Worms are an amazing addition to a self-sufficient homestead as they turn scraps into nutrient-rich organic fertilizer to help you grow more food. Creating a sustainable lifestyle is all about taking small steps and changes to close the loop and nurture thriving ecosystems. You don’t have to do it all at once and I highly recommend starting small, mastering a manageable garden, and then start adding layers one by one. If you overwhelm yourself and don’t have habits and systems in place it won’t be sustainable long term and you can end up with unproductive chaos.
Click to watcha warm farm tour
Tips for setting up a backyard worm farm
1. Source a Worm Farm or Home for your Worms
There are many options for backyard worm systems from kit-set to DIY. You will also more than likely be able to pick up a second-hand worm farm so keep an eye out on your local listings and marketplace. Be mindful of your local climate and do a little research. In Perth, Australia, we have extremely hot summers that reach over 40 degrees. Cool shady locations are a must for worms. If you do live in a hot climate there are some great DIY options using old fridges and freezers to offer more protection. This is something I will be creating very soon!
2. Choose a Location
Choose a location for your worms that is out of direct sunlight and is well protected. On the flip side if you get snow or cold temperatures you would need to make sure you can bring your worm farm somewhere warmer.
The other important consideration to make is to keep it close and convenient. Worms like to be fed a little and often so you don’t want them down the back of your property where they may get forgotten about. Permaculture zone 1-2 would be great or have them located on a path that you frequent regularly. For example: on the way to the chicken coop or the washing line. Having things in convenient locations is the absolute key to being consistent and having systems in place that easily become habits means you don’t even have to think about it just becomes part of everyday life.
3. Source Composting Worms
There are many times of worms in your garden and they all play different roles so it’s important to get the right worms for your worm farm to make sure they are happy and thriving. Tiger worms are a popular type of worm for this system and can be purchased at many plant nurseries or hardware stores that sell worm farms. You may also be able to get set up with worms from friends that have their own form farms established.
4. What to Feed your worms
Feed your worms little and often! Be consistent.
What to feed: Coffee grinds, tea leaves, vegetable scraps, egg shells, banana peels, shredded paper or cardboard, dried leaves, greens, vacuum dust, and hair. The more variety the better as this will help keep a balanced pH. Add a little sprinkle of soil when you feed as the grit can help the worms break down the scraps. Keep the food scraps in smaller pieces if possible.
What to avoid feeding your Worms?
Avoid citrus, garlic, or the onion family as this will create an acidic environment that will harm the worms. No meat – as this can create bad bacteria and attract rats and other unwanted pests.
5. Water your Worms
Worms like a moist environment of around 70% moisture, so it’s important to give your worms a regular drink. Keep a damp sheet of cardboard, hessian sack, or newspaper on top of the food scraps to retain moisture and regulate temperatures. This also acts as a slow-releasing food source.
6. How to care for Worms when you go on Holiday
If you are going away for a few weeks your worms should be fine if you get them prepared. Flush water from the top tray, add plenty of food and some slow-release food such as pea straw, hay, and place some layers of wet newspaper or cardboard on top. This will help keep the worms nice and moist. If you are worried or going away for longer ask someone to stop by and feed your worms.
How to harvest the Worm Tea and Worm Castings?
The by-products of worms are both castings and worm tea. Castings are the worm poo which is your food scraps converted into soil. Add scoops of worm castings to your garden beds to feed and enrich the soil. Warm castings are quite concentrated so it’s best to mix this through with other soil first.
Once the worm bin starts to fill up with worm castings and the worms start trying to get out it may be time to change the bins over. Depending on the size of your worm farm and the population of worms this can be done 2-4 times a year. The active worm bin should be in the top layer so it is time to move this down and place an empty bin on top. Lift out as much of the uneaten food as possible and add it to the empty tub. Put in some fresh food and bedding and pour water over the top to moisten it all down. The worms will start to come up to the top layer to access the food and leave the bin of castings behind.
This may take a while for the worms to move up depending on how much uneaten food is left behind and how dense the population of worms is.
If you don’t have multiple layers in your worm farm another way to harvest the castings is to tip it all out onto some cardboard. The worms don’t like sunlight so they will move to the bottom of the pile and you can harvest off the top layer before putting the worms back in.
