Growing fruit trees in the home garden can be easy if location and growing times are carefully considered. There is a fruit tree to fit most garden conditions, given adequate sunlight and water. Fruit trees such as apple, peach, pear and nectarine have varieties that ripen early or late. Many experts recommend organic growing practices for fruit trees.
Consider the space you have available for growing a fruit tree. Fruit trees come in standard, semi-dwarf and dwarf varieties. Dwarf varieties often note on the package that they "grow 50 to 60 percent of standard height," so it is useful to know the standard height of the most common fruit trees (see Resources for more info on this). Apple trees grow to a height of 45 feet, peaches to 25 feet. Fruit trees must be planted in sunny locations where water is easily available.
Select a fruit tree that grows well in your climate zone. Apple trees need significant cold weather in winter to set fruit. The Babcock peach is a white-fleshed freestone peach that grows to a height of 6 to 7 feet. It is a popular variety for mild winter climates. The Bartlett pear is golden yellow blushed with reddish-brown on a medium-sized tree that does well in dense plantings.
Fruit trees go dormant in the winter and begin producing their fruit in spring through summer, depending on the type and variety. Consider planting varieties that yield fruit in succession from spring to fall. 'Arctic Queen' nectarines ripen late in the summer, while 'Snow Queen' is very early. Consult your local garden center for information about varieties that do well in your climate zone.
Information on organic practices for fruit tree growing can be obtained at the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service (see Resources). Chemical fertilizers applied to new trees can burn the roots. Chemical pesticides for fruit tree diseases are harmful to the environment, pets, and children. Add organic compost as a side dressing regularly during the growing season. Compost provides a slow-release of living organisms to the soil. These organisms provide constant nutrition to the growing fruit.
Mulberry, fig, persimmon, pomegranate, quince and kiwi are less well known fruit trees that can also be grown at home. Many of these varieties are unique to home orchards. 'Pineapple Quince' has rose-pink blooms and attractive twisted branches that create winter interest. Pomegranate trees grow to a height of 5 to 7 feet and do well in drought conditions. 'Dapple Dandy Pluot' is a cross between a plum and an apricot.