Guest Post by Rebekah Pierce
Everybody has a different goal when it comes to homesteading. Some people like the idea of being able to grow all their own food simply for the old-fashioned, idyllic nature of it all. Some people are trying to prepare for long-term self-sufficiency or guard against natural disasters or emergencies. Others just want to save a bit of money at the grocery store.Personally, I like growing my own food because it is liberating. I like the idea of producing everything that I eat, and while things like vegetables and chicken eggs are easy to produce, fruits have always been my Achilles heel.
However, there are some fruits that thrive in most climates that can be grown with relatively little skill. Regardless of whether you are a newbie to the world of gardening or you have been doing it for decades, you should consider growing these ten fruits on your homestead this year.
Nothing quite compares to the crunch of a homegrown cantaloupe. These fruits are easy to grow and easy to preserve – but definitely will be hard to share! They have a short date to maturity, with many producing fruit in as little s sixty-five days. Many homesteaders have success when planting cantaloupes via succession planting, growing multiple crops so that they have a consistent harvest throughout the season.
Strawberries are an obvious choice on our list of the easiest fruits to grow. This is because they are incredibly versatile, enjoying success regardless of whether they are grown in hanging baskets, in the ground, or in containers.
They prefer well-drained soil and lots of sun. As your strawberries develop, remove any runners that appear. This will help encourage fresh growth and a greater volume of fruiting. We grow our strawberries in raised beds, which helps to combat weeds and maintain proper soil quality and structure.
Blueberries love acidic soil, and produce nutritious berries toward the end of summer. These fruits can be grown directly in the ground or in containers, but we recommend growing them right in the ground as a landscaping feature, as they’ll produce gorgeous, scented flowers in the spring.
When you select your blueberry bushes, only choose those that are self-pollinating. Otherwise, you will need more than one plant to produce fruit, which can be cumbersome to deal with.
Watermelons are so much fun to grow, particularly for small children who have a tendency to over water plants. You really can’t overdo it on water for these moisture-loving melons, and they are both delicious and nutritious.
Easy to grow in any garden, watermelon is hardy in zones 3 to 11. This includes a majority of the United States, and you can modify when and where you plant your watermelon to meet the ideal growing season length and conditions for your watermelons.
The raspberry is a homestead classic, growing well in areas that were once ravaged by fire. These opportunistic fruits grow well in acidic soils, and there are both summer and autumn-fruiting varieties. They prefer good drainage and ample sunshine, but can also thrive in the shade depending on the variety you select.
Grower’s tip – after you harvest your raspberries, remove any branches that once produced fruit. The ones that are left will provide you with next year’s fruit, and the plant won’t have to expend extra energy toward repairing old branches.
While some people claim to have success growing apples in containers, I personally find it easier just to care for apple trees when they are planted directly in the ground. Apples prefer well-drained soils and full-sun, and should be pruned every winter to simulate growth.
Keep in mind that if you already have apple trees on your property, they might not produce the kinds of apples you are used to eating from the grocery store. Wild apples are perfectly safe for consumption, but will have thicker outer skins and a more intense, bitter flavor. They are suitable for baking, but otherwise should just be left to your livestock.
There’s nothing quite like a pear to add a savory flavor to your dinners or desserts. There are multiple choices when it comes to growing these beauties, too. You can grow them like bushes from dwarfing root stock, or even grow them against a wall or lattice.
Some varieties of pears are self-pollinating, so you will only need one pear tree to be successful. However, raising more than one is definitely recommended, so that you’ll end up with tons of fruit. Peaches taste great when canned in syrup as well as when they are frozen, so there’s no reason not to plant tons so that you can have enough to snack on during the winter months, too.
Plum trees are super easy to grow, but are often overlooked by homesteaders. However, if you are considering growing fruit on your small farm, you should definitely consider growing plums. These don’t have the need for pollination, as most varieties are self-fertile, and will produce plenty of fruit throughout the middle to end of summer.
As you are growing your plum trees, make sure you keep the fruits at least two inches apart. Thinning the fruit will ensure that your fruits develop appropriately and also that you will have a good crop in the following year, too. Consider planting them against a wall or another structure to grow outward as a fan, and always make sure you plant plums in full sunlight.
Figs are sun-loving trees that provide a taste of the Mediterranean to any dish. They have a sweet, chewy flavor that make them ideally for including in salads or side dishes. They also take great on their own, and can be dehydrated and stored for long-term use.
Figs can be grown in containers to help restrict their roots, and this also allows you to overwinter them. This is particularly important if you live somewhere with harsh winters, where your fig trees might not be able to survive a rugged winter outdoors. You can add supplemental compost to ensure that all of the fig’s desired nutrients are being provided.
The first-ever peach trees in the United States came from China and thrive in USDA hardiness zones five through eight. They prefer full sun, and while they may not be suited to colder climates, they are an exceptional choice for a fruit tree if you live in an area with a moderate climate.
If you live in an area that is either too cold or too hot to support growing peaches, you should also know that they can easily be grown in containers. You may want to select a dwarf fruit tree variety, since they will rapidly outgrow their pots otherwise. They also need to be well-watered and planted in a potting mix that contains vermiculite and peat moss to help conserve moisture.
There are some challenges associated with growing fruit on your homestead, but luckily they can be overcome by applying a little bit of ingenuity and classic homesteading know-how. I hope you’ll consider these fruits that you can easily grow on your homestead and start planting today!
About the Author: Rebekah Pierce is freelance writer for hire and co-owner of J&R Pierce Family Farm in upstate New York. Check out their website to learn more about homestead gardening.