Free Organic Fruit! Plant an Orchard

This spring I am planting an orchard. I’ve got the spot picked out, and I’ve just submitted my order for trees. People like to say you can’t grow fruit organically, but I know it’s possible. Certainly, I buy organic fruit at the supermarket, and at my local farmer’s market. And I grew up eating cherries and pears straight from the tree. But I want my own fruit, and lots of it.

It seems like fruit trees are a good choice to grow in any landscape. Not only do they provide shade, oxygen, and carbon sequestration, they provide food. I learned the hard way at my old house not to plant one right over a patio—the dropping, rotting fruit and seeds make it hard to enjoy sitting there in the height of the summer. This time I’ve got the right spot picked out at the edge of the yard; it has plenty of sun, and it’s in my sight line so I can watch the fruit ripen.

The thing about fruit trees that can get a little complicated is that some of them need to be pollinated. And some are full-sized, while others are dwarf varieties. The best catalog I have found (again) is from Raintree Nursery, based in Washington State. Their catalog is filled with charts and details that tell you what to grow, and how, and what you’ll need to be successful. And they offer all sorts of old and new varieties. I am planting some apples, Seckel pears (my daughters’ favorite), sour cherries (my favorite), one sweet cherry, and two self-fertilizing Japanese plums called Hollywood—which not only sound like they taste great, and will make great landscape trees, but will also provide me ample opportunity to say to the kids (over the summer, after American Idol is done for), “We’re going to Hollywood, baby!” And out we will go to eat plums.

The great thing about getting fruit trees in the mail is that they are like sticks, very lightweight, and not big at all. It’s easy to dig a nice hole, fill it with compost and soil, and plant the little tree. Then, before you know it (usually in a few years), you are getting more fruit than you know what to do with. For about $30 dollars a tree you get about 35 years of fruit. That’s not quite free, but almost.

We do have some completely free organic fruit already. A friend of ours gave us a cutting of his fig trees. We keep them in giant pots and put them in our garage over the winter, but late every summer, we get gobs of figs that would cost us a fortune in the store. It’s the magic of nature—and friendship—at its best.

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10 Responses to Free Organic Fruit! Plant an Orchard

  1. Maya February 16, 2010 at 11:02 am #

    There is nothing better than wandering outside and eating fruit fresh off the tree! That’s my kind of snacking :)

  2. JT February 16, 2010 at 11:58 am #

    The taste of organic fruit grown in your own back or front yard what could be fresher ;-)

  3. Kathleen Platten February 16, 2010 at 12:13 pm #

    Good Morning Maria,

    I am 66 and am ready to plant some fruit trees.

    I have a horse corral that is empty,ready to be turned into a nice fruit tree garden. I already eat berries,and fruit from the market,but I
    think planting my own,and watching the trees grow will be a great treat for my Grandchildren and myself.

    Wish me luck…Thank you for the little push I needed to get this going
    Kathleen Platten

  4. Maria Trevino Villarreal February 16, 2010 at 1:23 pm #

    Hi Maria
    I would like to ask you if you speak or understand spanish?

  5. Maria Trevino Villarreal February 16, 2010 at 1:24 pm #

    Maria
    I would like to ask you if you understand o speak spanish?

  6. Patricia A Peltier February 16, 2010 at 7:45 pm #

    This makes me think of the time that I was abouot 14 when I climbed into a neighbor’s peach tree and ate a peach. It wa one of the tastiest fruits that I ever had in my life–and I am 56!

  7. Patricia A Peltier February 16, 2010 at 7:47 pm #

    Correction: was, not wa; — not -!

  8. Maria February 17, 2010 at 10:30 am #

    Dear Maria Trevino Villarreal,

    Unfortunately I do not speak spanish. After 4 years of Spanish in high school and college, the only line I remember is: Donde esta la bibliotecha?

    And of course gracias!

    Maria (farm country kitchen)

  9. Donna in Delaware February 17, 2010 at 3:04 pm #

    This also reminds me when we were kids. One neighbor had 2 pear trees, one, 3 green apple trees(tart), one, a red grapvine and one, 3 peach trees, All grown in their back yards. The neighborhood children had their pick of fresh fruit all of the time. Of course, children would jump the fences and “take” the fruit, much to the chagrin of the growers. That fruit was the best tasting, naturally grown fruit ever. No pesticides were used on any of it. When it was time to pick the fruit, the neighbors would call our parents and allow us to come over and pick what we wanted to take to our parents. I don’t know why children had to “take” without consent. Maybe it tasted better when it was taken or maybe they just liked to see how mad the owners got when they were caught doing it and got away unscathed. We were not allowed to even think about taking anything. The fried apples were the best, with country fried chicken, and the pears, we took to school in our lunch bags. The grapes were never harvested by us, but they were easy to get and eat, as kids passed by the fence with the grapes hanging over into the alleyway.
    Before I left NY, I grew columnar apple trees when they were first introduced to the market. I believe Spring Hill offered them. This was in the mid ’80’s. They took up little space and the apples turned out to be quite good. I got 3 different trees. It took 2 years before I got an apple.

  10. J. Cummings April 10, 2014 at 3:36 pm #

    So, if you are planting cherries, plant Montmorency — the very best in sour cherries, that is. Well, at least it has my vote… I cried when I lost my last cherry tree to a windstorm — and all the birds seem to weep too! I moved and planted another Montmorency and it really makes me feel that this space is “home.” For those who do not have the land to plant an orchard, I recommend a “Community Orchard.” We have started one in Evanston, Illinois as part of a Community Garden Project ( near a playground/park area.) Here the residents of the community are welcome to come, pick and enjoy fresh, organic fruit — in season !

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