Southern U.S. Fruit Trees – Growing Fruit Trees In The South
The Southern United States is one of the most fertile regions in the world. Its climate is mild with hot summers and cool winters, making it ideal for growing a wide variety of crops such as citrus, melons, peaches, pears and many others.
The area’s climate is so conducive to agriculture that its people have been cultivating fruit trees since before recorded history. Many of these ancient fruit trees are still standing today, but they have not had enough time to reach their full potential due to the harshness of the Southern climate.
In fact, some of these ancient fruit trees were destroyed during the early days of American settlement when settlers brought diseases with them from Europe and other parts of the world. These diseases included scurvy, which was caused by eating too much salt. When the colonists ate too much salt, they became weak and died. This disease spread rapidly throughout the colonies and eventually even into England where it contributed to the downfall of King Charles I.
Another major problem that plagued early Americans was drought. While the land around New Orleans had plenty of water, there wasn’t enough moisture to grow food in sufficient quantities for all of those who lived there at first. This problem was made worse in the 1800s when slavery was at its height and many landowners tried to grow cash crops, such as cotton, rather than food crops.
The 1800s also brought with them a problem from the Old World that had not previously been seen in North America: over farming. Landowners were so intent on growing cash crops that they used up all of the nutrients in their soil, and then some. There were many cases of entire plantations being taken over by weeds and shrubs.
These issues caused great hardship for much of the population of the Southern United States, but there is hope on the horizon. This article contains information about how to grow fruit trees in the South and save money while doing it.
The South and Its Soils
When people think about the American South, they usually picture the famous architecturally sound plantations that sit on large tracts of land with lush green pastures and fields. While this may have been true at one time, the reality of this way of life slowly faded away over the years as droughts dried up many farmlands and over farming destroyed not only the nutrients in the soil, but also its very structure.
When farming becomes difficult, landowners often resort to raising animals instead. Cattle are a popular choice since they can feed off of weeds and shrubs that people cannot eat. Unfortunately, grazing cattle also destroys the land since they make no distinction between poisonous and non-poisonous plants. These practices have contributed greatly to the destruction of the South’s soil, but there is still hope in the form of fruit trees.
What many people do not realize is that the soil in the South that is good for growing fruit trees, is also good for growing food crops as well! Nowadays, many landowners are implementing orchard-gardens onto their property. These beautiful and bountiful gardens make the land more profitable than ever.
So how does one go about creating an orchard-garden?
It’s quite easy. If you’re lucky enough to have on-site soil that is decent enough for growing food, then you are ready to begin. If not, there are ways of amending the soil to make it suitable for trees, but that will be discussed later.
The first thing to do is plant the trees. While one can have a wide variety of fruit trees in their orchard-garden, some are better suited than others. Apples and pears are good choices since they do well in most soil conditions and can survive cold winters. Peaches and nectarines can be a bit more finicky, but are well worth the effort.
If you have a particularly dry area of land, cherries, plums, and even persimmons do well because they are more drought-resistant.
Once the trees start growing, it is vital to give them plenty of attention in the beginning. The first three years are the most important for tree growth, so it is essential that they get enough nutrients. A good mulch, compost, and fertilization schedule goes a long way in helping them get the nutrients they need to grow into strong, healthy trees.
For the first three years of their lives, fruit trees should be given a good amount of water as well. While they may be drought-resistant, they still need a sufficient amount of water to ensure that they grow strong roots. This also means that their roots cannot have restricted growth. Rocks, large logs, and other foreign objects buried under the soil disrupt the roots ability to move and capture nutrients, so it is best to remove such things if present.
After the first three years, yearly maintenance should be sufficient to keep the trees growing at their best. The trees should be able to survive on their own at this point, but extra fertilizer and water can help in years of drought or other hardship.
With the proper care and attention, an orchard-garden can be a highly rewarding endeavor. In addition to the beautiful scenery, orchard-gardens are also great for people who want a more self-sufficient lifestyle. Not only can the trees provide food and income, but the leftover fruit waste makes great fertilizer for other crops as well!
