Planting Fruit Trees With Carl Grimm

By AM Northwest Staff

Today we spoke with Carl Grimm about planting fruit trees and here are some of his helpful hints:

This is the perfect time of year to plant your fruit trees. You can find varieties of fruit not common at grocery stores or farmer’s markets. For example, salal is a beautiful plant native to our region that is easy to grow, evergreen and produces tasty berries usually in late summer. Golden raspberry doesn’t look like much in winter, but come summer, it will be laden with sweet, juicy golden-colored berries.

Many fruiting trees, shrubs, and vines all can be purchased bare root in winter and they get shipped in February or March. Bare root is cheaper. A $2 bare root raspberry goes for about $10 potted. Bare root is also convenient. You can order online and have it shipped to your door. Bare root is also planted at a time when the rain does the watering for you so you don’t have to. Just be sure to plant bare root plants as soon as you get them so they do not dry out and die.

Another tip for selecting fruit trees is to always get ones with dwarf rootstock so they do not grow taller than 8-15 feet. It is much easier to care for and harvest fruit from a smaller tree. You may need to stake them however, since their root system is not as strong as larger trees.

Blueberries are easy to prune. One method is to simply remove a couple of the oldest branches. This will stimulate new growth, which is more productive than old.

Apples, pears, plums and other tree fruits are a little more tricky to prune. Some fruit on old wood, some on new, and timing matters. In general, winter pruning stimulates new vegetative growth, while summer pruning stimulates more fruit. You can learn the best techniques at a pruning workshop. Our local Home Orchard Society offers great classes, resources and events throughout the year.

Even the "organic" sprays can be quite toxic. Spraying is also expensive to hire out and difficult to do effectively. To avoid the need for spraying fruit trees, add compost and mulch to your soil each year, prune well to let in sun and air and prevent disease. And when you can, select disease resistant varieties like ‘Liberty’ and ‘Criterion’ apples.

To prevent "wormy" apples, winter spraying is largely ineffective. The best and easiest approach for home gardeners is to wait until late May and slip a nylon footie or small paper bag over each fingernail-sized apple at the time you are thinning the fruit. This will prevent most apple maggots and codling moth larvae from getting inside your apples. 

  • The Home Orchard Society is the premier organization in the region for information and programs on growing fruit at home, click here
  • Two Pacific Northwest nurseries with a large selection of fruit trees and plants are One Green World, click here
  • Or Rain Tree, click here
  • For food preserving information, try OSU Extension, click here, or click here
  • For native plants, the local Naturescaping program offers an online plant sale in January (including bare root salal and elderberry), click here
  • For more natural gardening information, call Metro at 503-234-3000 or visit click here.

    Grow You Own Organic Fruit!

    It’s delicious, nutritious, beautiful, and fun.




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