Dessert is right outside the door when you grow your own strawberries. Sweet and juicy homegrown berries are delicious in desserts, as well as the base for jams and jellies and for garnishing summer drinks and salads. Equally loved by deer, chipmunks, and a host of other rodents, strawberries need protection in areas that have high population of these critters. The effort is worth it when you harvest handfuls of sun-ripened berries.
A plump, juicy cherry is a luxurious treat—for humans and wildlife alike. Whether you grow sweet or sour cherries, plan to share. This is usually not a problem—a mature tree produces more fruit than a typical family can consume. When choosing a cherry variety, select one that is disease-resistant, grows to the right size for your space, and is adapted to your local conditions. The smaller the tree, the easier it will be to harvest the fruit.
Cherries come in two main categories—sweet and sour. Sweet cherries grow well in the coast valleys of California, near the Great Lakes, and in the Northwest. They thrive where winters and summers are mild. Sweet cherries require a pollinator, so be sure to plant two varieties. Sour (or pie) cherries are easy to grow for most home gardeners. The hardy plants are adaptable and self-fertile—you need only one plant for fruit set.
Raspberries are an especially rewarding fruit to grow. They’re delightfully delicious, packed with nutrients and antioxidants, and easy to take care of. Plus, it’s so much easier to head out to the backyard for fresh fruit than running to the grocery store.
When planning for raspberries, it’s important to make sure you have a roomy spot. They can get relatively large—so be sure you allow for them to grow and spread. It’s also key to decide what type you want. Red, gold, and black varieties are available, and you can get everbearing (also called fall-bearing) or June-bearing types. Everbearing raspberries produce fruit over a longer period in late summer and fall; June-bearing types produce a heavy crop all at once in early summer.
Of all the stone fruits, plums are some of the most varied. They range from hardy little cherry plums and sand cherries to hybrids with the hardiness of natives, sweet European plums, and sweet or tart Japanese plums. Grow several different species and have fun comparing the fruits' taste and texture. You'll be surprised by the diversity. Plums are relatively easy to grow and the trees are a pleasing shape in the landscape.
Pears are among the easiest and most attractive fruit trees for the home landscape. Lovely even in winter, pears are easy to prune and can be trained into a formal or informal appearance. For small landscapes and easy harvest, choose a dwarf cultivar.
These productive trees yield bushels of succulent fruits. Many pears need a pollinizer. Use any other pear. Be sure to select a self-fruitful type if you have space for only one tree.
The sweetest and juiciest peach you’ll ever taste can be picked from your own tree. When harvested at the peak of ripeness, backyard peaches are loaded with the sweet gifts of nature with no concern about shelf-stability or long transports. There are many easy-to-grow peach varieties. Grow your own with these simple tips.