The fruit tree addiction

mrsg47(7)February 13, 2013

I really started to laugh at myself this morning. I thought, well, I have the land; fruit trees have always been a marvelous site in spring and while fruiting (in others yards). I've always wanted a small semi-dwarf orchard. Well as of this spring I will now have a total of combination of 18 pome and stone-fruit trees. It is only me and my husband. The orchard is totally mine, my husband is a 'lawn' man. My house was built in 1893 it has no airconditioning and I cannot possibly can, make jam or bake in the months of july and august. What the heck am I going to do with all of this glorious fruit, that I have waited five to six years to pick? It is a fabulous dliemma. This is just a caution note( to all beginning 'backyard orchardists as myself). Order and ye shall receive! I have to throw my fruit tree catalogues into the trash before I am tempted to look at them. I really will have some lovely harvests this summer and fall. I might ask a few of the smaller growers if I can add my fruit (if they don't sell fruit) to their stand in the green market. Should be fun if I can do it! And I was thinking of taking on bees and honey? Someone make me stop. By the way, without all of the help from this forum, I would not be sitting in this tub of butter! Mrs. G

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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

You're not addicted until you start planting trees in between existing trees. Mine keep getting closer and closer!

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 1:20PM
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What if garden forum is the first thing you check in the morning??? Then you walk around staring at your plants like there will be something there that you didnt see yesterday, or the day before etc...... It's almost a sickness at some point but I don't quite know what that point is yet!!!

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 2:21PM
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It's despicable. I keep telling myself, "Enough, already!" Why do I need 6 new varieties of elderberries and 16 more currants?? Why 2 new white grapes? What about those stupid aronia that are coming--and the bush cherries and the cornelian cherries?? Do I honestly need 2 more apples, 2 more pears, and 3 more peaches??? Then again, there is that wasted space just south of the blackberries.........and if I take out that apricot and those plums that never amount to anything...............

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 3:01PM
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Noogy(6 sw mi)

S/he with the most trees and fruit wins!

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 3:28PM
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Its so good to know you're not the only fruitaholic on the block! I too check GW first thing in the am, and what is a day without at least 12 walks around each tree?

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 3:30PM
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ahajmano(sunset 23, Mission Viejo CA)

I have 110 varieties with only 1/4 acre of land


    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 5:12PM
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Ahjmano, how in the world are these trees planted. You must take a photograph. Fruitnut too! the more photos the better!

And I didn't mention the three hundred strawberry plants, the raspberries and the blackberries and currants. Yikes.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 5:30PM
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I'm just starting out but I have 56 acres to play with so I can plant as many as I want to. Right now I only have about a dozen fruit trees though I plan to plant a lot more.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 5:37PM
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Get a freezer. Save up the fruit frozen until the weather cools, make jam then.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 6:19PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

Last time I counted there were 170 trees and pots in my 1700 sq ft greenhouse. That's 10 sq ft per plant. And some of those have 3-4 varieties per plant.

Here's a picture before things leafed out last year. After leafing out you can't see far.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 7:49PM
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had trouble downloading fruitnut's pic....

and would like to see foto of "ahjamano" if willing and able....thanks

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 8:31PM
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I hear ya, MrsG47. I started 5 years ago and have 16 fruit trees (and grapes, blueberries, gooseberries, blackberries, strawberries).

Not sure why you can't preserve some of that goodness? I dehydrate a bunch of my apples, bag them and throw them in the freezer. I eat a bag a day and still have about two more months worth in the freezer.

Oh, and our old farmhouse was built pre-1900 and we bake and make jam. We open a window and put in a fan. Just like grandma used to do!

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 9:32PM
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"I have 110 varieties with only 1/4 acre of land

Pics/Video pls!!

