Growing Fruits and Berries

— Written By Annie Mills
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General Site Requirements for Fruit

Small fruit and tree fruit should be planted in an area with at least eight hours of sun. To avoid damage to spring blooms and fruit productions, avoid pockets of the yard where temperatures may drop lower than the rest of the yard and where frost forms more easily. For some types of fruit two are more varieties are needed for pollination, so be sure to evaluated the space needed for more than one plant at their mature size.

What to Grow

Some fruits are easier to grow than others in the NC Piedmont. This means that some produce fruit more reliably, have fewer insect and disease problems, and that some may not require as much fruit thinning and pruning to produce fruit. Below you will find general information on the types of fruit that are more easily grown here. You can visit the Tree Fruit and Nuts Chapter or the Small Fruits Chapter of the NC Extension Gardener Handbook for more in depth information on variety selection. Some varieties of fruit will be self-fruitful, but will benefit from another variety for better fruit quality.

Small Fruit Type Ease of Production Fruit Quality with Organic Production SelfFruitful   Needs Cross Pollination
Blueberries Easy Good x
Blackberries Easy Good x
Strawberries Easy Good x
Muscadines Moderate Good x
Tree Fruit Type Ease of Production Fruit Quality with        Organic Production Self Fruitful   Needs Cross Pollination
Figs Easy Good x
Asian Persimmons Easy Good x
Pecans Easy Poor x
Pears and Asian Pears Moderate Poor x
Plums Moderate Poor x
Apples Moderate/Difficult Poor x
Peaches Difficult Poor x
Nectarines Difficult Poor x

Soil Preparation: soil testing is the only accurate way of knowing which nutrients and how much lime your soil needs. Testing the soil will keep your landscape healthy, save money, and also prevent application of excess fertilizers and lime which can have negative effects on our environment and waterways. Tree fruit and small fruit grow best with a pH above 6.0-6.5. Blueberries require a pH of 4.0-5.0. In Randolph County, the pH is typically slightly acidic. Soil samples should be taken before establishing a new lawn and repeated ever 2-4 years to maintain proper pH and nutrient availability. Soil sampling with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture is free from April 1 – Thanksgiving and only $4 per sample the rest of the year. You test the soil any time and can pick up sampling kits from your local Extension office during business hours. NC State Extension has many resources online about collecting a soil sample and you can find your results online at the Agronomic Services Division website. As the landowner, you will package and send the samples in yourself using FedEx, USPS, or UPS.

Site Preparation: No weeds or grass should be present in the beds prior to planting. They can be removed by hand, or killed with a broad spectrum herbicide, or you can solarize the soil with clear plastic. In clay soils and poorly drained areas, tree fruit will benefit from raised beds mounded 18″-24″ high and about 4′-8′ wide. Lime should be added at a depth of 18″ if necessary based on your soil test. Small fruits will benefit from mounded beds 6″-12″ high and 4′ wide. Incorporate 2-4″ of compost int the top 6-10″ of soil and till in before planting.

Pruning Videos