There’s nothing quite like the experience of going out into your own backyard and picking fresh fruit right off the tree. But fruit trees can be discouraging to many gardeners who like to see a quick turnaround in yield. Many fruit trees can take years to start bearing fruit, and represent a significant time and space investment in any garden. Some citrus trees can take between six and ten years before you see the first piece of fruit!
For those of us that like to see a quicker turnaround from our gardens but still don’t want to give up the idea of fresh fruit, there are several types of fruit trees that will bear fruit fairly quickly. Figs, mulberries, peaches and even limes can all give you a successful fruit harvest within the first year they are planted when well cared for.
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The key to getting a quick first harvest from many fruit trees is to purchase grafted stock. Grafting is a technique where a budding stem of one tree is inserted into the rootstock (roots and some portion of the trunk) of another tree. The budding stem then becomes the top part of the tree (called the scion) and the rootstock becomes the lower portion of the tree.
This technique is frequently used with varieties of trees that are difficult to propagate from seed. The result is a hardier plant that will start bearing fruit one to two years earlier than its brethren grown from seed.
If you’re interested in growing your own fruit, here are 7 trees that will be fruit in just a few years.
If you live in a Mediterranean climate, fig trees will give you fruit in one to two years after planting. Notoriously easy to grow, fig trees can also be grown in pots if you live in a climate with colder winters. Left to their own devices, fig trees can grow up to 30 feet tall within about five years, but several gardeners attest to seeing trees as little as one foot tall bearing fruit. Due to their popularity, there are many types of fig varieties available, so be sure to choose one that is especially adapted for your climate zone.
Mulberries are also an extremely popular choice for those that want fruit in a timely manner. Mulberry trees will produce within one year if you are using a grafted tree, and they can grow up to 2.5 feet each year! In case you can’t eat all that a mulberry tree can produce, birds like chickens, ducks, and turkeys love to eat mulberries.
3 & 4. Peaches & Nectarines
If you live in a warm enough climate, grafted peach or nectarine trees can produce fruit in under three years when well taken care of. They need well-drained soil, so make sure you put them in an area where soggy roots won’t be an issue. Neither peach nor nectarine trees are self-pollinating, which means you will need two trees in order to produce fruit. Get two different varieties of trees that bloom at the same time so there will be cross-pollination.
Citrus trees may seem like a pipe dream to many of us that don’t live in a tropical climate, but there are many varieties of citrus trees that do extremely well indoors and in pots. This opens up quite a few possibilities for those of us that have greenhouses and other indoor growing spaces. Do a little bit of research to find the varieties best suited to your needs, but limes, lemons, and oranges can produce fruit the year after they are planted. They are also self-pollinating, meaning you only need one tree in order to produce fruit.
6. Black Cherries
Although a little tarter than their cousin the sweet cherry, black cherry trees only take 2-3 years to produce after being planted. Sweet cherry trees can take 5-7 years to fully mature and produce fruit.
Since they are on the tarter side, black cherries are great to use in jams and liquors. They also grow fairly quickly, reaching up to 20 feet in just a few years.
If you live anywhere in hardiness zones 6-9, apricots may be a great choice for your fast fruiting garden. They typically produce fruit after about three years and can produce fruit for 20 to 25 years after that. Although it may not bear fruit, the tree itself can live as an ornamental for up to 150 years. Most varieties of apricots are self-fruitful, so you only need one tree to produce fruit successfully. Once a mature tree blooms, it is typically between 100 and 120 days for the fruit to be harvestable.
The key to quickly producing fruit trees is to make sure the tree is well cared for. Plant it in the correct soil, with the correct sunlight, and choose varieties that will do well in your climate zone. That, and using well-grafted rootstock will have you eating fresh fruit from your own garden in no time!
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