ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — We’re familiar with growing vegetables in your backyard garden but what about fruit trees?
For many, that sounds intimidating but Shawn Jadrnicek from Virginia Cooperative Extension is here to help us out with all the dirt on growing fruit trees at home!
“It’s important to select the correct fruit tree for your climate and geographical region,” says Jadrnicek. “For example, oranges and avocadoes are better in tropical climates and won’t survive our cold winters.”
You can log into the USDA plant hardiness finder website or call the extension office to find out what hardiness zone you live in and then choose an appropriate tree and variety for your zone.
Jadrnicek says it’s important to grow fruit trees that are pest and disease-resistant unless you want to spray them weekly to keep the trees healthy and productive.
Another thing to keep in mind is that some fruit trees require another partner tree to help pollinate and some are self-fertile and can produce fruit on their own.
Jadrnicek says the easiest fruit trees to grow in our area are the Asian and American persimmons. They don’t need to be sprayed, many are self-fertile and they require little to no pruning.
“The Asian persimmon is my favorite fruit by far when it comes to taste,” says Jadrnicek. “The scientific name of the tree is diospyros which translates from Greek to “divine fruit” and I would agree.”
Jadrnicek says the trees are smaller and provide a lot of landscape interest with yellow and red leaf colors in the fall as well as large orange fruits that hang on the tree like ornaments and rarely fall to the ground where they can make a mess.
As for American persimmons, Jadrnicek says they are much smaller and only come in one type of astringent. “The flavor reminds me of apricots,” says Jadrnicek. “With astringent persimmons, they must be eaten when they are fully soft otherwise you will have a horrible experience that puckers your mouth.”
Asian persimmons come in astringent and non-astringent varieties and are much larger. Jadrnicek say the non-astringent varieties can be eaten hard like an apple or when soft so you have more options and two separate flavor profiles. When hard, Jadrnicek says the flavor is mellow like a cantaloupe but crisp and when soft they’re sweeter more like maple syrup pudding.