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 9:48PM
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Bradybb WA-Zone8

I'm planting some of my excess at the property where I work.I may have to start asking some of my neighbors if they have any extra room.
I just received a delivery today of a Flavor Supreme,an Illinois Everbearing,a Silk Hope,a Pakistan and ten White Mulberry Brady

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 9:56PM
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Glad to see I'm not alone! And I only started all this a couple of years ago. You can check my profile to see everything I have currently. My wife and son think it's funny that I check on everything on a near daily basis.

MrsG, I also have a late 1800's home-- and I already have bees. I highly recommend them.

fruitnut, nice greenhouse!

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 10:29PM
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Fruitnut is a BEAST!!!!

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 10:39PM
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yukkuri_kame(Sunset 19 / USDA 9)

It can't be cured, but it can be managed. Prune aggressively twice a year.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 11:30PM
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bob_z6(6b/7a SW CT)

I hear you Mrs G- my new purchases bring me up to 180 varieties (including berries- I list them in my profile) on a half acre lot. Each year, I think I'm almost out of room, but I actually add more than I did the previous year. That includes ~70 new trees this spring, though I'll keep 2/3 in pots. I haven't planted any in between the existing trees yet- I've mostly started working around the edges of the yard now. I've even offered to pay to have neighbor's trees cut down for light. I too am considering keeping bees, though I am deathly afraid of them.

Fruitnut- that's a good pic of a great greenhouse. Have you ever heated it all winter? I've been thinking about what it would take to have ripe fruit year round. I'm guessing you would need a large walk-in freezer (keeping it at ~38 degrees) to rotate the trees through, in order to get their chill hours and stagger the harvests. You'd also need to be close enough to the equator to get enough sun even during the winter. I'm guessing it would be massively inefficient. But, someday I'd like to be able to grow my own peaches and berries year round (rather than buying them from Chile). It's not close on the horizon for me at all- just an idle daydream for now. Maybe a fun retirement project someday...

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 12:27AM
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It's so nice to know that I'm not quite as mad as some. ;) And here I thought I was going a tiny bit overboard with 32 fruit trees, and around 30 (Plans aren't finalized yet) nut trees. Keep planting folks! Then I can point in your direction when people tell me I'm nutz. [laughing]

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 1:13AM
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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)

Personally I blame GardenWeb. I had plans for 4 apple trees, then I got on GardenWeb and now I have 53 trees, 10 grapes, 5 kiwis, gooseberries, magnolia vines, a saskatoon, 10 figs, and on order I have currants, blackberries, asparagus, and more that I can't think of now. My house is on 10,000 sq. feet. We ripped out 13 trees and numerous bushes. In fact the only thing still remaining is my Silver Maple (which reminds me, it's time to start tapping it ).

Before GardenWeb I thought pawpaws were something that grew in Africa. I certainly didn't know I needed them.

I have planted at least 6 fruit trees at my dad's house, and I'm planning on planting an orchard at my aunt's house in Iowa this spring (12 trees).

I'm hoping that when I finally start getting some good crops my drive to have more will be lessened.

Is there a name for this addiction? Is there a cure? I really do feel sorry for people that don't know there's anything out there other than what's at the grocery store. Once you taste a tree-ripened fruit there's no going back.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 2:18AM
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See people!

This is what happens when you don't quarrantine a disease, it spreads then everyone has it.

People don't go to the crack house unless they are looking to score.

Getting the shakes, gotta go.

Fruitnut, nice pic.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 2:42AM
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alan haigh

I have a friend who is a retired teacher that likes to pick surplus fruit of my customers and bring them to a food bank. He is well loved there for his contributions and also grows and delivers a lot of vegetables for the same purpose.

Years ago, food banks would sometimes reject cosmetically imperfect fruit, but I believe that as more educated people have in recent years found themselves out of work and out of food there are more who don't feel insulted by being offered free fruit that aint so pretty. Especially when they find out how great it tastes.