Worm tea can be watered down 10:1, especially on young seedlings but we also use a much more concentrated version of 50:50 on fruit trees. Just be careful when using it around young plants as they will be more sensitive, that’s when I would water it down more. Like with everything in the garden, when you are unsure or just starting out do sections and test it out first.
Use the worm tea within a month or two as you want to ensure the living organisms stay alive as that is the key to healthy soil!
If you have extra worm concentrate, bottle it up for gifts or this could be a great little side hustle for kids to sell.
10 Sustainable Gardening hacks to ensure your garden is quickand easy to maintain for sustainable long-term growth. Do you want to grow an edible garden and harvest delicious organic food straight from your own backyard but… you don’t have enough time in the day? Whether you are a busy parent or your spare time is already devoted to hobbies, sports, growing your business, or other priorities and you want to ensure your garden is easy to maintain for sustainable long-term growth, then these Sustainable Gardening Hacks are perfect for you!
Lazy gardening is actually an amazing thing! It means you are working smarter, not harder, and have systems in place to work with nature to get abundant harvests.
So let’s not waste any time and get straight into it…
1. Plant Perennials
Perennial plants are ones that you plant once and they will continue to give you harvests for many years to come. They are the ultimate hack for sustainable gardening! So this is probably my number one tip for lazy or time-poor gardeners.
Perennials are plants such as Fruit Trees, Berries, Bananas, Sweet Potatoes, Rhubarb, Artichoke, and Asparagus. Aromatics such as Ginger and Tumeric, and Herbs such as Rosemary, Lemon Verbena, and Mint. These you plant once and each year they will produce more and more food. There are also many perennial versions of our much-loved annuals such as Perennial Basil, and Perpetual Spinach. This year I have added Egyptian Walking Onions, more Berries, Fruit Trees, Asparagus and Artichoke.
I am converting more and more of my gardens to perennials because not only does that mean I have more time to spend developing new gardens or pouring hours into creating more gardening content but, Perennial Plants also allow a seamless transition and continuous supply of food. Perennials will either produce all year round or they will have certain times of the year when they are fruiting or producing. If you want to really level it up you can plan out when your perennials are ready and ripe and plan to fill in the gaps with other perennials that will be productive during these gaps in the season. For example, my citrus are ready in winter, then over summer I have berries, and in autumn I have Feijoas. My plan is to have a continuous supply of fruit all year round so I will continue to select plants that are ready during the gaps.
2. Chop and Drop
This is a technique of mulching and composting that I use in my urban food forest. Any time I trim my plants or remove any annuals I simply chop up the leaves and branches and drop them around the garden allowing the plant matter to break down and feed my plants. This is very easy to do and I don’t have to move plant material anywhere. It protects the soil from the sun, suppresses weeds and it feeds my soil to help grow more and more food! It’s a win-win situation and saves a lot of time. Fruit trees also love the fungal properties that rotting sticks and branches provide.
This technique works best with a food forest situation rather than a veggie patch, as it would be much harder to spread the plant matter and not cover small seedlings. This may also attract slaters or woodlice which will help break down the plant matter but these little critters are not something you want in your veggie patch.
3. Direct Sow Seeds
This is my favourite way to plant seeds. No, it’s not the most effective, but it saves a lot of time. I find direct sowing seeds straight into the garden can take a bit longer for them to germinate because it might not be the right soil temperatures but once they pop up they will usually be stronger plants. Sowing in seed trays means you can control the conditions and bring them inside which will encourage them to pop up sooner but you need to baby them and care for them. Harden them off by taking them outside so they can get used to outside temperatures before you plant them in the garden. They are just more fiddly and do require more attention. So where I can I go with the survival of the fittest approach and plant a few extra seeds.
4. Grow Soil
If you are time-poor and only have small amounts of time to allocate to your gardens, I would definitely put a big chunk of that into improving your soil and creating soil-improving systems. This will go a long way in creating sustainable gardens. Healthy nutrient-rich soil means your plants will grow faster, they will be stronger and more resilient and they will not succumb to pests and diseases as easily. If your soil is poor and lacks nutrients you will end up spending more time trying to keep your plants alive, more time watering and more time babying your plants.
