Khloe

First, you are making a huge time and energy investment, this is not something to just spur of the moment buy and cram in your yard thinking you wont have to do much work with it and it will soon, on its own, start dropping fruit.

First, think about what the tree is going to look like in 3 to 6 to 12 years. Is it going to add value to your yard and house or detract? Trees do not always add! A peach tree with canker thats half dead and branched over your roof isnt going to help you sale your house. Fruit trees are more prone to pests, infections, rot, basically everything than most other trees, at least that I can think of.

They require alot more maintenance and care.

I bought some from Costco 1-2 months ago for $15ish each. They are the same size as the same variety I bought last year from a nursery for $25-$30. The $15 trees started flowering at the same time as the $30 ones. The only complaint I had about them was there wasn't enough variety. I didn't want apple or multiple variety trees, so there wasn't a lot left.

The general rule of thumb for fruit tree's is 3-5 years before a proper harvest and they don't self pollinate so make sure you get 2 trees or one that has 2 species grafted onto it, or you'll be counting on someone else in the neighbourhood having one for pollination.

Make sure they'll actually grow in your area and make sure you allow enough room in your yard for the full grown tree (so don't plant it too close to your eaves, for example), but other than that go for it! The plants themselves should be fine.

You may want/need to protect it for its first winter (check with local gardeners and/or your local agricultural extension), if it has a small truck I highly recommend using the foam tube stuff they use on air conditioners.

  1. Make sure you know what size tree its going to be. Almost every fruit tree is grafted onto a rootstock. The rootstock determines the SIZE of the tree. ALOT of trees sold at boxmarts do not say if this tree is going to be a standard size tree (~25 ft in diameter, 30 ft tall etc), semidwarf (~12-15 ft) or dwarf (~8ft). Those are HUGE differences. You do not want to buy a tree that is too big for your yard. You do not want to buy a dwarf tree imagining yourself pushing your kids in a few years on a tire swing under its huge canopy...not going to happen. You dont want to be buy a standard size tree imagining a small maintenance free affair that will comfortably sit in the corner of your yard where you can walk up and at shoulder height pick its fruit. Tree size is a HUGE ENORMOUS factor to consider. DO NOT BUY A TREE IF YOU DONT KNOW WHAT SIZE ITS GOING TO BE. Research what size you want and then buy a tree with the right rootstock that will make that size tree (also buy for your soil conditions more on that below)
  2. Most trees require a pollinator. Some are self fruitful (I think they still do better with a pollinator). A self fruitful tree can pollinate itself and make a pretty good crop. A non-self fruitful tree, one that requires a pollinator will make almost no fruit without a pollinator. Im talking like one fruit, if that. The pollinator tree needs to be within like 100 ft. Dont buy one kind of tree and expect to start a fruit stand. Also not all trees will be marked that they clearly need a pollinator. If you only have space in your yard for ONE true you want to make absolutely certain you get a self fruitful variety.
  3. Not all trees can grow in all soil conditions. Cherry trees, of any rootstock, cant stand to have their roots in standing water. If you dig a hole and fill it with water (because you have too much clay for example) and it doesnt drain out in any measurable time youre just pissing money away. If you have soil that is acidic or alkiline and you already know this, then whatever fruit tree you want may actually have a rootstock thats been developed just for your soil type. If youre going to plant a fruit tree then thats the rootstock you want it grafted on. If you have absolutely no idea a good nursery SHOULD know and can tell you, thats what they do. If they dont know then you dont have a good nursery; you just have a good middleman thats good at buying plants other people grew, marking the price up and selling them to suckers like you.
  4. Fruit trees require a certain number of chilling hours. Chill hours are the number of hours in the winter that it gets below freezing (some experts say 45 is close enough, I dont think it is). This means if you live in S Florida and plant a cherry tree it will never get enough chill hours to make squat. Peach trees can vary between 1200 and 200 chill hours. You can fudge these numbers a little bit but if youre too much off then every year that you didnt get enough chill hours will be a year you dont get peaches or whatever fruit. If youre too far off your tree wont go into dormancy and can actually be damaged. So this is a pretty big deal to pay attention to. Your local nursery or your state university will know to a fine science which varieties of whatever fruit will receive enough chill hours in your location to make fruit and go into and out of dormancy without problems.
  5. Pests. Fruit trees are more prone to them. You may live in an area that is particularly prone to certain pests, maybe a trunk borer. What will happen is you will plant your tree, it will do great for several years and right as you are about to have your first real crop, it will get sick and start to die. Some rootstocks inhibit pests. Some things you can do from the get go to prevent pests..such as not pruning your peach trees when its wet to inhibit fungal cankers (can wipe out your whole orchard). The point is youll want to know a little about what your trees are likely to encounter and how to prevent it BEFORE you have it in your yard. A sick tree lessens your yard's value, a healthy tree adds. With a fruit tree there is a very real risk of you putting all this time, money, and energy into a tree that without proper care could very well actually lower your property value.
  6. Pruning. You have to prune most kinds of fruit trees. Some of them you have to thin the fruits or they'll be so fruitful they will break their own branches. 90 degree branches are stronger than 45 but some fruit varieties dont exhibit that kind of growth pattern. Peaches need three or four major branches that you set typically in their second year. Plum trees have a more erect growth form that are pruned differently. I put this here because many fruit varieties need to be actively pruned fairly early on in order to minimize problems later.
  7. Even fertilizing can be tricky. If you fertilize too late in the season you can inhibit dormancy and again actually cause damage to your tree.