So you may be able to find a grateful home for your fruit surplus when the harvest gets out of hand.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 6:30AM
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Interesting thread particualrly since it relates directly to what I'll be facing in a couple of years. I am lucky enough to have 30 some acres and unlucky enough to reallly like trees so over the last 4 years I've planted a couple of hundred fruit trees; mostly apple and cherry with a handful of plum plus a few pear and peach. This year I'm only adding about a dozen trees bit I am going to install some irrigiation which will be this years big project.

starting this year (I hope) I should have more apples than I know what to do with. Long term my plan was to have a hobby orchard for my retirement (still a few years away). Seems like it'll provide plenty of work and I'm still learning a lot every year which I like. This forum has been a godsend and I thank everyone for the suggestions and advice.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 6:57AM
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I am not addicted! I can quit any time I want; I just don't want to! No space; planting fruit that I can't realy use. But after I plant, I fell relaxed and at peace with the world. I dream of fruit trees and fruit bushes. This is normal, right?

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 7:04AM
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Great point HM on your excess harvest, the older I get, the more I realize the blessing of giving to others. I am just got started my home orchard last year, I am up to about 50 trees now and my goal is to being able to take some fresh fruit to some food pantries in my area.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 7:12AM
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Milehigh, I agree with you that garden web is to blame. The first fruit tree I bought was a scraggly little powder blue rabbiteye from home depot. I pretty much neglected it for the first year. After it was on its death bed I got to researching on line for some remedies. Low and behold, I came across Fruitnuts post on one year old blueberry growth on Garden Web. I was floored!!! Off to the races I went and haven't looked back;) 2.5 years and 40+ blues, 7 citrus, 8 blackberries, muscadine grapes, fig and a peach tree later, here we are. I think I've read every article on the net about blues 3 times over. I've quit even looking as I can't find any I haven't read several times. Now on to peaches, grapes and figs! So much to grow and such little time, thanks Garden Web!!!!!!! Thanks a lot!!!!!!!

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 7:22AM
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The food bank has never turned down any fruit I bring them.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 11:00AM
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H-man we do have a food bank here and what a great idea, I'll call them this summer. AND Fruitnut, what a fantastic orchard you have in a greenhouse! It is magic. We all have something wonderful in common and milehigh said it so well (paraphrasing) once you have tree ripened fruit you just cannot go back to the grocery store. I am so amazed when I have friends and family come to visit they are mystified and rather in awe of seeing huge peaches on a tree, plums turning deep purple, but the best part is when they take out their 'i-phones' and start taking pictured of my 'bagged apples'. I really laugh. It is work that they just don't understand, but they appreciate the fruit when a basket of apples is left on their doorstep. I feel so lucky that I have the space to grow what I like. And not to 'be-little' the smaller fruits, my fresh raspberry tarts and black currant gelato is a gift many pals love. Fruit is to me the most rewarding of all things to grow. Mrs. G

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 12:33PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX


I only heat to 34 to 39F during winter. It's way to expensive heating for off season fruit plus I need a cool couple months for chill units. Every 1F warmer costs $10-15 per month in my 1700 sq ft greenhouse. This winter so far I'm only about $200 total heating bill. Some winters might be double that. Our outdoors winter temp average about 60/30F, day/night, so heating to 34F isn't much.

I have tried for off season fruit in my sunroom where I don't need chilling. Blueberries did well. Figs not so much. This winter just trying a couple blueberries.

With apples and pears in storage and citrus in the greenhouse, off season fruit is not essential.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 1:55PM
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Mrs G, While I can't help your addition, you might want to setup a summer kitchen to handle the preserving during the hot months.

Most older homes in hot climates had an outdoor kitchen area to do all the cooking and preserving in the summertime. They weren't fools, no way they would run a cook stove indoors in August. It could be as simple as a BBQ with a side burner for boiling a large pot of whatever. Or you could go fancy, there are quite a few options for outdoor cooking appliances these days, beyond a simple propane BBQs.

I know of one avid gardener in OK city, who sets up an outside kitchen every summer to handle all their cooking and preserving needs. And an outdoor kitchen is on my list too, just a bit further down than the top items I am working on....

