For a truly special touch to your garden, consider planting a fruit tree. If the idea of a full-size fruit tree seems daunting, dwarf and super dwarf fruit trees might be a good fit for your garden. Check out the following tips to get started.
- Dwarf fruit trees stay small enough for you to pick the fruit from the ground. This is a safe, easy way to harvest. You won't have to lug around ladders or balance on them while working. Another advantage of dwarf fruit trees is they begin to bear fruit much younger than full-sized trees do. And if your lawn is small, a dwarf tree, which takes up less space than its full-size counterpart, is a good alternative.
- Try growing a super-dwarf peach tree in a pot. Super-dwarfs are extra-miniature trees that may reach only about 5 feet tall. Although other fruit trees come as super-dwarfs, peaches produce flavorful fruit with only one tree and are great for beginners. (Many other fruit trees require a second cultivar for pollination.)
- Plant your super-dwarf peach in a 24-inch-wide tub with drainage holes in the bottom. Keep it moist, well fertilized, and in a sunny location during the growing season. If your tree doesn't bear fruit the first year, give it time. It may need another year or two to start its career. During winter in cold climates, store the tree, tub and all, in a cool but protected location.
- Use sticky red balls for control of apple maggots on apple and plum trees or blueberry bushes. Apple maggots are fly larvae that tunnel into developing fruit, making it disgusting and inedible. Apple maggot flies are easily tricked, however. If you put out sticky red balls (homemade or purchased through a garden supply catalog), the egg-laying females will be attracted to the ball and get stuck. (This will end their egg-laying career!) Hang at least one sticky red ball in a dwarf tree and six or more in larger trees.
- Use tree bands to catch crawling pests climbing up fruit tree trunks. Sticky plastic bands will catch and hold ants carrying aphids and creeping caterpillars such as gypsy moths and codling moths.