What better way to increase your edible landscape than adding a fruit tree or two? Fall is an ideal time for tree planting in Kentucky. The cooler temps put less stress on tree crops and they have lower watering needs. Fruit trees are work well to add more diversity to your backyard, promote pollinators, and put more living roots in the soil, plus you get food! It’s a win all around.
Here are few tips when considering planting fruit trees this fall:
Choose fruit trees that are easy to grow in your region: If you want to raise fruit trees organically in Kentucky ideal options are: pawpaws (a KY native!), persimmons, disease-resistant apples and pears, and not technically a tree but most berries (see suggestions from Peaceful Heritage Nursery here). It’s good to also talk with an expert from your local nursery to learn more about different fruit tree varieties that are more disease and blight-resistant.
Plant trees in an optimal location: When scouting locations be mindful that any unharvested fruit will drop so avoid planting too close to a deck or driveway. All fruit trees will do better if they get a more consistent amount of sunlight. Plant fruit trees in full sun in early fall. This will give fruit trees time to establish before any danger of frost arrives. Pears at Hill and Hollow Farm in Edmonton, KY
Plant more than one (if needed): Certain fruit trees like apple trees are not self-pollinating and require cross-pollination. In this case, it's best to plant multiple trees in the same area for optimal fruit production. Do your research first and confirm pollination requirements before planting.
Plant fruit trees like other trees or shrubs: Make sure to allow for adequate spacing and air flow and mulch around the base. Mulch will ensure weeds are suppressed and the soil is less prone to drying out. Use 3-4 inches of mulch. Over mulching can promote can cause too much moisture to be trapped around the base of the trunk and promote aboveground root growth that negative impacts the tree.
Learn more at a local nursery in KY or with these resources:
Wilson Nurseries in Frankfort, KY
Fresh Start Growers’ Supply in Louisville, KY
Peaceful Heritage Nursery in Stanford, KY
Growing Fruit in the Home Garden in Central Ohio by Ohio State Extension Mike Hogan
The Holistic Orchard by Michael Phillips