Any hope for this beginner

thecityman, Zone 7a/6b near NashvilleOctober 6, 2013

Hi Folks. I've spent countless hours perusing the fruit tree forum, and as much as I enjoy it, I always end up being reminded how far behind the rest of you I am, how little I know, and wondering if I'll ever be able to actually grow fruit. My question is: Can anyone suggest any websites, books, or other resources that are at a more novice/beginner level to help someone like me with almost no knowledge of fruit trees learn how to manage them? Even the publications by my state university/extension office assumed knowledge I just don't have. You see, I've been a city boy all my life. 2 years ago I bought a little place in the country and like an idiot, I rushed out and bought and planted cherry (sweet & sour), apple, pear, peach, plum, and fig trees. The good news is I've managed to keep them alive and they have grown so next year I'll have 3 year old trees. The bad news is many of them have problems and since a little fruit might even be possible next year, I know I need to be starting pest and disease control. But I'm hopelessly lost and desperately need some clear, beginner level instructions with when to spray and what to spray. For example, my peach trees grew great for a few weeks, then all the tips would die (OFM?). I'm not expecting anyone to type up a response thorough enough to tell me what to do to all these kinds of trees and when to do it....but I am darn sure hoping someone can tell me where to go to learn that kind of thing. And yes, before you all say it....I certainly should have done more research before buying and planting 10 different kinds of fruit trees (total of 20...usually just planted a tree and a similar pollinator). Thanks.
Oh....I'm in middle Tennessee near Nashville.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

For me it has been two steps forward, one step back. I think the best advice I ever got from anyone about anything was this: "Just keep at it- you'll get it."

You've got twenty trees to practice on, which gives you some room for error. If you ever get all twenty up to full production you'll have a lot of fruit!

I know that's terribly vague, but if you take each tree one at a time, and as problems come up bring them here for suggestions, I think you'll get it and have a blast doing it.

Good luck,


    Bookmark   October 6, 2013 at 7:38AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Here's where you should have started. They should have a lot more information about spraying and pruning, etc.

Here is a link that might be useful: Tennesse extension

    Bookmark   October 6, 2013 at 10:24AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
mjmarco(Zone 6 Upstate NY)

Well, you started just like the rest of us...plant, grow, and see what happens.

I don' t know what to expect in your location so the best advice is to look for the basic spray program...but keep in mind there is no reason to spend money on sprays if you don' t have a you have us. Or should I say Gardenweb...!

I can tell you each year I learned something new until I found the right timing, the right timing, the right timing...did I say the right timing on spraying....and the right product and then you pray Mother Nature is working for you that year.

Do some researching on here or at your local extension. Do the basic spray program and see how you do. Each year will be a little different...last year because of a late frost I lost all my blossoms this year I have more apples then I can handle and talk about the best flavors and sweetness....the best year for me in 15 years of growing by far.

Cityman, just watch Mother Nature and enjoy if you have a problem, there are a lot of helpful, knowledgeable people here...

    Bookmark   October 6, 2013 at 5:22PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The Cityman,

One of the books for fruit growing beginners that I like is called Backyard Fruit Production by David R. Schlabach.

Schlabach is also an Amish-run nursery. They don't have website. You can call Schlabach nursery at (585) 798-6198 to order the book or their fruit tree catalog (if you are interested in buying more trees).

I'll say that feeling helpless, discouraged, frustrated is very common among backyard gardeners like us. I've grown fruit trees for 5 years. I still feel that there are so much that I don't know. You are not alone.

As you may know, each kind of fruit tree often has its own problem of diseases and insects. It's difficult to make a blanket statement on how to deal with all of them. You'd be better off asking specific questions. People here are very kind and generous. If they have answers, they will let you know.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2013 at 6:21PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
thecityman, Zone 7a/6b near Nashville

I sincerely want to thank all of you for both the information and the encouragement! Its nice to know that even though everyone on here sound like professionals to me, you have had some of the same feelings I am having. I still can't believe I thought I could just plant 2-3 similar trees of each type of fruit (for pollination-I did know that much) and then just wait 3-5 years and start eating fruit. ha. Clearly its a little more complicated than that. But I definitely have the fever. My 2.5 year old fig trees (2 of them) produced beyond my wildest dreams this year and that just really lit my fire to get my other plants to produce more fruit. Anyway, if anyone else has any web sites, links, or books to help me learn what a basic spray program should involve, and other basic info, I'll be watching this thread. Thanks again. Kevin

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 12:16AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)


GW is the best place. I've purchased a lot of book, even the one suggested above, but by far the most help comes from this forum.

