The Guardian: Fruit not veg is the way to go for rich rewards

It never ceases to amaze me how the cultural norms of gardening are often quite different from the measurable reality of its outcomes. Convinced by the weight of tradition, we do all sorts of things that are unlikely to give us the results we want, simply because they have always been done that way. Breaking out of these cultural assumptions could not only make you a better gardener, but open up all sorts of new experiences. Probably the best example is with growing fruit.

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Kind of preaching to the choir by posting this here, but after a few years of doing both I really have to agree. The ROI on growing veggies is not as good as growing fruit.

But maybe I’m just bitter that the voles ate my beets, or that my spinach bolted too quickly, or that my squash got wrecked by borers.

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what i like about growing fruit is you plant only once. fruit is far more expensive than veggies. if i want organic veggies i go to the farmers market in summer. fruits at the farmers market here is very rare and quality is very inconsistant.

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I am getting rid of all my fruit trees as they age because it is easier and much more productive growing vegetables instead. 1 bad year and you have to replace a 10 year investment in your fruit trees and waaaaaaait. Veggies! plant a fall crop and go.

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Fruit trees have already gotten super expensive. With articles like this I guess they are likely to get even more expensive because of even more shortages. I also don’t think most of these new gardeners will understand all the terms associated with fruit growing. Veggies you plant them in the ground and you have fruit in months. With fruit trees you wait 1-5+ years and then get fruit. Pears are 5+ and longed lived but peaches are 1 year but short lived. Also I predict many people reading this article buying 1 fruit tree and wondering what happened. There are some fruit trees like peaches that grow by themselves but most require 2+ varieties. I can’t tell you how many youtube videos I have seen where they have 2 fruits on the tree and complain about it. The first thing people ask in the comment section is do you have two different kinds of trees. They then go on about how bees should be able to carry pollen for miles from someone else’s tree. With fruit it tastes better and it is high rewards but it also has lots of lows.

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our disease pressure is low here and its rare you lose a tree. i only have 5 trees, the rest are cane fruit and bushes that most give fruit the 1st or 2nd year some 3-4 years and are no spray. my freezers full of many types of raspberries, strawberries, blueberries ,currants. in the near future there will be mulberries, autumn olive, goumi, honey berries , sour cherries, many kinds of apples, pears, plums, serviceberries and grapes. if you plant a diversity of fruits its not so bad waiting for the apples and other tree crops to produce. if you lose one here and there. the other types of fruits make up for it. my father always had a huge garden but also had many types of fruit bushes/ trees as well. if you find fruit trees expensive learn to grow and graft your own. i just dug a apple seedling i found growing under the mother tree and its planted in my yard. ill graft it over to a williams pride next spring. the tree and the scion cost me nothing but my time as i have a w.p growing on another tree to take from…

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Yeah I myself think the article got it completely backwards in many aspects. Fruit can be much harder than vegetables. And we do have perennial veggies too. In the article they mention potatoes. I got 150 pounds from 6 fabric containers this year. I fertilized once, and watered when needed. Virtually no work. I have never had blight. But a plum tree one can wait three years then have the fruit destroyed by PC. It’s not anywhere as easy as the article makes it sound. Sure some fruits are easy as are just as many vegetables. Is garlic hard to grow? Plus the potatoes and garlic I grow beats store bought hands down. As does my fruit. I’m all for people trying fruit, but not by deception. This article is setting people up for a huge fail. The work growing fruit is difficult in most locations. Berry bushes are easier, but the article doesn’t really go into that. Also to get trees that produce edible crops year after year is far from easy. Half the trees I planted in the last eight years are dead. Nature killed them not me. Floods, canker, high winds took one of my trees out of the ground, yes it died. I tried to save it but most of the root structure was ripped off the tree.

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Another publication from a person with little real knowledge about the subject.

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Yeah they don’t mention I can get a asparagus crown for 1 dollar each if I get a set of 25 from the right place. Asparagus will grow for 50 years. I also saw the article state that after buying 5 years worth of veggies you can buy a fruit tree. That is proven false by a simple google search. 1 bare root tree costs 28-70 dollars online and will cost over 100 with our local nurseries. Shipping costs between 10-35 dollars to me each order with online nurseries. This means I am either spending over 100 at a local nursery or am spending at least 60 for a tree. Like I said above chances are you are getting at least 2 trees. A pack of seeds costs me 2-5 dollars and the 5 dollar ones are the premium rare ones like a hot pepper from Peru. The math goes 60 divided by 5 equals 12 dollars a year to get to the amount of 1 tree in 5 years. 24 dollars a year if you get two trees. Peach trees will produce after 3 years and the nurseries that sell Dave Wilson trees will sell 2 year trees so those you will get next year. Most peach trees are also super cheap at 28 dollars/ You lose a year and they are short lived but that is not that bad because they are cheap and grow fast. For something like a pear tree that will take around 4-10 years to produce and it costs a lot for a good variety many will become disappointed. I mean look at many on this forum with the Warren pear trees. Each time it gets mentioned people always mention how they are thinking of ripping it out because they have had it for years and it never produced a fruit.