Following on from growing soil – keeping your gardens well mulched is a great system to help build soil for sustainable gardens. Mulch will start to break down over time and feed your soil. Mulching also helps keep moisture in so your gardens won’t need as much watering and they help suppress weeds. Weeds are not friends with time-poor or lazy gardeners. So having a thick layer of mulch will help reduce the time needed for weeding and also the weeds that do grow will be so much easier to pull out.
6. Make it Close and Convenient
Choosing a location for your garden can be a make or break for the time-poor or lazy gardener. If you decide to grow your veggie patch or garden down the back of your property or behind the shed, it may start off okay whilst you are full of enthusiasm and feeling inspired, but eventually it will be out of sight and out of mind…. this happens to me all the time and my property is just a suburban block. I plant all my low-maintenance plants such as perennials and fruit trees all in the outer parts of my property and the annuals or plants that require more attention or regular harvesting, within view of my kitchen. In permaculture, we call these zones and it makes so much sense. When it’s raining, dark or you have had a long day, traipsing out to the veggie patch might not be high on the list. But, if you have your gardens close to your house and within view, you might notice something that needs harvesting or attention, and your garden will naturally receive more love and attention because of that. Therefore it will be more productive.
Even If this means you start off with small container gardens and once you master that move on to larger more permanent spaces.
7. Grow Wild
Creating diversity and growing lots of plants all together will not only do amazing things for the number of beneficial insects in your garden, but it can also be a lot more low maintenance. Conventional gardens with neat edges, straight rows, and symmetrical layouts will take a lot more time to maintain. By creating a garden that is a little wilder it will look lush and have less room for weeds to take up home. Even if you do get some weeds they blend in and don’t look too messy and hey, some of them may even be edible or provide flowers for the bees. Edible ground covers are great for this.
8. Let Plants go to Seed
If you let some of your plants go to flower and seed you will have plants popping up all on their own next season. This is another way you can create sustainable garden systems. The great thing about self-sown seeds is that they stay dormant in the soil until they get the right conditions to grow and then they shoot up. With absolutely no effort on your behalf. I have lettuce, tomatoes, basil, and edible flowers pop up nearly every year. Free FOOD! This technique can be amazing but it can also be a little wild at times. It’s important to try to contain the seeds on your property. I let a celery plant go to seed once and I had celery popping up in everywhere!
9. Easy Watering
Watering can take up a lot of time, especially during the warmer months. And if you run out of time or can’t be bothered then you could lose your plants after just one day in the peak of summer (especially if you live here in Perth!). Thinking about watering and creating sustainable watering systems will go such a long way to savingtime in the garden.
Some great tips are to install automatic timers and drip lines. Another is to ensure you have a hose nearby to your gardens and make it a retractable hose! Nothing puts you off watering than thinking about unraveling and putting away a hose. A retractable hose can be out and back in seconds and it has honestly been a game-changer for me in my garden!
Mulching will also help with water retention.
10. Get the Plant Selection Right
Selecting the right plants will go a long way toward creating a low-maintenance sustainable garden. We talked about choosing perennials earlier but there are also other plant selection criteria than can really help you grow an abundant garden with less effort.
Choose local or native plants. Plants that thrive in your local area will be much more adapted to the conditions and will be easier to grow. Native edible plants are often interesting and unique additions to your garden. They will also attract your local pollinators and wildlife which is a bonus!
Choose low-maintenance plants. Some plants require more care and upkeep than others. And some will have a lot more pests and diseases than others. This will vary from place to place.
Tomatoes – require staking and tying and are susceptible to pests and diseases. I often grow cherry tomatoes as I find them a lot easier to grow.
Stone fruit – Trees such as Nectarines, Peaches, and Plums have soft skin and can be vulnerable to many pests and diseases. Birds, fruit flies, rats, bats, etc. They may require netting or individually bagging fruit to ensure you get a harvest. I have chosen citrus as they have thicker skins and I find them a little more hardy and low maintenance. I have a lot of citrus for that reason such as Lemon, Lime, Blood Orange, Finger Limes, Blood Limes, Kumquat, and Lemonade.
Herbs and fragrant plants such as Lemon Verbena, Rosemary, and Ginger are often left alone by pests and are easy to grow.
This is where it is a great idea to visit small local nurseries where you can get helpful advice on what grows well in your local climate.
