container fruit for the summer

stropharia(8b louisiana)January 6, 2011

With the new year underway, I've (of course) been thinking about spring and summer gardening. I have very little in-ground space that gets good sun, so I use it for annual veggies, since I'll only live in this location for another year or so. The best sun is on my large deck. It is south-facing and gets full sun most of the day.

I'm very interested in container fruit gardening. I received a 'Meiwa' kumquat in a ~3 gal pot recently; I researched obsessively and then transplanted it to a ~12 gallon container with a airy mix of topsoil, peat/compost, and perlite, and mulched with pine straw.

My reading indicates that there are a LOT of fruit tree/shrub varieties that can be grown in pots. I've been looking at Raintree Nursery, and everything looks so great, I want it all! But it's semi-expensive, so I must be wise in my purchases. I'm interested in blueberries (but I think they take a while?), raspberries (really any berry, I'd guess), as well as various apples and citrus (meyer lemon looks promising, and 'Moro' blood orange!), not to mention the much smaller strawberries. Unique things like pomegranates and honeysuckle (apparently some have edible fruits?) are also exciting to me. Some of these listed take years to start fruiting, though, and that's not ideal for me yet.

All of the available information is overwhelming, much of it conflicting, and I don't know which fruits would actually be best for my situation. For instance, I plan to move away from here (Louisiana, zone 8b) in August, which is kind of prime time for fruiting for lots of plants (very frustrating!); therefore, I would much prefer fruits that will produce this year, and the earlier, the better (May-July harvest would be beautiful). The smaller, the better, too, since I'd like to bring most of my perennials with me when I move. However, smaller means less fruit, so I guess I mean 15 gallon pots are really pushing it. Also, I'll probably move somewhere slightly cooler than here, but only zone 7ish coastal areas, and I'm willing to bring any containers inside for winter months as necessary. I'd like to eventually grow plants that may require a few years of growth before production, but not until after moving.

So, with all of this in mind....

Have you grown any fruits in containers? What are your favorites, and why? Any suggestions for my situation? (extra points for tastiness, bounty, and hardiness).

Any other advice you'd give a novice gardener, like potting sizes/media, online nurseries, feeding regimens, what not to do, whatever?

Thanks for any help!

Here is a link that might be useful: Raintree Nursery

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My first advice would be to contact a local Master gardener or LSU Ag Center, or find them online. Also see if you can get a book from the library or at a bookstore if this is something you want to make a hobby of, buy a book you can refer to often.
I havent' really grown much fruit in containers, but you will see them at local garden centers even like HOme Depot or Lowe's, like lemons or other citrus trees. There will be a big difference I think between zone 8b and zone 7, I used to live 9b and now 7, much much colder days and for longer months, you will have to bring the pots in. So consider that. For example I had a big Meyer lemon tree outside in 9b but that would not grow outside here.
Not much help but I think you need some local advice and a good book. Also there is a container forum and fruit/orchard forum, if you haven't tried them yet.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2011 at 12:24PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

I'd strongly suggest that you wait until you make your big move to decide what varieties of tree fruits, etc., you're going to try. You'd be surprised at the difference even half a zone can make. Your location should be an important factor in some of your plant selections.

Your fruit options will probably increase as you to a more temperate climate. But, you won't be able to over winter deciduous plants inside, as they must have a cold dormant period. Citrus, if given enough sunlight, can do just fine indoors for the winter.

I'd also start very conservatively. Try a couple of veggie plants this season so you can experiment with the types of potting medium, etc. Trust me, the single most important factor in your success as a container grower will be the quality of the potting medium.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2011 at 4:45AM
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