Home fruit production is becoming increasingly popular in Georgia, predominantly in plant hardiness zones 8a and 8b, which lie south of a line from Columbus in the west to Augusta in the east. New varieties developed by university horticultural departments and private growers make it possible for home gardeners to enjoy many type of peaches, pears and plums. A visit to your local nursery or garden center is a good way to start gathering information on what fruit trees grow best in your area.
Choose well-drained and full-sun locations for planting. Space the fruit trees approximately 20 feet apart to allow for the spread of the branches as they mature.
Test the soil pH levels, as much of Georgia's soil is too low for fruit trees, especially peaches, which grow best in a pH of 6.5. Consult with a local county extension office for assistance with testing and advice on the appropriate amendments.
Dig holes for the fruit trees that are twice as wide as the rootball or container diameter. Make the depth of the hole 1 to 2 inches shallower than the rootball so that flare of the trunk is just above ground level after planting.
Water trees during drought or dry spells, ensuring that the trees get about 3 inches per month, which is usually more than adequate for fruit trees.
Fertilize the trees in the fall with aged compost, if available, or a low-nitrogen, slow-release formula. Follow label instructions. Avoid high-nitrogen fertilizers, as they encourage foliage growth at the expense of fruit production. Never fertilize trees when planting.
Prune the fruit trees in the fall to remove dead wood and thin out the interior to allow better light penetration.
Things You Will Need
- Fruit trees
- Garden hose
- Purchase good quality fruit trees that are suitable for your hardiness zone. Local offices of the University of Georgia Extension Service may be contacted for advice on what fruit trees to choose. Most plum and apple trees are cross pollinating which means at least two trees will be needed for fruit production. Check with a supplier for the pollination characteristics of the trees you purchase.
- The Georgia Master Gardener Program is administered by the University of Georgia. It trains local volunteers in all aspects of gardening and horticulture. This service is an excellent resource for home gardeners to learn about all aspects of fruit tree selection and care as well as any other gardening related subject. Contact your local county extension office for more information.
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