WATCH Sustainable Gardening HACKS for Time-Poor Gardeners
These 10 edible plants to sow in March will get your Autumn garden off to a productive start. These edible plants can all be grown in containers or the garden so you can grow more of your own food at home. I am gardening in Perth, Australia and these 10 edible plants to sow in March are great transition plants to bridge the gap between summer and winter to help you produce a continuous supply of food at home.
There is nothing better than walking out into your garden to pick and harvest your own fresh, nutrient-rich food. No chaotic shops are needed!
WATCH 10 Edible Plants to Sow in March
Top 10 Edible Plants to Sow in March
Radish are so easy to grow, they can handle a range of soils and environments, and they are also one of the quickest veggies to grow! From seed to table in just 4 weeks. Also, the whole plant is edible. The roots are delicious fresh in a salad, or, added to your roast veggies, and the leaves can be chucked into stirfries or blitz to make pesto or chimichurri to dress your salads and meals. There are a lot of different varieties of Radish that range in flavour, so if you don’t enjoy the pepperiness of Radish, choose the white or light coloured varieties. Radish also makes delicious pickles and you all know I’m obsessed with pickles.
If the Radish is not harvested it will send up a flower and create seed pods. The seed pods are also edible when they are young or they can be left to dry and save the seeds for a sustainable food supply.
The thing I love most about Radish is you can plant them in between your veggies. They grow so fast that they are ready to pick before the other vegetables take up too much space. This means you maximise your space to grow more food.
2. Rainbow Chard
Rainbow chard doesn’t do too well in the heat of summer so most climates will only grow chard over the cooler months. Rainbow chard has large leaves so it can lose moisture and wilt quickly. If you plant Chard over the summer choose a shady location. Autumn is a great time to sow your Rainbow Chard seeds. Rainbow Chard is super versatile in the kitchen and it brightens up the winter garden with its’ neon coloured stems.
Rainbow Chard can be used in nearly every meal as a substitute for spinach.
Lettuce can be a delicate plant to grow and doesn’t tolerate the heat well. Autumn is a great time to plant lettuce in the garden. If you want to grow lettuce during summer then find a cool spot that receives shade during the hot afternoons. Otherwise, it will just go to flower and seed if it gets too hot and then it tastes awful and bitter. Due to its’ delicate nature, lettuce is best sown in seed trays and planted out into the garden when it is a seedling. Little seeds and seedlings will be susceptible to pests such as slugs, snails and slaters. Check out natural pest management for tips on how to reduce loss from pests.
The whole Beetroot plant is edible and the leaves can be used just like chard or spinach. You can pick off the outer leaves just one or two from each plant while they grow to get a prolonged harvest.
Fun fact: Rainbow chard is actually part of the beetroot family!
You can use the roots grated fresh in a salad, roasted beetroot is sooo good, especially the yellow and white varieties they are so sweet! Beetroot is also delicious pickled and canned to preserve the harvest.
I have planted the White, Golden, and Chioggia varieties. The Chioggia has beautiful candy cane stripes. It is also very sweet.
Spinach is another great Autumn veggie to plant and will offer you an abundance of greens for the rest of the year. There are many different types of spinach and a few that I like to grow are the Malabar Climbing Spinach – it seems to do well here in Perth as it is more like a succulent type of plant. Perpetual Spinach is also another great producer that can offer you greens for most, if not all of the year.
Onions are a staple vegetable to grow for adding flavour to meals and there are many different varieties. Planting onions randomly throughout your gardens can help deter pests due to their strong scent. Egyptians walking onions are a great perennial onion variety. They grow onion bulbs on the base like most onions but the difference is, they also grow mini bulbs on the tips too and as these grow they get heavy and bend over to touch the ground and then this bulb will start growing so they sort of move around the garden which is pretty neat! Plus, they just regrow on their own which supports a sustainable garden.
Rocket or Arugula is a great leafy green to grow because it is fast-growing and it can be added to a range of meals. Add fresh baby rocket leaves on top of your meals for added flavour and nutrition. Rocket will get quite bitter if it doesn’t get enough water and also will bolt if it’s still too warm. If you are sowing it early in the season or in summer, grow it somewhere with a little shade. I sow little patches of Rocket throughout my garden at different times to have a continuous supply.
