Growing Fruit in Cool Climates
Lots of us love to grow our own food these days, and some of us are even getting a bit serious about it! Planting fruit trees or hedgerows of berries is taking it to the next level, in my opinion. That's not to say that growing seasonal veggies like greens, squash, tomatoes, etc. isn't a big commitment, (because it is!) but when you plant food-producing trees and bushes, they really can start to take up some space! Granted, once they're planted, there is less overall labor involved as compared to a vegetable garden, but most of us just don't have the space sitting around waiting to be turned into an orchard. So to do so, we're talking real commitment and dedication. What part of your existing garden are you going to rip out??
If you've gotten to the point where you're ready to make space, you really need to make sure that you plant the right varieties so they'll actually produce fruit in a cool/temperate climate. First, find out if the variety you want is self-pollinating (1 plant will do) or if it needs cross-pollination (you'll need at least 2 different varieties). Also, many types and varieties of fruit need a certain minimum number of “chill hours” (temp. between 32 & 45 deg.) in the winter and a sustained period of warm weather in the summer that you just can't get in some neck of the woods. You can find out these requirements from either the tag at the nursery or from the catalog you're ordering from. Here's a tip to give you an idea: coastal areas in northern California get an average of 500 or less "chill hours" , so it's usually safe to plant something there that requires 400 hours or less and is early ripening. The sellers catalog or website will indicate all of this.
Here's a list of what you can grow, might be able to grow and probably can't grow, in coastal temperate climates:
- low chill apples & pears
- most plum varieties
- most blackberry varieties
- Meyer lemons
- low chill blueberries & raspberries
- low chill nectarines
- other citrus
Start looking at catalogs now, or if you want to shop in person, your nursery should be getting bare root plants in soon!