But what about the years when there is a bad harvest? What if there are insects attacking your trees?
These are valid concerns, but do not worry. There are always ways of combating these situations.
One possibility is to breed stronger, more resilient trees that are better able to fend off the problems you are having. Crossing two different kinds of fruit trees can result in a hybrid that has better attributes than either of its parents. Of course, this is best left to people who are experienced in tree breeding and genetics.
Another approach is to create a stronger barrier around your orchard-garden so that insects do not have easy access. Most pests are only around because they have easy access to the trees in the first place. Making it more difficult for them to get to the trees will cause them to go elsewhere.
Fences, while an obvious solution, do not always work as well as one would hope. A sloped fence can sometimes be enough to deter small animals. Pegging the fence with sharp objects can also help. Sometimes, though, nothing seems to work.
In these cases, there are still other options.
A Border Collie is a herding dog that is able to keep birds and small mammals away from crops. While these dogs are more common on farms than gardens, they can sometimes be found for sale in breeders’ catalogs.
Another option is the use of repellents. Although these are not always the most effective methods, they are better than nothing at all. There are a large number of repellents on the market, but be sure to use all repellents according to package directions.
One common repellent is the motion-activated sprinkler. The sudden blast of water is enough to startle most small mammals and birds. Although it may take some time for animals to learn that the sound of the motion-activated sensor equals a bath, this method is still pretty effective.
Another option is the electronic repellent. These can take the form of noise-making devices or mild electric shocks. The noise-makers are usually in the form of a speaker that emits sounds of predators or other menacing animals. The electric shockers are just as they sound, rods that give out slight shocks when touched.
Although these do not cause pain to the animal, they are a startling sensation that most animals would rather avoid. These may not be the most pleasant solutions, but sometimes they are necessary. There are also natural repellents such as those using garlic or rosemary. These may work better for some people than others.
In addition to repellents, there are other ways of keeping predators out. Motion detector lights can help keep larger predators such as coyotes and stray dogs away. Some people have also had luck with placing loud radios outside to scare animals away.
If these options are not to your taste, you can also hire an expert to come and get the animals. Although this can be expensive, it is definitely the most surefire method. Another person you might want to contact is your local wildlife protection agency; they can tell you of any legal obligations that you may have towards the animals on your property and what you are allowed to do to deter them.
If you choose to take care of any wild animals that you may find on your property, be sure to check local listings for rules and regulations concerning wild animals.
Enjoy taking care of nature’s creatures?
There are many options for you!
The first option is that you could become a veterinarian. Veterinarians are medical professionals who specialize in treating animals. Most people do not realize how vast the career field of veterinarian is. Veterinarians can specialize in anything from small pets like cats and dogs to large livestock like horses and cows.
If you are interested in this as a career, your best bet would be to talk to your school counselor about what classes you will need to take in high school and in college in order for you to excel in this career field.
Sources & references used in this article:
Native Americans as active and passive promoters of mast and fruit trees in the eastern USA by MD Abrams, GJ Nowacki – The Holocene, 2008 – journals.sagepub.com
Domestication of trees or forests: Development pathways for fruit tree production in South-east Asia by KF Wiersum – Indigenous fruit trees in the tropics: domestication …, 2008 – books.google.com
from Apparently Healthy Peach Trees by WM Dowler, DJ Weaver – Phytopathology, 1975 – apsnet.org
Use of RAPD-PCR and ITS markers for identification of Diaporthe/Phomopsis from fruit trees in south-eastern Poland by B Abramczyk, E Król – Acta Scientiarum Polonorum, Hortorum …, 2016 – acta.media.pl
Dormancy in temperate fruit trees in a global warming context: a review by JA Campoy, D Ruiz, J Egea – Scientia Horticulturae, 2011 – Elsevier
A field guide to trees and shrubs: northeastern and north-central United States and southeastern and south-central Canada by GA Petrides – 1972 – books.google.com
Guava (Psidium guajava L.): an exotic tree fruit with potential in the southeastern United States by UL Yadava – HortScience, 1996 – journals.ashs.org