As a follow up to my post a few weeks ago on the most nutritious vegetables to grow at home, this week we’ll explore what fruit you can grow in your home garden.
The book, Eating on the Wild Side does a great job of examining different fruits and vegetables in terms of how to select or grow varieties for optimum nutrition.
For those of us in New England, growing vegetables is a bit easier than most fruit. It’s too cold here to grow citrus or tropical fruit, but we can easily grow berries, apples, pears, stone fruit, melon and grapes. Berries, though, are really some of the most nutritious and easiest fruit to grow at home.
A nutritional power house and a gorgeous deciduous shrub. Blueberries are a great addition to any landscape. You typically want to plant at least two different varieties of blueberry for the best pollination and fruit production. Grow in Zones 3-7 in full sun to shade.
Highbush Blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum) grow between 3 and 6′ tall. They have beautiful white flowers in the spring followed by blue (of course) fruit. One of the best features of these shrubs, though, is their gorgeous fall foliage. They are native plants and pest resistant. The only real worry are birds poaching your berries before you get to them (use a netting of cheese cloth to protect ripening fruit).
Lowbush Blueberries (Vaccinium angustifolium) are low growing ground covers. I have distinct memories of picking these kinds of blueberries as a kid in Nova Scotia. Also a native shrub with the same gorgeous flowers and berries, the difference here is the low growing habit. This plant is great for hillsides, rocky outcrops or anywhere you want a naturalized ground cover.
Blackberries and Raspberries
Also incredibly nutritious, blackberries and raspberries are a great option for the home garden because they are so perishable. The only issue is that the canes can become a bit unruly. You need a bit of space for this fruit, but the rewards are great. Grow in Zones 4-8 in full sun.
A low growing fruit, these can really function like a ground cover. Strawberries are a great addition to the home garden, in a dedicated patch or meandering around ornamental plants. I like to use strawberries as a low edging, along pathways, so you can stop to pick some fruit as you meander. The best part of growing strawberries at home is you can pick them when they are fully ripe (they do not ripen further after picked, which is why so many supermarket strawberries lack flavor). Try one of the Everbearing varieties for long season production. Grow in Zones 4-10 in full sun to part shade.
An infrequently thought of fruit for the New England home garden, grapes are actually full of nutrients and beautiful to grow. Consider planting this deciduous woody vine where it can twine up a trellis or arbor. Interestingly, Concord grapes are really nutritious, as are other dark skinned varieties like Autumn Royal. Grow in Zones 5-8 in full sun.
So what about apples, pears, peaches, and cherries? Yes, these can all be grown in the home garden here in New England, but they need a bit more maintenance and space to grow. If you have lots of room and are able to maintain an orchard through proper pruning and care, these are wonderful trees to grow yourself. If you have more limited space, though, the options above are a great place options for growing fruit at home. You can even grow blueberries and strawberries in a container on your patio!