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 5:16PM
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My house was built in 37 but luckily it has central A/C in it now. Going out tonight to get a couple more apple trees and a couple more pear trees. That is all I have the money for right now.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 6:04PM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

No addiction here..just trying to figure out how to grow good tasting, clean fruit, with minimal sprays, annually... with low losses :) Yeah...ill be dead before i figure that all out!@

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 6:25PM
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An outdoor summer kitchen sounds great. Will I need a pergola, or roof over it? I would love to know what it looks like.

Frank, I know you're just growing fruit to dip into dark chocolate! Mrs. G

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 6:33PM
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Excess fruit? Besides cider and drying, the idea of a food bank can be a good one. They will almost always accept the fruit....but the problem is that you don't know if the customer will accept it. Guaranteed, though, there are some customers who will indeed accept good fruit even if it is not cosmetically pleasing to the eye (if, say, the home-owner didn't spray the fruit). I have found one of the best recipient communities of home-grown fruit are immigrant communities. They don't just say they appreciate the fruit but really do appreciate the fruit and.....having come from a poorer country.....many times just can not understand how we Americans can be so rich as to just let our fruit go to waste (and not waist).

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 8:13PM
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bob_z6(6b/7a SW CT)

Fruitnut, How warm would you need to keep it to ripen peaches, cherries, etc during the winter? 50 at night maybe? I can see how that would get pricey, at $200+ per month. While I might be prepared to do something like that, I doubt that my wife would approve.

I've been trying two potted (5 gal bucket) Sweetcrisp blueberries in south facing windows/sliding doors. As they are low chill, I calculated the hours (and was at 1.5-2X) and brought them inside in mid-December, before it got really cold. I remember seeing how you've had luck with Sweetcrisp without pollination. Not so much for me- I had lots of blooms, but no set on one plant. The other one (in a colder area of the house- 60 vs 75) is still in bloom, so we'll see.

I also brought in a potted Prime Jan (primocane-fruiting) blackberry in November after it got partially zapped by the cold. It had some flowers just opening at the time. They've since set berries and are just starting to ripen. It's also making more flowers, so it seems like it could do well in an extended season situation. Maybe next year I'll bring it in before the frost zaps it, as it seemed to take a while to recover and dropped a lot of leaves.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 11:00PM
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Beeone(4 N. Wyo.)

Mrs. G Few older homes in my area have air conditioning, mine included, but many of the houses have canning kitchens in the basement. Really simple--a sink, a stove, and a counter or table to work on. The basement stays nice and cool in the summer so canning isn't such a hot experience. If you have the sink, a table is easy, and even a camp cookstove works as long as it is big enough to put out the necessary heat.

Since the canned goods are typically stored in the basement, this works really well by not having to carry the canned goods down to put away and the heavy kettles and everything just stay down there.

I have a neighbor who does it outdoors in the shade of the trees in the yard, no other roof. She uses a gas cooker, like the ones they use to boil turkeys in oil, and sets a couple old doors on saw horses for a table nearby. She'll bring a tub of water out of the house, or do all her prep in the kitchen, then just bring things out for the cooker. She really enjoys working this way as she has some hummingbird feeders in the trees and can sit in a lawn chair while watching things cook and be entertained by the hummingbirds.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 12:35AM
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Beeone, that sounds delightful. Actually I do have a sink and a full sized 'extra fridge' in the basement, but no stove. Will have to look into that, as they are not expensive. Our basement has all stone walls but due to the dampness in our area all summer long it is filled with mildew. We have a large dehumidifyer that works really well. I will have to look into this. Working outdoors just might work too. Sounds lovely. Thanks! Mrs. G

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 9:12AM
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Couldn't help myself. Just ordered an 'Early Crawford' peach. It sounds delish! Mrs. G

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 9:14AM
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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)

I have been planning on putting in a summer kitchen. I don't think it would be that hard to just hook up a utility sink to a hose faucet and then use the grill. What I would really like is an outdoor oven so I could bake in the summer also. I looked into making a brick pizza oven but that would be too much work.

