When executing the layout and placement of the raised bed garden, I also considered the fruit trees we wanted to incorporate into the landscape. For me planting a few choice fruit trees seemed an obvious extension to having a veggie garden plus they do double duty. They not only provide edible ornaments but many act as showy anchors to the landscape. With many fruit trees there is a beautiful display of flowers usually accompanied by that wafting sweet fragrance so evident of spring time! Fruit trees also attract bees, import for a thriving garden. And unlike a veggie garden where each season the plants get plucked out of the soil, turned over and left for mulch or tossed into the compost pile, a fruit tree becomes a permanent fixture!
This reality of permanence meant that it was going to be important to choose our fruit trees wisely. I had compiled a rather long list of fruits that we love as potential contenders knowing that space was not an issue, but the desire to manage particular types of fruit trees was! I knew this from experience growing up in Southern California. There were fruit trees everywhere! My relatives, my friends, my neighbors and me all had a variety of fruit trees and some even had nut trees. Lets just say that there are not very many sorts of fruit trees that I have not climbed in, plucked fruit from, or been responsible for watering and caring for over the years. Ok….I haven’t ever scaled a date tree but I love to eat them. In fact just east out the Interstate 10 frwy from us, minutes past Palm Springs in the town of Indio we can get fresh picked Medjool dates. So……..I’ll leave the growing and harvesting of dates to the professionals.
Another example, I love apricots! They’re so pretty and silky to the touch and so delicate and delectable to eat. They are pricey in the stores! This alone could make an apricot tree a contender in my yard, however, I’ve had one. Setting aside the fact that apricots are yummy and the trees are gorgeous and fragrant in spring, their stickery, thorny like limbs and branches are killer on the flesh! Trimming these trees is torturous and even if you survive that, there are usually ants everywhere, traveling all up and down the skeletal form of the tree ALL THE TIME!. Apricot trees are subject to fire blight and other buggers so the use of pesticides now and then is expected. Freshly picked is the best as they also spoil quickly. Apricot trees weep sticky dew and you have to really thin out the fruits in order to get a good harvest. Then the ripe fruits you don’t manage to pick, fall off creating a gooey sticky mess all over the ground. It’s not much fun raking them up. And if you don’t rake them up they are already decomposing as they hit the ground creating a pungent unattractive odor……….and did I mention ANTS!!! Therefore, an apricot tree represents too many negatives for me..
The avocado tree is not deciduous like many fruit trees. An avocado trees retains its large full lush leaves year round much like a citrus although sheds leaves as a new crop emerges. These trees can grow mighty tall and mighty big making for an awesome shade tree. It has a majestic quality that rates high as an anchor tree for any yard. These trees require very little maintenance and are simple to prune and shape. Pruning and shaping allows one to control how big and/or tall therefore an avocado tree can be planted in various sized yards. They are resistant to bugs and bacteria so no getting out the Hudson sprayer! Of course the prize in having an avocado tree is……..well………. the avocados. Avocado lovers know I need say no more! And like the apricot, avocados are also pricey to buy and even then you are not always promised to get a ripe one when you want it. Thus, an avocado tree rates high on my list of criteria. In fact the Hass avocado was the first must have fruit tree I ordered.
So……… Hubby and I decided that our choices needed to fit a triple-criteria. The plan was to select fruit trees that would produce fruit we enjoy eating. Grow well in our zone 9b but require minimal care. The third being that these trees would add a measure of beauty and interest as some would be prominently placed in the landscape.
Here are the trees we selected:
- Valencia orange which was the only existing tree we were able to save in the whole backyard . It produces an amazing harvest every year so far. We make marmalade, we juice and these gems are even good for eating! Practically seedless! Who knew?
- Hass avocado was our first choice and we are choosing to manage it for production ( a rather simple task once a year) so we planted it in a prominent place in our back lot which I call the orchard.
- Fuyu persimmon for its beautiful vivid deep orange fruit that has an apple like eating quality. It stands next to the avocado tree in the orchard and in perfect contrast makes a stunning show of fiery fall leaves in autumn. And of course it is low maintenance.
- Dwarf Cara Cara navel also resides in the orchard. Its a citrus, so…… easy care. We love its sweet and juicy seedless pink flesh! For its small 4′ stature we harvested a bigger than expected crop 2012.
- Brown Turkey fig also a must have. It was planted as a companion next to our Valencia orange . It overlooks the raised bed garden and sets as a pretty specimen in view from our patio. I like the leaves and its curly cue growth pattern.
- Dwarf Satsuma tangerine takes main stage just aside of our patio. The fruit is seedless and extremely easy to peel. Green all year long and another minimal maintenance choice.
- Dwarf Meyer lemon is the sweeter of the lemons and is planted in the veggie garden along a wall where I am attempting to somewhat espalier it. It fills a dual purpose; inviting bees to explore the immediate area for pollinating flowering veggies plus lemons are a staple in many recipes. So a lemon tree was a must have, and again minimal maintenance.