Advice on Starting New Mini-Orchard in 6b, South of Boston

I am new to this forum. I just finished clearing a 100 ft stretch of land along the end of my property line facing west. I already grow a few dozen varieties of figs, several of blueberries, raspberries and boysenberries. I’ve also been an avid vegetable gardener for 25+ years. I would like to get into getting some fruit trees suitable to my zone in the area illustrated above. I already laid down a weed barrier. I started a few Oscar and Kokuso Mulberries from cutting this past winter and they’re actively growing in 8 gallon pots. I was thinking about putting them at the outer ends of the stretch of land. In between I was thinking of placing 6 dwarf fruit trees, spacing them 10 ft apart. So far the plan for my 100 ft stretch is shaping up to be:

  1. Kokuso Mulberry (I already have this in an 8 gallon container) - provide 20 ft separation from adjacent tree
  2. Dwarf Liberty Apple (self-pollinator)
  3. Dwarf Lapins Cherry (self-pollinator) or Dwarf Black Gold Cherry (self-pollinator) or Dwarf Stella (self-pollinator) or Dwarf Sweetheart Cherry (self-pollinator)
  4. Dwarf Red Haven Peach (self-pollinator)
  5. Dwarf SunGlo Nectarine (self-pollinator)
  6. Nikita’s Gift Persimmon (self-pollinator) - later add Mikkusu/JT-02 graft once established
  7. Hosui Asian Pear (self-pollinator?)
  8. Oscar Mulberry (I already have this in an 8 gallon container) - provide 20 ft separation from adjacent tree

Other fruit trees under consideration: pawpaws

The preliminary plan is to provide 10 ft of space among the dwarf trees, place the mulberries on each end to “frame the space” and give them 20 feet from the adjacent tree. I hope I’m getting this right. Still very open to feedback from the experienced growers on this forum.

My goal is to set myself up for minimal maintenance, good amount of the best possible tasting fruit for 5-6 people and a nice looking landscape (since I also live at this location).


@Marco – Nice plan. FWIW, as I live nearby:

  1. Mulberry. I had great performance from Illinois Everbearing until severe wind cracked the trunk last year. An important plus was the gradual ripening – We picked a nice bowl each day over ~6 weeks from late June to early August. I’ve planted a replacement as well as a Kokuso. My only caveat is that you may need more than 20’ of separation. Oh, you’ll also need good protection from deer.

  2. Peaches. I’ve also had good results from both Redhaven and Early Redhaven. We just finished picking the latter, starting the former, so they fit together perfectly. You’ll need to spray for peach leaf curl.

  3. Asian pear. I’m obsessed with concern about fireblight, so I planted Shinko. It is self-pollinating. DK about Hosui.

  4. Apple. Liberty works well. Protect bark from voles and rabbits.

  5. Persimmon. Among hybrids, I don’t grow Nikita’s Gift. I have a Kassandra planted in 2017 that’s loaded with fruit this year plus a very young Mikkusu / JT-02. Both of these seem immune to cold here. This will (I hope) be the first year harvesting hybrid fruit. I’ve also got three Ichi Ki Kei Jiro, which suffered some cold damage in the first couple winters but are now hardy. We harvested 100 per tree last year. You might consider a non-astringent variety.

For all of these, you will need to protect foliage from deer and fruit from raccoons, squirrels, etc. I’ve found it impossible without serious fencing, which can detract from the view as landscape.


I am in central MA. Will you spray chemicals if needed?

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I have a garden 30 feet away from the area. I do not plan on spraying with chemicals.

I recognize your same username from Ourfigs. Nice to see a familiar face. :slight_smile: May I ask where you got your JT-02? I’m still very new to fruit trees and it showed when I attempted to root some JT-02 scions that I bought online this past winter. I wouldn’t mind grafting a few Mikkusu/JT-02 scions on a Nikita’s Gift. Would you know if the JT-02 is self-pollinating?

Take a moment to meet and talk to people growing orchards in your specific area, this can save you an ungodly amount of frustration. There are areas of the country which such insect and/or disease pressures that it pretty much rules out you even thinking about certain fruits, while others would even grow wild.

And yes, you’ll end up spraying lots of chemicals. They may be organic chemicals such as neem oil and diatomaceous earth, but chemicals nonetheless. Heck nature can whip out some nasty concoctions so even in that regard don’t assume that ‘organic’ means harmless.


I got scions of JT02 from a fig friend. I grafted them myself onto D Virginiana seedling rootstock. We can’t root persimmon sticks as we do figs.

I’d be happy to give you some sticks from JT02, Kassandra, or IKKJ. Meantime you should buy some small bareroot DV trees, pot them, water them diligently, and grow them for a year or so before attempting a graft. Or you could graft to Nikita’s Gift once it is established.

None of these persimmons need a pollinator. Personally I’d rather have seedless fruit. Some people say that productivity is higher with pollination but if the trees set any more fruit I’d have to thin it. Some people say that the fruit tastes better with seeds, but except for the PV Asians I don’t believe it.


I appreciate that! One of the reasons why I selected Nikita’s Gift, besides being cold hardy and having good feedback about the quality of the fruit, is because the height of the tree is limited to 10-12 ft, which is on par with the rest of the dwarf trees I’m planning to plant. I need to be mindful about the fact that my wife wants the final project to also look good at maturity. :slight_smile:

I believe that many/most of the Asian and hybrid varieties are naturally somewhat dwarfing. My IKKJs, planted in 2015, are roughly 12’ high after some modest heading cuts. My Kassandra, planted in 2017, is also roughly 12’ high after very little pruning to control height. I think both categories could be managed to a modest size if headed at 4-8’ (modified central leader).