Rosella is a type of hibiscus that has edible leaves that you can use as a substitute for spinach. The flower buds are edible and are great for making tea, syrups and jams.
Fennel is a top edible plant to grow at home as the whole plant is edible. During the warmer months, Fennel plants mainly produce leaves/fronds and flowers which are great flavour enhancements for meals or pickling. The fronds can be used to make a delicious pesto. Once the weather cools down in Autumn the bulbs will start to bulk up. Fennel is so crunchy and fresh and pairs really well with citrus. Roasted fennel is also super delicious. There are two main varieties green Florence and bronze. The green Fennel does tend to go a little wilder than the bronze.
Chives have a delicious onion flavour and produce purple flowers that are also edible. Chives are another edible plant to mix in your garden beds and help deter pests naturally.
Comment below if you are going to grow any of these Edible Plants to Sow in March 🌱👇
Today I’m going to share with you 10 tips to grow more food from your edible home garden. These tips are so easy and you can implement them today to boost your garden’s production. No matter whether you are renting or living in an apartment.
It is no secret that we are facing a very real food security and shortage with many supermarket shelves completely empty. There has never been a better time to start growing your own food or ramp up your home gardens production. These tips will help you maximize the amount of fresh homegrown food you can produce from home. Starting NOW!
WATCH 10 tips to Produce more Food
10 tips to Produce more Food at Home
1. Trim your Herbs
Especially if they are starting to flower. Herbs such as Basil, Mint, and Thyme can all be grown in pots, and trimming the tops will promote a bigger bushier plant. When plants get hot, stressed, or are just left to just grow, they will send off flowers to produce seeds for another generation. Trimming off these seeds will let your herbs know that it’s not time yet, and to keep producing. Just chuck the tops and seeds back in the garden and they will sprout new plants, dry or preserve your herbs, or pop the purple stems in vinegar and make a vibrant basil infusion! You can then use this to make salad dressings by mixing with a little olive oil and lemon juice.
2. Regularly Plant “quick-to-grow” Crops
Quick-growing crops are great to continuously interplant in your garden to get quick wins. Edible plants such as Radish and Rocket are super quick to germinate and grow. Plant radish in the gaps of your garden for quick and easy food production. Radish isready from seed to table in just 28 days and is one of the quickest things you can grow! Radish not only provides fresh crunchy vegetables to add to salads but you can also eat the leafy tops by making pesto or chimichurri. If you are not a fan of the spicey radish, then try them with your roast veggies! So sweet and delicious!
3. Succession Planting
A little planning goes a long way in an edible home garden. If you know your veggies will be finishing up soon, plant new seeds to have seedlings ready to go. You can plant your new seedling out before you have pulled out the old ones so that you can transition straight away and prevent empty spaces from going to waste without producing food. I also like to grow different varieties so I plant each type two weeks apart to help stagger the crops.
4. Hand Pollinate
In an ideal world we will have lots of bees and pollinators in our home gardens to do the work for us. This isn’t always the case, especially if you live in an apartment or your gardens are new. Hand-pollinating can help ensure more of your fruit and veggies are pollinated and set to form full-sized fruit. We definitely want to encourage bees and pollinators by planting flowers but hand-pollinating can be an added insurance. This works best on plants such as Melon, Squash, Zucchini, and Pumpkin. Click here for more info on how to hand pollinate.
Your plant’s main goal is actually not to make delicious food to feed us humans… but to produce seeds to secure its future generation. If the plant feels it has enough fruit or vegetables produced with seeds it will slow or stop producing. Regularly picking your harvest when it is just ready will make the plant think that it has lost its seeds to predators so it will continue to produce more and more. So try not to leave things too long on the plant once they look ready. This also reduces the risk of other critters nabbing your produce first too.
7. Learn more about Root to Shoot
Conventionally 30-50%, maybe even more of the edible plants are discarded. Crops such as Beetroot leaves, Carrot tops, Brassica leaves and stems, Sweet Potato leaves, male Pumpkin or Zucchini flowers, and so much more! Learn what parts of the plant are edible and you could double the amount of food you have in your garden in a matter of hours!! I have some recipes on my blog but this is something we dive deeper into inside my membership.