My initial plan was to try to squeeze five apple trees into my yard. Now I have over 50 trees, plus many berries as well. The love of growing fruit was passed down to me from many generations, but the knowledge has come from the great group of people here.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 2:30AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Cityman, I'm in a fairly similar climate in North Carolina. I wonder if you have acidic, mostly clayey soil as well. To the extent that our conditions are similar, figs definitely stand out on your list as a very rewarding fruit to grow, requiring practically zero purchased inputs. For me the different rabbiteye type blueberries varieties have got to be my next most rewarding, easy-to-get-to-succeed fruit. They take some work as far as keeping weeds down, and I watered them pretty carefully (even more so than the average fruit tree) the first year or two, but they produce lots of high quality fruit without any real troubles. Muscadines would be another similarly naturally-happy-in-my-location fruit, although I don't value them quite as highly as figs and blueberries. There are lots of other options for fruit that will be more like your figs if you want to take the path of least resistance, some of which I've seen succeed for other people nearby but have only recently planted myself. Especially given my low-input management preferences, I should have invested heavier in some of those less common fruits instead of the fruits I was used to eating from the store. I think hardy kiwis are about the best fruit ever, for example, but I've only gotten to eat fruit from other people's vines so far. As far as the other trees you already have planted, pears, especially if they're fireblight resistant cultivars and your general location and specific site aren't too prone to fireblight, may be your next easiest fruit to produce a good crop with. Some pears just take more time. (Asian pears are really tasty, easier to ripen -- you can just pick them ripe off the tree instead of the more involved process with regular European pears -- and they come on faster.) Some sour cherries also seem to be pretty easy to grow. I have a sour cherry tree that was planted in an out of the way place before I moved here, and with no more care than bush hogging around it once or twice a year it produces a good crop about every other year. Birds take up to half the crop in the good years and about all the remaining crop in years with late frosts. I would expect sweet cherries, peaches, and plums to be your most challenging crops because of fungal diseases and insect pests (and possibly late frosts and with the sweet cherries additionally birds and cracking.) Some people seem to be able to grow apples with mostly just cosmetic issues with hardly any inputs and other people seem to struggle to get anything even with multiple sprays. If I had given more attention to grass/weed competition I might be able to say more about apples already. Some trees, like, for example, my pears, chestnuts, peaches, plums, mulberries -- selected native and native cross mulberries are another easy-to-get-to-succeed fruit, by the way -- seemed to get by fine for me with very minimal attention to grass/weed competition, but other trees (most notably pawpaws) seem to really languish under that kind of competition. I guess one thing I'm trying to recommend is that you figure out which of your trees have decent hopes of succeeding in your location with the kinds of inputs (whether sprays, watering, mulching, bird netting, trellising, amount of pruning, etc., etc.) you're willing to invest in them and then concentrate on those trees and possibly find new additions that will match your style and location best. If you can find other fruit growers in your immediate area and find out what works for them with what kind of inputs I think those are possibly your best places to start the process of learning what you're wanting to learn. I also wouldn't underestimate how much better cultivars of the same fruits there may be for your location than what the local big box stores sell.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 7:28AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Tony(Zone 5. Omaha, Nebraska)

I just wanted to add Scott's reminder calendar to help you. Good Luck.


Here is a link that might be useful: Scott's Calendar

This post was edited by tonytran on Mon, Oct 7, 13 at 10:19

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 9:58AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

The best advice is local, where they know your growing conditions, your weather and your soil. Get to know your local county extension service. When you have a problem, you can take a sample of your problem to them for diagnosis. If you have a bug you wonder about, like are they good bugs or bad, capture one and take it to your county extension. Most of our bugs are beneficial and killing them helps the bad bugs. Al

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 10:29AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
thecityman, Zone 7a/6b near Nashville

you guys are the best! Thanks so much for the info. Especially cousinfloyd who took a lot of time and seems to really be tuned in to my area and my thoughts on growing fruit. The calendar link is also awesome! Also, the mention of hardy kiwi has peaked my interest! I've seen them in big box stores but figured they were mostly a gimmick....I'm going to try them! Thanks so much, everyone, for taking the time to try to help this want-to-be grower!

    Bookmark   October 26, 2013 at 11:59AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

best advice i can tell you is to look up local growers/nursery in your area and go talk to them. fing out whats best in your area too start with, are not always a good resoruce the local guy is your best bet. start with a coule easy plants and go from there. for exapme, the area i live in some avacado trees can be damaged in winter so our local nurserys only sell the cold hardy ones but lowes/home iss mixed matched with what they sell

    Bookmark   October 26, 2013 at 12:21PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Best tasting pawpaw varieties
I would love to hear from others who have tasted different...
My Spupreme plum turns into Alderman!
At Plant Hill Nursery! They don't have a email address,...
November Vole Damage
Voles have attacked my apple trees. A few of them are...
Lime and lemon tree Houston area?
Best lime and lemon tree for Houston area? What are...
plum truble
I have a gold plum tree aprox 5years old. It has always...
john zone 8
Sponsored Products
Area Rug: Flicker Green 5' 3" x 7' 6"
Home Depot
Toscano Dining Table - Medium Medium
Joybird Furniture
Porcello Grey and Ivory Rectangle: 5 Ft. 3 In. x 7 Ft. 7 In. Area Rug
$209.95 | Bellacor
Upton Home Lafond End/ Side Table
Copeland Furniture | Catalina Four-Door Buffet
Sunscape Steel Zoid Planter - ZP1S
$239.99 | Hayneedle
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™