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MUST GROW Fruit Trees, Vines & Shrubs in a BACKYARD ORCHARD

Updated: Feb 26


Variety List
It's about that time of the year when mail-order nurseries are sending out their nursery catalogs and I would be remiss if I didn't talk about some of the other amazing fruits that you can grow. Not just figs. In the nursery catalogs, you'll see a lot of varieties of fruiting plants and you can get confused and overwhelmed pretty easily! Like where should I buy them? Which variety is best for me? Should I even grow that particular fruit? How should I organize my backyard orchard?

In this blog post, I want to let you all in on several varieties that I am very fond of in terms of eating experience. I think they are so good that like fig trees, you must grow them to experience how amazing nature can be.

After all, isn't that why we buy a nice bottle of wine or go to a nice restaurant? It's for the experience. We can do the same thing by growing specially selected varieties of fruit. It's important to realize that genetics are everything. People have grown thousands of varieties to find the very best ones. If you choose the right variety for flavor, you will be rewarded and it's the genetics that largely dictate how good a fruit, vegetable, or mushroom can taste.

Where should I order plants & can I order them online?



Yes. Ordering plants in the mail is a real thing and to be honest it's already become the most common way to grow special varieties of fruiting plants. While I believe in supporting your local nurseries, in the world of fruit, a nursery with the special varieties that we're looking for can be quite a far drive away.

It's important to realize that depending on what you're ordering and on what website, you can receive very different plants. Some nurseries ship container plants that have soil. Others send bare-rooted plants and trees. Each style has its own positives and negatives. For any questions on what you're buying, closely inspect the website. You can also call their customer support to find out more information.

My personal favorite mail-order fruit tree nurseries are:


  • Edible Landscaping - For their very helpful, knowledgeable & generous staff and owner.

  • One Green World - For their continued dedication to growing better varieties of fruit. They have a great selection.

  • Burnt Ridge - For their education and selection of specialty and unique fruit and nut plants.

  • Adam's County Nursery & Cummins Nursery - For their high-quality bare root fruit trees and high-quality varieties that are being planted in orchards all over the East Coast.

  • Indiana Berry & Nourse Farms - For their low prices and high-quality berry plants

  • Madison Citrus Nursery - For their high quality, affordable, and wide selection of citrus trees.

  • Double A Vineyards - For their high quality, affordable, and wide selection of grape vines.


I also really like Whitman Farms, Raintree Nursery, England's Nursery, and HoneyberryUSA. If any of the nurseries above want to work with me, please contact me here on the blog.

Must grow fruiting plants


Berries:

Marionberry


This is probably my favorite berry. It's as if you ate a blackberry, but you added an explosion of raspberry flavor with an intensity that's 4x a normal red raspberry. It's truly incredible. Its downside is that it's not very hardy. Only to about 5F. They also need a trellis. Just take them down off of their trellis and cover them with mulch. I recently added a variety called Columbia Star because it's supposed to be a thornless version of the marionberry and is supposed to taste even better. Some other blackberry-like plants worth considering are the Loganberry, the Snowbank White Blackberry, the Olympic, and the Thimbleberry (so far it's only found in Europe).


Black Raspberry


After trying all of the colors you can find in raspberries, (pink, yellow, red, purple & black) black raspberries are by far my favorite. They have the highest raspberry intensity and complexity. The lighter the color, typically the more mild they are and while that's pleasant, after eating a black raspberry, I see no reason to grow any other color.


Carmine Goumi


The Carmine variety of Goumi is 4x larger than the other common varieties you'll find. It also goes by the name Tillamook. Because of its larger size, it's a much better eating experience. The pit-to-flesh ratio is appropriate otherwise I fear this fruit may be too much work to eat fresh. However, when eaten fresh, they are some of the most complex-tasting fruits that I grow. They're acidic, tart, sweet, fruity, and even have a touch of astringency that adds another level of complexity. When left on the bush they dried into a gummy consistency.


Alpine Strawberry


Like the American persimmon, these are the most fragrant fruits of all I think. When you take a bite, it fills your sinuses with some of the most pleasant smells you can find in food.


Draper Blueberry


Speaking of fragrance this variety of blueberry also has a strong fragrance. There's something about it. It's like you can taste the antioxidants within. It's truly superb.


Gooseberry


These are like slightly tart grapes. They're not nearly as good as an impressive Labrusca or Vinifera grape, but they ripen early in the season and for my money, they're well worth growing. I like Hinnomaki Red, but I know that Hinnomaki Yellow & Black Velvet are also highly recommended.


Kiwi Berry


Oh man oh man. Did you know that the kiwi is one of the most popular fruits in America? Kiwi berries are even better. They're better tasting and have no fuzz on the skin allowing you to eat them like a grape. Anna is the standard variety, but I am now growing the self-fertile Issai.

Honeyberry


This is a very misunderstood fruit. If you've tried in the past and ripped it out, plant another. Trust me if you have taste buds, you'll love this fruit. The problem is knowing when to pick it. You have to let them soften on the bush. They turn blue and depending on the variety, you could need to wait 3-5 weeks before picking. They size up, and become sweeter and softer. The top variety for fresh eating is called Aurora.


Mulberry


I love a wide variety of mulberries. I know that the king of mulberries is a species within mulberries called Morus Nigra. It's very good. Even here where it's humid. If you can't grow Morus Nigra, I still really like this fruit. Even varieties like Girardi or Illinois Everbearing. There's something about them that draws me to them every year. I'd love to grow a white variety. They're supposed to be sweeter, but finding a white fruiting dwarf variety like Girardi so far is quite difficult.