8. Plant Perennials
Perennials are plants that last longer than 2 years. These may be a little slower to establish but once they do, they produce an abundance of food with just a little maintenance. These are plants such as Berries, Fruit trees, Artichoke, Asparagus, perennial Spinach varieties, Rhubarb and so much more! Having perennials in your garden will help you maintain your food supply. I also have an article on A-Z edible perennials available inside my membership.
9. Stack in Time and Space
Use the space you have in your edible home garden to grow both horizontally and vertically. This can maximize the amount of food you can grow. Having a trellis at the back of your garden or container can help create structure and expand your food production capabilities. I also let plants use my fruit trees to grow up. Whether that’s beans, tomatoes, melons, or pumpkins. Growing vertically can double the amount of food you can grow in a single space. Stacking in time is just like succession planting. Plant crops that will be starting to take off as the previous ones are finishing up. If you have a vertical crop that may produce more shade on the lower levels this can also provide a cooler climate to grow some more sun-sensitive crops such as lettuce. Especially in these hot summers.
10.Utilise Space with Container Gardens
Even if you have a large veggie patch, container gardens still have plenty of use. Container gardens are great for growing prolific plants that can be a little invasive. These are plants such as Mint, Nasturtium, and Sunchokes. Not only will you get lots of food but your precious garden space won’t be overrun with the weed-like growth of these plants. Containers are also good for maximizing the sun and shade. You can move them around during the year to follow the sun or reduce the amount of direct sunlight in summer.
Start TODAY with these 10 tips to produce more food from your edible home garden! Let me know if any of these tips sparked inspiration with you in the comments below.
Turn leftover Banana peels into a natural dried banana fertilizer to grow an abundance of fruit and vegetables.
My name is Holly and I am on a mission to create a self-sufficient edible garden in my suburban property. I am converting grass into thriving urban permaculture gardens.
It’s important to reduce the amount of organic matter going to landfills because when it does go to the landfill, it is piled up and starved of oxygen. This process is not conducive to breaking down our scraps and they end up producing methane gas, which is not good for our environment. That’s where composting and turning our scraps into natural fertilizers not only boosts the health and production of our gardens but is also better for our planet.
Watch how to make Dried Banana Peel Fertilizer
Which plants will benefit the most from banana peel fertilizer?
Banana peels have potassium which is an essential nutrient for promoting more flowers and fruit on plants. Prioritize your dried banana peel fertilizer on your flowering plants such as Pumpkin, squash, capsicum, and fruit trees. Promoting flowers will offer more chances of fruit!
Having potassium on hand can help when you have deficiencies in the soil. Potassium deficiency can show as leaves turning yellow one falling off especially the older leaves.
If you are growing your own bananas and you get to harvest the fruit, then you can use your peels to feed the plants and create your own fully self-sufficient gardening system!
You can also make a banana peel fertilizer by soaking the peels in water. I talk more about that on my video about 15 natural fertilizers so definitely check that out for more ways to turn your homegrown produce into fertilizers to grow more of your own food.
How to make dried banana peel fertilizer?
To make dried banana fertilizer take your banana peels and lay them out on a tray to dry. You want to keep them somewhere warm and dry until they turn black and crispy. Natural Sunlight is great and will take 1-2 days to dry depending on the temperatures. You could also use a dehydrator to remove the moisture.
Chop the peels up a little to help speed up the drying process. Remove the ends and compost them as these will take a lot longer to dry.
Then once they are completely dry and crumbly. Crush them up into a powder using a mortar and pestle or a coffee grinder/spice grinder.
Sprinkle a couple of TBSP around your fruit and veggie plants. It’s that easy! You can also add 2 TBSP to a jar of water and mix to pour around your plants.
Choosing a new fruit tree is exciting, daunting, and at times, overwhelming with possibilities! I am adding another fruit tree to my garden and I would love to share that process with you. Plus, some tips to help you select the best fruit tree for your garden.
Click Below to Watch
Growing Fruit Trees at Home
Fruit trees can be grown and incorporated into many home garden designs to create abundant, fresh food. Fruit trees can even be grown in pots or containers for urban gardens. There really is so many ways to grow your own delicious fruit at home, no matter the size of your garden.