I really recommend against going out and buying a random fruit tree and planting it in your yard. Unlike other plants (this may seem obvious but its not always) trees get big and sooner or later they arent so easy to get rid of if they dont work out.

I feel this way about every nursery that offers trees, not just plants from stores like Costco. Generally speaking the quality is about the same, but you need to know what you are planting and why. This is th emost important aspect.

Khloe

I Have fruit trees of all different price classes. And I can say that they make a good investment however you cut it.

Most of us love fruit. What most people don't understand is fruit trees are some of the best frugal investments you can make. Allow me to crunch the numbers for you:

Let's say you live in a subtropical to tropical area and love avocados. At my local store, they're $2.00 each (Whole Foods organic avos are $3.00 each!). If you have a house with a tiny bit of land, why not plant an avocado tree? The numbers:

  • The tree should cost you $30.00 or less. We'll say $30.00.
  • Let's say you have terrible soil with nutrient deficiencies so you spend $20.00 on amendments to plant the tree. So you're at $50.00.
  • Each year you spend $10.00 on fertilizer/water.

Year one, you may get avocados but if you're smart, you pull them all off the tree early so it focuses on establishing itself.

You're in the hole $50.00.

Year two, you get 5 avocados (you should get more but let's be conservative). You spend $10.00 on fertilizer/water. You're still in the hole $50.00 but you had 5 delicious avocados you were very proud of.

Year three you get 15 avocados (you should get more). You spend $10.00 on fertilizer/water so you're still $30.00 in the hole.

Year four you get 20 avocados (you should get WAY more).

You spend $10.00 on fertilizer/water so you're now even. You've fully realized your investment.

  1. Tell me an investment that has a 100% ROI after 4 years.
  2. A 5 year old avocado should have well over 100 avocados. Mature avocado trees can have 2,3,400 avocados.
  3. The avocado tree doesn't care if the price of avocados goes up to $3.00, $4.00, etc, it is inflation proof (except the cost of fertilizer/water).

This is true for most fruit trees. Find fruit trees that grow well in your area and are fruit you enjoy eating and enjoy your fantastic investment. Frugal minded folk should have a yard full of them.

I think one could take this a step further and commit themselves to homesteading and self-sufficiency in general.

For me, that's the eventual goal I'd like to reach. Not just fruit trees, but a full vegetable garden and hopefully some livestock to produce milk and eggs. Remember, you don't have to consume all of it either, you now have a product you could use to sell or barter if you wanted to.