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Hmmm. The comparative economics is interesting.

I’d say that if you go for the tried and true varieties in your area then in a yield basis a fruit tree is hard to beat. A Marsh seedless grapefruit in Phoenix will bear probably 200 pounds of fruit over three months with few cares or pests. Every single year.

Not many people do that. They go for lower yielding “gourmet” varieties in one way or another both in trees and vegetables.

Not many people try to be efficient with their inputs of ferts and ‘cides, either.

The cost of vegetable plants is minimal if you start your own seeds. Much more if you buy the starts. Most people compensate by having smaller gardens.

What are the economics of a garden not grown?

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I’ll give the writer some leeway and mention that he is apparently in the UK. Gooseberries, currants, and the other stiff he mentions is probably easier to grow over there.

I will say if you find something suited to your climate, then the fruit is easy. But it costs a lot of money, time and patience to find that perfectly suited tree. Plus what is easy this year will become hard in 5-10 years as new pests come in.

I can grow figs, blueberries, jujubes, persimmons fairly easy in my area. But that’s not the fruit that newbies think of…

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I think his difficulty meter is off a bit. He made a big deal about how much work potatoes are and they are close to the easiest thing I grow, at least in this climate. In fact, I have one bed of potatoes which got away from me and has naturalized. All I’ve done for the last 4+ years is weed it a couple times a year (this variety grows tall and competes pretty well) and dig up the potatoes around the frost. I evidently miss enough of them that they are growing back on their own. Not only do they cover the whole area, but they’ve started spreading and now cover 2-3X as much space as originally planted (3’x10’ garden bed which is now probably 8’ wide).

On the other hand, the author thinks that you’ll get apples without doing anything, listing pruning, thinning, and fertilizing. And yes, you could get it without those 3 (thinning is the most important of them if you want large/tasty fruit), but probably not without spraying, at least insecticide. Without spraying 95-99%+ of the fruit would have worms, usually dropping very early (especially after a few years of not spraying). Maybe it is different out West or in dryer climates.

Sounds like you don’t need to get rid of them- they do it on their own :slight_smile:

Actually, I planted too close together (for what pruning I’m willing to do at least), so I’ve been relying on the same thing to thin trees out. There are some natural casualties, sometimes too much black knot, and sometimes the fruit isn’t that good. Though I have the most trouble getting rid of that last category.

And anywhere I get enough space, jujubes are the tree. No spray at all, so it is up there with mulberry and persimmons in terms of effort (weeding and occasional pruning).

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Yes, I love perennials. Fruit are rewarding, but I also always have Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano, Winter Savory, Sage and Bay Laurel. Plus mint and rhubarb seasonally.

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i also have those as well as perennal onions and garlic under planted around my fruit plantings. the herbs/onions are starting to spread. hoping that these plants will also work as a natural pesticide over time keeping my trees naturally bug free. also have lemon balm, creeping thyme , chives and some ornanental allums as well.

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Rosemary. Now that’s a high-value low input crop.

It grows as a hedge in Phoenix. I remember trimming it one warm summer morning, wiping my brow turning around and realizing that I had about $1,500 dollars worth lying on my lawn.

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Have you seen a mature Bay Laurel?

https://www.safeway.com/shop/product-details.960011834.html?cmpid=ps_swy_por_ecom_goo_20210831_71700000086489851_58700007371561187_92700066024788946_MerkleENT&gclid=Cj0KCQjwqp-LBhDQARIsAO0a6aL326IywW9lwChRJP94kBrxEloFKEi3fJbTjRoqUZ63kORul5YUsWIaApyREALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds
$639 per pound!

Buying perennial herbs from retail grocer is painful.

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Some herbs are worth growing even if they are a hassle just because they are so expensive. Even some of the cheaper ones are easy to grow like thyme, very low maintenance for me since I planted it. I’ll have to try a few more you mentioned. Mint is a monster best relegated to a pot lol

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I’m on 2.5 acres clearing in the hilly woods. We have naturalized Himalayan blackberries, tansy ragwort, thistle and others. I’m not afraid of mint, oregano and their relatives. Let them spread.

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