Moving to North Carolina, zone 8b

tracydr(9b)April 29, 2014

Hi all! I'm moving to NC this summer. Hoping to get a nice acreage, maybe 40 acres. We have a few horses and would like to run a couple of longhorns as well. I will also have all sorts of poultry from chickens to peacocks, guineas and turkeys.
I'm contemplating retiring for health reasons from my medical practice. I've thought about having a fruit orchard ( probably you-pick and maybe preserves, fresh veggie stand, depending on state regulations for this sort of thing. I hope to have a greenhouse and maybe do a few tropical fruits,too.
I've been reading about the various fruits that do well. Here's what I'd like to grow:
Cold hardy citrus
Cherries?? Sour would be good
Blackberries and raspberries
Paw paws

I would also like to do a mango, Meyer lemon and guavas. Maybe a banana? I assume these need the greenhouse?
I've had a number of these fruits before but many ( like blueberries) will be new to me.
Organic growing, only.
Any hints as to fruits that will or won't work? Anything I missed that will do well? I will probably do melons in the garden. What varieties are recommended for that area? Specifically, Pembroke or nearby.
I also know nothing about a commercial orchard, on any scale. I've mostly done a large home vegetable garden , some peaches and apples when I was in OK and livestock of all sorts.

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I need to add pomegranate. Will these grow there? I just love the pretty bush-trees and it's a favorite fruit in my family.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 10:17PM
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Plums. I assume they grow very well?

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 11:06PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Tracy, if you want to be organic I would leave out the apples, peaches, plums, sweet cherries, quince, and stick to muscadine grapes. At least for pick your own scale. If you really wanted to do PYO on those I would start with just an experimental tree or two and scale up if those worked. Last time I looked there were zero tree fruit orchards in the mid-atlantic area that were organic. Lots of "we are starting up and plan to be organic" keep popping up, but I never have seen one make it. Thats because its very difficult. I did fully organic for about ten years and its a huge amount of extra work and the fruits come in mostly below what is considered market quality these days. So, now I'm about 90% organic.

The other things are all possible although they have their own difficulties. For example, stink bugs will ruin every kind of fruit if not controlled. I would recommend the fuzzy kiwis, they are hardy enough for your climate. I don't know much about the greenhouse stuff but I did have a greenhouse going for awhile and it was a lot more work than I thought it would be: while many pests are not there at all, others such as scale really thrive and are not amenable to organic controls.


    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 9:22AM
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I'm in NC, Wake County (Raleigh) so not the same zone or climate as you are planning but I have some experience with everything on your list. I only have a one acre garden and it is focused mainly on berry bushes which require the least amount of care in my opinion.

It all depends on what you mean by "organic". If you mean absolutely NO chemicals, then some things are going to be very difficult to grow in that environment. If you include chemical sprays deemed "organic" by the fruit growing industry you can grow most but even then a few things will be pretty hard to get a decent crop.

I have a greenhouse full of tropical trees and after a few years I had to give up on the organic idea and start spraying just to keep the insect pest levels down (they're still not gone completely). Citrus and Guavas are bug magnets in the winter when everything is closed up.

Outside in the garden the things that require no spraying whatsoever are Blueberries (but I do have to acidify the soil around them constantly), Aronia, Goumi, Pineapple Guavas, Elderberry, native plum (Prunus angustifolia), Figs, Crabberries, Jujube, Mulberry, Wineberries, Pawpaws, Raspberries (reds are difficult here), Persimmons (Asian and American), Muscadines and Kiwis (both hardy and fuzzy).

All the pears, peaches, nectarines, quince, blackberries, apples and plums require a lot of spraying (organic sprays failed me after a few years). Blackberries, Table Grapes and Bush Cherries only need a few sprays and the organic ones usually work. Peaches grow so well but the fruit is always ruined by Brown Rot without some form of protection - either a lot of work or a rigorous spray program. Of the apples, William's Pride produces the best with only a few sprays and Arkansas Black could go without any sprays but it isn't my biggest producer and the fruit doesn't taste all that good until the tree is in production mode for 4-5 years (last year was the first year my 5 year old tree gave decent flavored fruit).

The experts will tell you that over towards the coast with the warmer temps and sandier soil they can't grow much but when you talk to old timers they all remember apples in their grandma's garden.

Good luck. Welcome to NC.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 2:05PM
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I live in central NC. On my entire estate (ha ha which is two acres) I can grow two things strictly organic:
Fuyu persimmons

Everything else will need some non-organic help IF you want fruit. I have mostly apples and the most devastating things that prohibit an organic regimen are an insect called plum curculio and a fungus called cedar apple rust. If I don't spray for these, I don't get fruit, or very little at all.

I have heard that pawpaws can be grown organically and figs, too. I haven't tried to grow pawpaws (I simply don't care for them) but I have tried figs and unless they are against a structure, like the backside of a house, etc..mine have not survived the late winter winds.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 2:21PM
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I agree with everything posted here except blackberry. What are y'all spraying for? I have a few berries that taste like stinkbug but that is about it.
My biggest problem and the thing I spray most for is Bermuda grass.
Some of my no-spray trees that everyone listed were hit by ambrosia beetles the last two years and killed so even those I will need to spray in the spring.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 6:09PM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

Blackberries will likely need spray too in the foreseeable future. Once SWD becomes well established across the U.S. I expect most places will have to spray to harvest maggot free berries.

Recently I read an Update from IL or MI (can't remember which) and they indicated a lot of raspberry growers have removed plantings because of SWD.

Starting a U-pick is a lot more work than doctoring. Fruit growing is a very labor intensive business.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 8:07PM
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I grow 'Apache', 'Navaho' and 'Triple Crown' Blackberries and some years they really suffer from Botrytis, and some times the leaves show signs of some type of rust or fungus. They have tons of air flow so that is not the problem.

I forgot to mention Pomegranites - Pembroke County might be warm enough for 'Wonderful' or 'Angel Red' or any of the other red types, they all fail for me. The only survivors are the Russian types with pale pink insides and brown or yellow outsides, most are sour not sweet.

It seems that every year there is a new type of disease or pest being discovered - its hard to plan when you don't know whats around the corner.

Wildlife eating my fruit is a bigger problem than any disease or bug.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 9:49PM
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meredith_e Z7b, Piedmont of NC, 1000' elevation

You might give an almond a shot if you enjoy them. I'm crazy about nuts, so I have the All-in-One almond here in the Piedmont, but I don't know if I'll ever see much fruit because the frosts often get the blooms. It's a beautiful tree regardless, lol.

I also grow American hazelnuts, but none of my fruit/nut trees are mature enough to bear yet.

I do plan on having to use insecticides (fungicides don't bother me), but I'm hoping to mostly get by with spinosad (organic!). I'll need stronger for things like stink bugs, but I'll keep that to the bare minimum as the plan.

I've had great luck with strawberries and figs so far, all organically grown :) I have figs that still crop later even if they have to regrow from the roots each spring due to the harsh winter. They don't always get hit hard by the winter even here, so I bet you'd get great early crops on yours (if you chose varieties that had early crops as well as later ones).

Welcome! NC is wonderful :) Buggy and hot, but wonderful.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 8:52PM
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