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Fruit Trees for Every Household

By Charles Hopkins Published 04/25/2006 | Gardening
Fruit trees can be divided broadly into two categories; citrus and deciduous. Once, every household grew several fruit trees, but now suburban blocks are much smaller and so space is limited. Citrus trees dont take up much room and are fairly hardy. They will grow in a variety of soils, but dont like wet feet, so if you have clay soil you might have to build it up to encourage the moisture to drain away.

Lemons, oranges, grapefruit, mandarin and kumquats all make delicious marmalades and are packed full of vitamins when eaten fresh. They last on the tree for ages too, so there is no problem with storage. Kumquats can be grown in a large container and though the fruit is too bitter to eat fresh, makes great marmalade.

The main pests to attack citrus are aphids and shield beetles. If you notice a black coating like soot growing on the leaves of your citrus, it is sure to be caused by aphids. They exude a sticky substance that is favorable to the growth of sooty mold. Spray the tree with white oil and the problem should clear up.

Shield beetles can be identified by their pungent odor. They are large beetles and can be green, brown or red with black markings, depending on the stage of their life cycle. They will eat all the young leaves, severely retarding the growth and fruiting of the tree, so spray as soon as you notice them. Be careful not to get too close, as they tend to squirt an acid stream that can cause painful injury, when disturbed. Rogor or Lebaycid are two systemic sprays for these pests.

Deciduous fruit trees are the apple, pear, and stone fruits. Because they are dormant in the winter, they can be grown in areas of severe frosts, though a late frost could damage the blossom. All have glorious blossom and the leaves of many turn yellow, orange or scarlet in the fall. With the addition of fresh fruit, what more could you want in a tree?

The fruit will encourage birds to your garden too, and you might have to share the fruit with them. Otherwise, light netting is available by the roll. Four iron stakes joined over the top with poly-pipe makes a good support for the netting.

Fruit flies are the main pest to attack stone fruits like peaches, plums, apricots and nectarines. There are different ways of controlling this pest, the two main ones being to spray the fruit regularly with Rogor or Lebaycid, or hang fruit fly baits in the tree. These attract and kill the male fly, so there are no grubs to burrow into the fruit and spoil it.

Apples and pears are attacked by the codling moth, which lays its eggs just under the skin of the immature fruit. When the grubs hatch they eat their way through the fruit leaving a brown tunnel. Carbaryl, Malathion or Lebaycid are the sprays to use for codling moth.

If you would love a fruit tree, but are short on space, dwarf apples are available in some areas. They only have one or two short stems, but are covered in normal size fruit.