Khloe

You'd have to check freeze times for a lot of my suggestions, because I'm zone 5. But our tastes seem pretty similar.

Have quite the apple collection. Conveniently, there's a guy who has an heirloom orchard and grafted them for me. He also sold and had apple tastings, so an ideal setup for me. I loved Ashmeads kernel when I tasted it. Holiday is not an old variety, but I got one anyway.

My favorite is the Sweet 16, which can have a slight anise flavor some years. I think Fireside may be my second pick. I also was impressed by Golden Noble. I have some St Edmunds Russet, partly for place name connections. I also have Clay Pot, but that may be a local variety.

A really interesting one is Champlain, it is almost effervescent when you bite in.

I've not had any off my tree yet, but I quite like the Flemish beauty pears I've gotten at farmers markets.

If it's not for this spring, I may spend a year searching farmers markets for varieties you like that will grow in your area.

Khloe

100% Tree farms are not a year one (maybe not even year two) option realistically. Having said this, a greenhouse full of fruit and only a dozen kegs isn't something to discourage you.

Once you are established, with a high value crop and greenhouse, you could get your orchard running very quickly.

This is the sad reality.

You can actually do whatever you want, but it all comes to this: Is it better to get into the game early?

No?

Then plant Blueberries instead. Though to be fair you can plant anything and get huge profit with it, unlike fishing and other else.

I mean I get that you are suppose to be a farmer, but I mean, I can't make wine from my fruit trees, because it needs farming? You are loosing on the animals? Turn those things to Artisan goods.

Farming in general is way too overloaded, which wouldnt be a problem, but I mean look at Foraging. You gain absolutely no useful building at the later stages ( or at all really) or even recipes. Fishing is like whatever, very good very early, but it cant keep up forever and takes all day.

I actually tried a PT where the only seeds I planted was from the bundles and a few seeds that I needed vegetables from for the bundles.

Fishing brought very nice money since I focused on it. But spending my cash on fruit trees and animals? It took extreme amount of time to gain my first gold of profit from them.

Farm animals & trees last indefinitely & produce daily.

Those alongside foraging, fishing, etc, aren't worthwhile because the farm makes so much more profit on it's own. Personally I think the farm is too profitable, I would have enjoyed the game for a longer time if it took a little more time to progress or profited from a little more thought & planning.

Khloe

My preference is for the Honeycrisp and Fuji, but try growing whichever type of apple you think you'll eat the most. I think the Fuji tree may get really big, but you can buy Honeycrisp in dwarf size.

If you want no/low maintenance fruit of any kind, also plant some raspberries behind your trees or up against some hedges.

They will grow like a weed and produce an abundance of fruit. Every summer I collect tons of wild berries near where I live and it seems like the birds/deer barely touch them. If you live upstate you could also plant wild blueberry bushes which won't require too much upkeep.

Dwarf apples and multi-grafted apples are not suited to northern climates, and besides apples usually need a lot of pruning and spraying.

They also take a long time to produce. If you do decide on apples, however, check out the info at St. Lawrence Nurseries.

Blackberries, raspberries, blueberries and mulberries take less time to produce, require little maintenance and have few pests, other than birds.

If you want to wait six years or more, the hardy kiwi vine is pest resistant and produces delicious and valuable fruit - but you will need to protect them against late frosts, if you have them. Kiwis can be made to create a nice looking hedge too. You can find quality kiwis and other pest resistant fruits at One Green World nursery.

Check on your local university extension's website for the best fruit trees for your area. Here in I've grown peaches and apples, apples are definitely the easier of the two but it's still not easy or low maintenance. Maybe quince or persimmon would be a good option for you?

Although they are more expensive, you can find fruit trees that have several varieties grafted to the same tree - apples and pears tend to be the easiest to find like this (at least in my area). Great way to get variety with a limited number of trees. Good luck!