The house my grandfather grew up in in New Mexico had a summer kitchen. It just makes sense!

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 2:35PM
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kngskid(Georgia zone 7b)

I come by for the laughs, you guys are funny!

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 2:52PM
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Milehigh, I too covet the fab outdoor pizza oven (but) at $2,400 a pop I think a sink, a grill and a pergola just might do it!

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 3:44PM
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My name is Sally....

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 9:52PM
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prestons_garden(9B SZ 22 HZ 6 SoCal)


I would have to say you are an inspiration to me and my accomplishments. If I lived by, I would constantly be picking your brain.

Email me sometime, I would like ask a few questions about your operation.


    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 10:53PM
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GreenOrchardMom(Ga Mts 7)

MrsG47 your future pergola dripping with lush vines & those hummingbird feeders makes me want to come build your brick oven!

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 10:59PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

Beautiful greenhouse, fruitnut. And MrsG47, I sure understand! I have over 150 different fruit trees, bushes and vines on my 1 acre. Here is S. California, we have to consider the cost of water, and hoping that I will be able to figure out a way to drop a well without also dropping about $20,000 (about the cost of a well here in S. California). So, I have to have everything carefully regulated on a drip system, but so worth it when you can simply walk out and pick your citrus for the morning, or a bucket full of incredible cherries. Boy, if Armegeddon ever shows up, we're all set ;-)

Patty S.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 11:03PM
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Konrad___far_north(3..just outside of Edmonton)

Great to hear, MrsG47! It's truly a nice hobby to have, brings you outdoor into nature.
What's next,...grafting?

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 11:13PM
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A family can chow down a lot of food. The problem with growing fruit is that one often moves or else the kids are grown by the time the trees get producing fully! Oh, the dreams, though. Northwoodswis

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 2:20AM
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Konrad you're a mind reader! Grafting and bees are really two things I would love to learn about. I believe I have all of the trees now that I want (for now). Grafting is the way to go forward for more varieties. I wish there was a class on grafting I could take in my area. I have an email in to my local university's head of horticulture. She is so helpful. I am also asking her about my soil and fertilizer needs. We have no CPS anywhere near where I live, unfortunately. Thank you all again. Mrs. G

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 12:51PM
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Noogy(6 sw mi)

Mrs. G,
Check out you tube. You'll be delighted with the different postings.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 1:34PM
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Thanks Noogy! Grafting? Right?

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 2:20PM
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I'm not usually a plant-first, read-info-later kinda guy but now that I have a big yard with full sun I have kind of gone off the deep end - for all the same reasons everyone mentions above. Just the other day I was showing someone my new kiwi vine trellis system. They asked how much fruit you can pick from one vine. I read the book and it said 150 lbs. I then counted out my vines = 5 females, 2 males. Do the math. Keep in mind that only TWO people live in this house.

Recently I gave a "backyard fruit" talk to a local garden club. I showed them my species list - neatly typed, single space, each line showing common and scientific names and where and when I bought the plant. My list was four full pages long!!! My garden is only 1 acre. No surprise they asked me to come back and give a "pruning" talk.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 4:22PM
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Trianglejohn! You're so right! Right into the deep end of fruit! How good is that? I'd keep the garden club ladies on my side, after teaching them, perhaps they will help you prune! (for a basket of apples!)

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 4:35PM
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chills71(Zone 6b Mi)

125+ varieties of various fruit, including passionfruit, persimmon, kiwis, figs (too many of these) and many many more... 1/8th acre...

Yep,my name is Scott and I have an edibles gardening problem. (Out of space mostly). I've got about 15 potted trees that need to move beyond 5 gal to at least 10 gal containers this spring...

Yes, I do have an order into an online nursery again this year already too. (Though one of my MUST adds were out of stock everywhere again this year)


    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 8:38PM
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Glad to know I'm not the only guy with a bunch of pots in the back that were going to go somewhere that hasn't been prepared yet. :)

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 10:59PM
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