I think most of the citrus trees don't reliably begin producing until their 3rd or 4th year. Dwarf bananas can take like 4 or 5. I've read that if you get fruit in the first season that you should clip it off so that you don't stress the young plant.
I am hesitant to drop forty to seventy bucks on a plant if I don't think I could keep it alive! Where have people gotten their trees? What are some reliable retailers? How much light do they require? I live in Philadelphia, so they'd probably only get to be outside from May through late September... would that be enough?
Here is a conversation about growing trees in containers. Filled to the brim with great information.
They want full sun. It's totally doable. This probably isn't a beginning gardener thing, but fine for anyone with some experience under their belt.
We're growing an Improved Meyer Lemon and a Key Lime. They are in large containers with high water and air holding capacity mix - they want good drainage. The Key Lime has really spiky thorns. They are heavy feeders, so they definitely enjoy frequent/high fertilization. The Improved Meyer Lemon's flowers have a wonderful scent. It does take a couple of years to get production started. We haven't had tons of fruit or anything, but our trees haven't put into optimal conditions until quite recently, and now we're looking to have quite the bumper key lime crop (for a still young/small tree). The Meyer Lemons we've had are delicious, very unusual flavor.
We found ours at nurseries out in the middle of nowhere - you'll get a MUCH better price that way. Hope this helps.
Lowe's and Home Depot always have a limited variety of relatively cheap fruit trees, including apples, cherries, peaches, pears, and plums.
There are a few garden centers just north of the city, that will have some stuff Lowe's and Home Depot won't have--less common varieties of standard fruits, plus some unusual stuff like figs, cornelian cherries, sour cherries, etc. Best Feeds, Brenckle's, and Hahn's are all fairly close to one another. Hahn's and Best Feeds should have a better selection of fruit trees than Brenckle's, but Brenckle's has a much better selection of vegetables and flowers. If you go farther out, there are some farm/garden centers that will have bigger selections of everything, including fruit trees, plus they'll have baked goods, fresh fruits and vegetables, and PA wine.
Check out Trax Farms in the South Hills and Soergel's Orchards in Wexford.
As far as what to grow, I go for what what you can't typically get at all or can't get for cheap at grocery stores: cherries that aren't Bing or Ranier (but look for varieties that are crack resistant--morello cherries are tart, but they grow well here), figs, and specialty varieties of plums and peaches.
Pawpaws grow well here with basically no effort. I don't think apples are worth growing unless you're growing them for cider. They require more care than they're worth and they're cheap and available year-round at the grocery store.
Pawpaws have a sweet (some say cloying), miscellaneous, tropical fruit taste.
The ones I've had taste like a mixture of banana, mango, and other flavors. The most striking thing is the texture, which is custardy when the fruit is ripe. Worth trying, but many or most people aren't impressed. I like them, but part of that is because I think they're cool.
There's an annual pawpaw festival in Athens County, Ohio near OU. I haven't gone in years, but it's a lot of fun. Vendors serve a bunch of different things made with pawpaws as an ingredient--salsas, barbecue, pastries, beer, etc.
The times I went, there was a fun, laid back atmosphere with lots of hippies, campfire music, chill dogs wearing bandanas, and like tons of shit made from or somehow inspired by pawpaws.
My parents generally order from Stark Brothers nursery. They have never had a problem with them (shipping, quality, selection, etc.). Keep in mind that it will often be a few years before you get any (significant) fruit from the trees. They'll also take a bit longer to get established, but depending on your budget or desire for natives/variety it may be worth it. You can order online or drive out to them in person in Indiana, PA.
Having an orchard is my farmstyle of choice. Orchards aren't as profitable as other ventures right now, but if you have a greenhouse you can at least shove some trees in there instead (10 barely fit lining it). they're just a nice buffer for when you're waiting for other stuff to grow, and that way they produce daily year-round and are safe from storms afaik.
hey also don't need to be harvested daily, so you can wait 2-3 days and go get 2 fruit off each tree; it adds up if you're doing other work too, and the trees require basically no maintenance.
Dead tree bug
This is a major issue. If a fruit tree gets destroyed in a storm, it's reverted to a stump. Removing the stump causes the tile to become "dead", acting like there's still a tree planted there. You cannot replant the tree or interact with the tile at all.
After picking close to a thousand of each type of fruit, I've yet to get anything other than normal quality fruit from my trees, yet I find gold star quality fruit in my bat cave.
Prices for fruit seem undertuned. This might be more of an issue given the problem with fruit quality, but I thought I'd throw some numbers out here anyway.
Trees produce 1 fruit per day for a total of 28 fruits a year (each tree type is only active for 1 season.) Currently, you WILL NOT turn a profit your first year of fruit growing if you simply sell the fruit from your trees. Apricot saplings cost 2000g and the fruit sells for 50g, netting you -600g. Peach saplings go for 6000g, fruit sells for 140g, resulting in -2080g. This is pretty disheatening, considering fruit trees are one of the largest investments crop-wise, between the growth time, permanent space occupancy, and plain initial price of the saplings. "But you only have to buy the saplings once," you say. True, you don't have to replant your trees unless they get destroyed by storms (except with the current dead tile bug, you can't even do that.) However, they are a permanent fixture on your farm all year round, taking up valuable space which would otherwise be used for seasonal crops. It feels like there should be some compensation for that loss in space.
For those wondering about jam prices (I've spent too much time on this already to find out wine prices too): Apricot Jam 150g, Apple 250g, Orange 250g, Pomegranate 330g, Peach 330g, Cherry 210g. Turning all your fruits into jam will get you a small profit...or you could just plant cranberries and get multiple 310g-jams from one 240g plant. Just sayin'.
It feels like trees were balanced for a world without sprinklers or artisan goods.
Their innate strength is that they don't need to be watered, fertilized, or cared for in any way. Just harvest every few days, toss them in the bin, and done. You make your money back that first year and then do well the next.
By the time you can really start planting a lot of fruit trees you have already overcame the weakness of crops. I put my watering can in the chest halfway through my first summer and was already relying entirely on sprinklers.
Crops were now as easy to maintain as trees.
Sadly I think the only way to make fruit trees more attractive is to raise the base price of the fruit. Maybe let it get stars too. Their innate advantages just aren't worth much. I would consider planting something that I could just throw straight in the bin for a decent chunk of change.
Would take some of the pressure off my artisan production.