It may seem like a waste of time to grow fruit in our yards when we can go to a supermarket and readily get whatever fruit we want with very little effort. But with the concern for how crops are grown and exposure to unknown toxins, or being picked unripe so that they can be shipped around the world resulting in fruit
rendered flavourless and lacking nutrition; the return to growing fruit in our own backyard returns. And nothing beats the taste of freshly picked ripe fruit.
Growing fruit in your backyard is relatively easy and lots of fun. You need at least 6 hours of sun, good drainage
and compost enriched soil. You may not have the room to grow a large orchard, but many fruits can be grown in the small garden. You can try some of the dwarf varieties of fruit trees which can be grown against a wall in a fan shape or in some cases in a pot, but if space is really limited you may be more successful growing strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and thornless blackberries. Many fruits can be grown in a container. A fig tree which would normally get quite large would be restricted in a pot. The growth restriction actually stimulates fruit production.
And you can be creative with where you grow your fruit. For instance, a thornless blackberry variety will cover an archway, Kiwi fruit or grapes can cover an arbour, and bush fruits such as gooseberries and currants can be grown in amongst your ornamental shrubs. And now, we have access to new types of fruit that are higher in
nutritional value. Two such examples are the Honeyberry (Lonicera caerulea) and Goji berries.
The Honeyberry or edible honeysuckle originates from Siberia and thus can take cold temperatures (-50 C). It is a small shrub that yields large elongated bluish purple berries that taste like a wild blueberry. These are excellent eaten fresh or made into ice cream, jelly, jam, juice or frozen for use later. The shrub is drought tolerant and very resistant to disease and pests. It will need a cross pollinator so buy two different varieties such as: ‘Blue Moon’ and ‘Blue Velvet’. They both grow around 3ft by 3ft . Make sure when you harvest the fruit that they are blue in color all the way through before picking. Although the fruit resembles blueberries; they are higher in antioxidants, bear fruit sooner and have a unique flavour.
The other fruit new to the Canadian market is the Goji berry (Wolfberry). For over 6,000 years herbalist from China, Tibet and India having been using this fruit to cure a variety of illnesses and to boost the immune system. In recent years, Goji juice has become very popular and expensive. Goji berries are high in antioxidants and Vitamin A. They can be eaten fresh, cooked or dried. The red/orange fruit resembles a raisin in texture and tastes slightly sweet and sour. The berry is very easy to grow and does not need a pollinator. Not only are they drought tolerant but will tolerate wind and salt-laden air, so they would be an excellent choice for seaside gardens.
Whether you have room for several fruit trees or have containers full of berries, with a little bit of effort you can
grow fabulous fruits in your yard, have fresh sweet berries on your cereal in the morning and share your bounty with the neighbours. You can return to that sweet goodness of home grown fruit and create cherished memories for your kids.