Having food producing trees is a something I’ve always wanted. Part of wanting to be more self reliant and all. So,when I was living in an apartment I got a dwarf meyer lemon. I’ve now had it for 10 years and it produces fruit. It was great when I didn’t have a yard.
But now that I have a yard I want food producing trees I can grow outside…and that stay outside. Well, I can say that I’m now the proud owner of a couple fruit bearing trees that will be able to stay outside over the winter! Yeah! Last week I bought a cold hardy kiwi. And yesterday I bought two apple trees from a local nursery. So exciting!
“Lemon tree, very pretty, and the lemon flower is sweet, but the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat.”-Peter, Paul, and Mary.
That song line goes through my head almost every time I do anything with my lemon tree. The flowers of my lemon tree smell wonderful. I think all citrus flowers smell wonderful, but I love walking into the room where I overwinter the tree and smelling that sweet fragrance from my tree. It is a nice treat in the winter.
Meyer lemons are so yummy. They taste a bit like a cross between an mandarin orange and a lemon. But they are still too sour to just peel and eat like an orange. That is I find them still too lemon like to eat that way. If you already enjoy peeling and eating lemons like oranges, then definitely try a meyer lemon! I only use them for making lemonade and putting in my tea.
Dwarf meyer lemon trees stay small. Mine is over 10 years old and is barely 2 ft high. Which is a good thing if you live in a colder zone than zone 9. I’m in zone 7.
The meyer lemon trees aren’t cold hardy. They don’t like temps below 40 degrees F. I keep mine in a pot and carry it inside to overwinter in a south facing window. If it flowers while inside, which it seems to do every winter, I hand pollinate it using a small paintbrush. Running the brush around inside each flower and going around the tree a couple of times (probably overkill, but I don’t want to miss a flower). Then in the spring I take it outside (bringing it in for the night if the overnight temps get too low).
Unfortunately, my tree has never produced very much. The reason for that is my cats seem to want to treat it as a litter box. It is a constant fight every winter. This last year my poor tree didn’t produce any lemons since my kitten tried its darnedness to kill it the previous winter. The kitten practically dug up the tree! And knocked it over once. Erg! I’ve tried a bunch of things to keep the cats away. I’ve tried putting both toothpicks and chopsticks, with points sticking up, in the soil, but my cat just chews on them (my thinking was that pokey stuff might keep him out of the pot). I’ve tried putting the lemon peels on the soil in the pot (thinking since cats don’t like the smell of citrus it would keep him away). Next winter I’m going to try something I saw on Pinterest- plastic forks placed tines up (maybe he might not chew on those).
The kiwi tree was an impulse buy. My kids love kiwi fruit and when I saw the trees for sale in the gardening section of a big box home improvement store I couldn’t resist.
From research I’ve done since that purchase I’ve found out that kiwi need male and female trees in a 1:6 ratio (male to female) to produce fruit. That explains the tag saying male and female were in the pot I bought. I also found out that they are not trees, they are vines. They’ll need to be trellised.
The cold hardy kiwi produces smaller fruit than the type we buy in the store. The fruit is about the size of a grape. The skin is smooth, not fuzzy. From what I’ve read, the fruit still tastes the same. The image below shows the differences. (I pulled the image from a google image search.)
Unfortunately, it takes years for the vines to mature enough to produce fruit, roughly 5 to 9 years. So, it’ll be a while before we’ll see any fruit.
Yesterday I was on a mission to buy a fruit tree. At first I visited a couple of big box home improvement stores, but they didn’t have much. Then I remembered a local nursery not too far away. They didn’t have fruit trees, but they pointed me towards a nursery a bit farther away that did. Thank you!
It was a big nursery and after a bit of wandering, and getting side tracked by all the wonderful plants, I found the trees I was looking for. They had plums, apples, peaches, nectarines, apricots, paw paws, pears, pecan, and…something else I didn’t recognize and can’t remember that started with a ‘c’. Oh, the choices! I was drooling over them (good thing the ground was already wet from watering). After a bit of looking, and some very vocal opinions from my kids, I decided on getting an apple tree.
My son’s were both hoping for a Granny Smith and the nursery would order one for me, but I wanted to go home with a tree that day. So, I bought one yellow delicious and one honeycrisp apple tree. Yummy! I might, next year, buy a granny smith, because I’ve since read they do well in warmer climates.
Wait! I went looking for one tree! I only wanted one. but I two. What happened? I wasn’t because I was feeling ambitious or overwhelmed by all the choices. It was because I found out, after talking to the people at the nursery, that you need two varieties for pollination. The yellow delicious is a self-pollinator, but it produces more fruit if you have another variety for pollination. The yellow delicious is a variety that will help pollinate several varieties of other apple trees. Side note: I found out that the Gala and the Red Delicious are a good pairing for pollination (if you like those apples).
It might be several years before we see fruit from the apple trees. I forgot to ask at the nursery how old the trees are that I bought. Each is about 7 ft high and the tags say they will grow to be between 15 and 20 ft high. From what I’ve read semi-dwarf trees take 3-5 years before they fruit. In case you’re wondering, dwarf trees take 2-4 years to produce fruit and standard trees 6-10 years. I think I’ll call the nursery today to find out how old my trees are.
I’m so happy to have more fruit trees! Especially types I can plant in the ground and will stay outside. I’m not sure I have enough room in my yard for more trees and still have full sunlight for my garden and future gardening spaces, but I’d like to get a nut tree. And a Granny Smith. And a….See how this goes?
I’m off to plant them in the ground now.