Your mulberries will be more of challenge. :slight_smile:

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I have grown fruit trees in my small yard for several years. Here’s my opinion on your choices.

Mulberries - make sure the varieties you choose are cold hardy for your zone. They grow big except for Girardi. My next door neighbor has a tree. 30 ft tall. Birds are the main recipients.

Persimmon NG is fine. I have it. If you have no male tree near by, it may drop fruit the first few years of fruiting. Does better in full sun.

Liberty apple - mixed review on taste. Some love it, others don’t. Disease resistant. Need pollinator but if there are crabapples in your neighborhood, you are all set.

Hosui pear - I have it. Need cross polllination. Can be achieved by grafting.

These apple and pear, you may be able to get by with no spray but you are likely to get pear blister mites. Sulfur spray should be ok.

Black Gold cherry I have it. Need to find one on dwarf rootstock like Gisela 5 or 6. Need spraying for cherry leaf spot and brown rot on fruit. Birds are the big enemy.

Red Haven and Sunglo nectarine. There is no such thing as “dwarf peach or nectarine if you are thinking about6-7 ft tall except for the genetic dwarf which is another story.

Both needs spray for peach leaf curl, brown rot and several pests. Often, you will be able to get by without spray for the first 3-4 years. After that, the troubles will arrive.

It is unrealistic to think you can grow cherry, peaches and nectarine without spray. I used to grow them organically. It was very challenging and did not worth my effort. Some organic spray can be use but Brown rot will force you to go synthetic spray.

Also, besides many insects that will attack your fruit when they are young, bigger animals will attack them after fruit are almost ready to pick. Squirrels, groundhogs, chipmunks, raccoons, opossums, birds. By the way, deer eat leaves and young shoots, too.

Like I said, this has been my actual experience. I am not pessimistic. I just learned it the hard way.


Let me add a couple notes –

  1. The mulberry varieties are hardy here. Yes they grow tall. And yes, birds get plenty. But there’s usually enough for the humans too. And having the mulberries can distract the birds from other fruits. Anyway, two mature mulberries will produce more fruit than a few people can handle, so I wouldn’t fret about birds.

  2. Taste is personal, but IMO Liberty is just fine. Most people probably pick it before it is fully ripe. It’s great resisting disease but I still needs to be sprayed for


My next door neighbor has a 30 ft tall mulberry full of mulberries. It does not stop birds to finish all cherries from my two cherry trees. They also pecked many young peaches and apples.

Maybe, I have birds with good taste?

Thank you for the valuable feedback! I saw these on the Starkbros website, RH currently out of stock.

I was also looking at the Dwarf Lapins Cherry. Would that be a better choice?

If you were in my shoes, which dwarf varieties of cherry, peach, nectarine and apple would you grow in zone 6b? Is there other fruit or varieties you would recommend?

One of the several reasons I’m set on dwarf varieties is so I would be able to place a net around them as they start setting fruit/ripen.

Your feedback about the need to spray peaches, nectarines, apples and cherries is very educational. Thank you.

We have a few people in MA not to far from you @SMC_zone6 , @Colleen7, @Courtney .

They probably can give you advice based on their experience, too. I am of an opinion that you will need to spray if you want to grow stone fruit.

If you want relatively no spray or low spray fruit trees, stick with mulberries, jujubes, persimmons and figs (potted figs have given me fits from fig bud mites, scales and fig rust so I am not wholeheartedly endorsing figs).


Netting will not prevent brown rot, canker, black knot diseases or plum curculio, Oriental Fruit moths, coddling moths, stink bugs, etc. We have them all in MA.

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LOL, well even birds have priorities. And yes, cherries trump mulberries.


Black knot is a serious problem. It forced me to give up all sweet cherries, all Asian plums, and almost all European plums. Wild black cherries are abundant here, and they provide an insuperable reservoir of disease.

Blossom rot is so bad in apricots that I’ve given up them too.

Oriental fruit moth exists but it must have a natural enemy. The less I fight it, the less it is a problem.

Plum curculio is a serious problem, but it is vulnerable to well-timed spraying. Also it seems to favor certain species / varieties. Sometimes one sacrificial tree can aid the others.

Coddling moth, yes.

All that said, I expend a ton of effort trying to select varieties that are resistant to the most common and destructive diseases. I won’t plant any pears or apples that are susceptible to fireblight or scab. My apples are all at least somewhat resistant to cedar apple rust – there’re probably 100 cedars within 100 yards.

As a result, I can get by with (1) a dormant oil spray, (2) copper sulphate for peach leaf curl and other early fungi, (3) a spray after petal drop for plum curculio, and (4) a spray later of apples only for coddling moth.

With attention to disease-resistant varieties, it is possible to raise the following without any spray at all other than the dormant oil: Asian and American persimmons, mulberries, figs, Asians pears, European pears, Chinese chestnuts, pawpaws. Peaches require only the one spray for peach leaf curl (yes, you will lose some of the crop but a standard tree will produce more than you can use). Apples can by with only 2 sprays for plum curculio and coddling moth. Also, russet skinned apples seem fairly uninteresting to insect pests.


How long have you had your trees?