Grapes


Like the fig, these fruits are to die for. No wonder people obsess over making wine out of them. They are a truly amazing fruit. Grow either the Labrusca or Vinifera vines. They're both very good. Mars has been my best producer thus far. One type of grape however that's constantly overlooked is the muscadine grape. It's a grape native to the South with very good disease resistance and almost no issues. I would highly recommend Lane and Triumph for colder places.


Other fruits:

Pawpaw


The temperate banana, but better. They are better than some of the best banana varieties I've eaten, but only when picked perfectly. Pick them when they're coming right off the tree with very little effort or let them fall off the tree.


Indian Free Peach


This peach combines the best qualities of a yellow and white fleshed peach. It's truly amazing. I really love Redhaven as it probably is the standard of all peach varieties, but this peach blows it out of the water in terms of flavor.


Early Blush Apricot


From what I can tell, this apricot is a different type of Apricot than others I've grown and eaten. It's not a "dry" apricot. It's juicy like a peach. They're much better tasting than my other variety Tomcot. Early Blush has a cotton candy flavor when grown in dryer soil and when the fruits receive ample sunlight.


Comice Pear


The king of pears for sure. It's got the best melt-in-your-mouth texture. Last year I tasted a pear called Harrow Sweet. I was very impressed, but I fear that there's only one Comice. It's like eating a pear marshmallow.


Asian Pears


I find that these have a better flavor than European Pears. They're quite complex and can like the Earli Blush apricot, it can taste like cotton candy. My tree is of the variety Chojuro. So far it's very productive and fireblight-resistant too.


Astringent Persimmon


Persimmons produce the highest quality and best-tasting fruit the most consistently in my yard. They are incredible for their flavor (especially the astringent types), but they are also some of the best problem-free trees. I would highly recommend Hachiya if you can grow it in your area to produce hoshigaki. The American types however taste extremely fragrant and are loaded with spicey & dried fruit flavors. It's one of the best experiences you can find in fruit.


Red Fleshed Apples


While I'm not growing any, I do believe this is the future of apples. I recently tasted apples called Lucy Rose and Lucy Glo at the grocery store. Lucy Rose is a notch behind Glo as it's a mild strawberry-flavored Honeycrisp. The Lucy Glo apples I tried were much better colored, had less acidity, a better texture, and way more berry flavor. I've also grown an apple below called Hawaii. It does taste like pineapple and I'm looking forward to more from my apple trees (hopefully this season). I'm growing some exquisite varieties like Golden Russet, King David & Gravenstein.



Citrus


While the varieties and fruits I've mentioned above are all geared toward temperate climates, I would be doing you all a disservice if I did not mention citrus. Why? Because they can be grown in containers and moved inside during the winter. If you spend the time to make and learn from your mistakes in growing these trees, you'll be rewarded every winter with very high-quality (better than the store) sour citrus. And I say sour because the sweet varieties need ample photosynthesis and cold nights during the winter months.

A nice workaround is to just grow the sour types that don't need that chilly weather in the winter. It is cold here in the winter, but it's too cold. Enough to kill most of my trees. One variety however that you can plant in colder places is the Yuzu and Sudachi. These are quite hardy and produce some of the best acidity you can add to your food. I also really like Kumquats, the Eustis Limequat, Lemons, Limes, and specifically the ultra-productive finger limes. These limes when added to homemade nigiri bring it to the next level.
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I just received a Tillamook goumi. Does Tillamook goumi need another variety to cross pollinate with to be as productive as the one in your yard ?

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Michael Farrell
Michael Farrell
Dec 31, 2022

been following along on your fruit growing adventures for some time now and it has helped me get started in fruit production these past few years. here are my thoughts on your selections


1. I would love to hear your opinion of Marionberry and Columbia Star vs Prime Ark Freedom. I tried PAF in pots but it died overwinter and I'm tempted to try again in a better location in ground but not if there are better options


2. I planted some black raspberries this year because I have a lot a black walnuts nearby and black raspberries are juglone tolerant. no fruit in year 1 and waiting to see if they survive the winter. I'm growing Ohio Treasure a…


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Valya
Valya
Dec 28, 2022

Thank you for your excellent advice! My husband and I have planted many fruit trees that you've recommended. So excited to get a small harvest of fruit next year.

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Ross,


I'm glad you mention Muscadines. They can take some getting used to, but once you do they can be very rewarding.


I grew a lot of NOBLE Muscadine in N. Florida, along with "The Mother Vine", Carlos, Summit, Black Beauty, etc.


If your looking for strictly food ( wine, or fresh eating) you can not go wrong with Noble. Self Fertile, resists berry rot ( a problem on some bronze cultivars) and once established it will give one heck of a crop. They need to be fully ripe to taste good about 16% sugar when ripe.


I see you have "Lane", the Clifton Georgia ( University of Georgia) testing station says Lane has 15.5% Sugar on average...that is pretty…


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Replying to

I've bought from Ison's ( twice) they really are the best for nice large vines. I love their 2 year plus vines. The second time I bought from them my order was delayed because I also ordered an "Elliot" pecan at the same time...by the time that was ready, it was past prime planting time.


Ison's did send me extra Carlos vines 7 instead of 3 to make up for the fact that only small vines were left, and my order was delayed way past the expected shipping date. Of course I did not know I was planting extra vines in an epic drought....many Smaller Carlos did not make it even with me going out every day and hand watering…


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I'm Ross, the "Fig Boss." A YouTuber educating the world on the wonderful passion of growing fig trees. Apply my experiences to your own fig journey to grow the best tasting food possible.
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