Perennial Food: Fruit Trees

These apple trees are growing in containers in downtown Toronto in the garden of Vivian Reiss.

Whether you are a lazy gardener, or simply practical, planting a food crop that only needs planting once has obvious benefits. Small crops, like strawberries and raspberries provide you with fresh, juicy fruit every year without having to replant; a great benefit, when organic versions of these fruits can be expensive, or unreliable. Imagine your freshly picked raspberries plucked right off the cane: pure delight. With a little maintenance, a perennial food bearing plants offer the best in sustainable gardening.

Fruit trees are another example of perennial plants that complete the edible landscape. Their main requirement is sun, so if you have a sunny spot in your garden consider a fruit tree, a dwarf variety if your garden is small. Space-saving techniques like espaliering (training the branches horizontally on a flat surface like a wall or fence) can make a fruit tree a welcome part of an urban garden.

I visited a rooftop garden, owned by painter and plant grower extraordinaire, Vivian Reiss, who grows strawberries and dwarf apple trees in large containers. Worried about spraying? It’s entirely possible to grow fruits organically in the home garden. Dormant oil spray, an oil and water emulsion can be sprayed when trees are dormant to suffocated overwintering pests. A single tree can produce different varieties of apples, by buying a grafted, disease-resistant tree.

Also remember that for organic growing of all sorts, although there are ways to get rid of insects that cause damage, in general, we want insects in our gardens, especially pollinators, which are essential.

The more insects there are in your garden, the healthier your fruit. There are always more beneficial insects than harmful ones.

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