Tips to Choose a New Fruit Tree
Below are some tips or things to consider when you are looking to buy a new fruit tree. Take down a few notes and this will help you eliminate or come up with a clear idea to speak with your local fruit tree nurseries.
Analyse theSun and Shade – is there a specific spot you are looking to fill or are you limited with where you can plant a fruit tree? If this is the case, just do a quick analysis of the conditions. Does it get full sun? are there large trees? or buildings that will shade it during winter? The sun tracks lower in the sky during Autumn and Winter and this means more shadows will be cast across your garden. This can have a huge impact on the growth of your tree.
Learn from my mistakes! I once planted a lime in an area that only gets full sun during the middle of summer. It never grew well and when I moved it to a full sun location, it has took off and is loaded with limes! Citrus like 6+ hours of sunlight a day. So noting down the sun and shade will help you pick a fruit tree that will thrive.
Wind – Does your property get strong winds? If so, what direction do they typically go? This can be very helpful to note down. Some fruit trees do not cope well with strong winds. Papaya, Tamarillo and Banana do not like strong winds. Especially while they are young and delicate. It may mean you need to plant a wind shelter or position your fruit tree in an area that receives less wind. Creating temporary barriers may also be a great solution to protect the tree while it is young and vulnerable.
Temperatures – Take note of your maximum and minimum temperatures. This can be a factor in whether or not you will be able to grow a particular fruit tree or if it will perform below average because of it. Do you receive snow? Frosts? These are important to note down and you may be able to find this information out on local weather reports. Feijoa or “Pineapple Guava” like to have at least 50 chill hours per year to produce good quality crops. Here in Perth, Australia, we can grow Feijoa, but they don’t taste quite as good ( in my opinion). This is also the case with extremely high temperatures, some fruit trees will not perform well. Sometimes, this can be managed with microclimates. Microclimates are areas in your garden that that have unique qualities. For example – next to a metal fence may be warmer, or a shady area with a pond may be cooler with more humidity. This can help you tailor and customise the surrounding to better suit your fruit tree.
Root systems – Take note if you have any concrete, pavers, a pool or plumbing nearby. Some fruit trees have huge root systems that can crack concrete or damage pools. If that is a factor then note that down. There are plenty of trees that have shallow or small root systems or you can plant in containers or pots.
Height Restrictions – would it matter if the fruit tree grew too tall? Fruit trees can be pruned to keep manageable but if you have restrictions such as neighbouring buildings, power lines, roof, eves or fences, it may be worth choosing a shorter variety grafted on dwarf root stock. This will mean the maximum height will be a lot shorter and you will not need to prune and maintain it as often.
How much time do you have to Care and Maintain the Fruit Tree? – Some fruit trees will require a lot more care and maintenance to actually get a good harvest from. Stone fruit for example, will often need to be netted to prevent fruit flies, bats or birds from decimating your crop. If you are wanting a low maintenance fruit tree then there are plenty of options available. Speak to your local fruit tree nursery to see what low maintenance fruit trees thrive in your local area.
What other Fruit Trees do you have? I have a lot of citrus already, so I want to get something different for my next fruit tree.
Have you tried that Fruit before? Once you have an understanding of your specific climate and have a few key points noted down on sun, shade, wind and surroundings, the next thing is to taste some fruit! You don’t want to spend money, allocate space and time, to grow something that you don’t actually like! This can seem obvious, but is often overlooked with the excitement of new fruit trees. Some fruit will be hard to find as there are many types of fruit that don’t travel well and cannot be sold commercially. These can often be found at local growers markets or on local gardening pages. Imagine waiting four or five years for your tree to fruit and then hate the fruit..that would be so annoying!
Observe & Interact – take time to slow down and observe your garden.
What Next? Choose a New Fruit Tree!
Now that you have a little more of an understanding of your climate and restrictions, it’s time to start looking for a new fruit tree! Taking the time to stop and observe, will help you select a fruit tree that will not only thrive in your location, but, that you will also LOVE to eat! Visit your local fruit tree nurseries or fruit tree specialists for valuable local knowledge. They may even be able to order in rare varieties. Local community groups also offer a wealth of knowledge.
In this video I try some tropical fruit to decide whether or not I want to purchase those fruit trees.
What fruit tree do you want to plant next? Let me know in the comments.