard into an apple orchard with an apple espalier or a hedge of dwarf apple trees. In choosing your tree, make sure you choose disease-resistant trees to minimize maintenance, opt for a rootstock that is a dwarfing (yields a smaller tree for simpler care and harvest), and select a self-fertile apple tree if you’re too short on space for cross-pollination. Apple varieties that ripen early are ideal for sauces, while those that ripen later will fare better in storage.
Clearly, you don’t need to live in a sunny, temperate climate to grow your own organic fruit. With the right modifications, you can grow fruits like pineapples, grapes and strawberries almost anywhere. If you love growing fruit at home and want a garden that offers the largest range of fruit possible, consider finding a new place in Florida or Southern California. There are few places in the U.S. that are better suited to home fruit growing than the subtropical or tropical climates found in these two regions.