Advice needed - want to grow fruit and berries.


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Hey all! We moved to Coastal NC (Wilmington) a year ago and I would love to grow some berries and fruit. Our yard is small, but I do have the sides and the back of the house and we have woods in the back of the property and woods/nature path to our left, so I feel like I could get creative and use the space we have to grow delicious things. I'm hoping to put a sort of a Master Plan together of what I can plant where - and then start adding a few plants every year :) BUT... i have never grown neither fruit nor berries, so I hope you all can help me figure out what I can plant next to what and whether next to the house or next to the woods is best.

ok, conditions.. we are zone 9b, hot and humid. Pine trees everywhere, so ....acidic soil? Blueberries will love me? or am I wrong? The woods behind and to the left of the house and very much upright, so I feel i could plant things a few feet into the property line and they would get plenty of sun. The front of the house is south-facing and I'd like to save that for roses, azaleas and other flowers, but if i can sneak in some small berry bush, I'm all ears!

I'm posting pictures of the sides of the house and the back to give you an idea of what we are working with. If you want a detailed shot of anything, let me know and i'll be happy to post.

Here is my Dream List...can I make this work somehow?
- Blueberries
- Raspberries (yellow and red)
- Blackberries
- Strawberries
- Cherris (sweet ands sour)
- Figs
- Peaches
- What other fruit trees could we consider?

So.. now i need the help figuring out what I can plant next to what, what would look good on the sides of the house (definitely want to keep the clean lines as much as possible). I know we are nearing the too-late-to-plant-now-wait-till-fall time, but i hope i can sneak in a couple of the berry bushes in... another question-if any of these can be successfully grown in a container and then transplanted in the fall-do tell me! maybe i can grab a couple of them and have them in a pot all summer, while i put the map together:)

If you have a recommendation of a variety, I'd appreciate that, as well :)
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A couple more images... the left side of the house is next to a nature path that belongs to our little subdivision. Our property ends where the grass ends, right by those two pines. There’s some space here that maybe can be used to plan something? Thoughts?
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I hope you aren't landscaping your yard, planting fruit trees and berries, and tending all these new plants--we'd hate to lose a good member due to exhaustion! Take it slowly and figure out where and what you really want.
Blueberries ought to do well for you. Blackberries and raspberries tend to ramble and have to be pruned to keep bearing. Do not plant fruit trees close to your house as shown in the second photo above. Trees of any sort and houses do not like each other. Even the dwarf fruit trees still have a pretty good root system, which can wreak havoc with foundations.
Fig trees are messy. Some of the fruit falls off, rots, and attracts wasps, raccoons, and other wildlife. Why not substitute an apple tree or two. A crabapple tree pollinates most apples, and is pretty when in bloom. Besides, apples are easy to pick!
Let us know what you decide--this designing is fun, especially when I don't have to dig the holes!(y)
 
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I hope you aren't landscaping your yard, planting fruit trees and berries, and tending all these new plants--we'd hate to lose a good member due to exhaustion! Take it slowly and figure out where and what you really want.
Blueberries ought to do well for you. Blackberries and raspberries tend to ramble and have to be pruned to keep bearing. Do not plant fruit trees close to your house as shown in the second photo above. Trees of any sort and houses do not like each other. Even the dwarf fruit trees still have a pretty good root system, which can wreak havoc with foundations.
Fig trees are messy. Some of the fruit falls off, rots, and attracts wasps, raccoons, and other wildlife. Why not substitute an apple tree or two. A crabapple tree pollinates most apples, and is pretty when in bloom. Besides, apples are easy to pick!
Let us know what you decide--this designing is fun, especially when I don't have to dig the holes!(y)

Marlingardener, this kind of advice is exactly what I'm looking for! i know what i'd like to grow, but since i've never ever grown it, i have no idea what to put where... so thanks to you, now i know no fruit trees by the house-check. I only said Fig because I heard it does extremely well in NC... and i also heard that apples do not (the root rots or some such)-and in fact the nearest orchard is 5 hrs away, so that is telling. We would LOVE to grow apples, as we go through lbs and lbs every week as a family! Maybe i should look more into it and maybe I *can* grow apples here?

My main purpose for this thread is to work out the dos and don't and just put together a plan of where I want to plant what... then plant a couple new things every season :)

Ok, so......
Blackberries and raspberries....I do remember raspberries from my childhood (grandma's garden in Russia)- rambling and full of thorns. A mess. You are right, not very landscape worthy and certainly not very kid-friendly. ..maybe put those by the back of the property line?

What about cultivated cherry bushes? Would those be a good choice on the sides of the house or a bad site to plant?
 
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Pines as well as other coniferous trees used to surround the area I grow my fruit and berries. Even so, the ground turned out to be alkaline, and therefore Blueberries would not grow. I tried... Best idea is to get a reliable pH meter, and check.

As regards which fruit and berries to grow, why not choose the more expensive ones that are difficult to find? Aronias, Gooseberries, redcurrants, blackcurrants. Things like that. Not forgetting cherries, or even quince. They can be used for cotognata... :)
 
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Here is a site from the NC Agricultural Extension about growing apples in NC:
https://horticulture.ces.ncsu.edu/horticulture-fruits/horticulture-tree-fruits-nuts/apples/
Putting raspberries along the back if the property line (which, as I remember, backs onto a nature trail) would be a deterrent to trespassing on your yard, but would be awfully inviting for hikers to pick a few. There are thornless blackberry varieties which would be child-friendly.
Cherry trees need to be sprayed to prevent diseases and fruit drop. Again, here is an extension site that has more information:
https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/producing-tree-fruit-for-home-use

I do wish you the best gardens, and much success, so please don't think I'm trying to discourage you. I'm just trying to keep you from making the same mistakes I have made!
 
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Pines as well as other coniferous trees used to surround the area I grow my fruit and berries. Even so, the ground turned out to be alkaline, and therefore Blueberries would not grow. I tried... Best idea is to get a reliable pH meter, and check.

As regards which fruit and berries to grow, why not choose the more expensive ones that are difficult to find? Aronias, Gooseberries, redcurrants, blackcurrants. Things like that. Not forgetting cherries, or even quince. They can be used for cotognata... :)
Good point. I think I’ll get a kit and just test the soil.

I was really keen on growing gooseberries (pretty in a landscape, too), red and black currants, but it turns out those 3 berries are illegal to grow in NC- something about them being an alternative host for something that attacks pines... maybe I should double check if things have changed.

What is cotognata?

Cherries are high on my list-both sour (love to bake) and sweet (favorite fruit to eat, hands down). Can you comment more on cherries? Can I plant them along the sides of the house? Or better out back?
 
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I do wish you the best gardens, and much success, so please don't think I'm trying to discourage you. I'm just trying to keep you from making the same mistakes I have made!
I welcome all your thoughts! I don’t look at it as discouragement at all:) I came here asking for ALL advice to avoid making mistakes that will torture both my plants and me (and my wallet), so if I have the wrong idea, I need to know! So please keep telling me more!

A bit more about our subdivision. It’s only 20 houses and the land behind the house is ours with a open space they made into two birms, a retention pond and a small trail that loops around the pond (.33 mi total, so tiny). That nature trail is to the left of my house... so while yes, occasional person walks their dog on the trail, it doesn’t see a lot of traffic bc a) it’s rreally private property and b) our little street was built smack dab between other older subdivisions, so not a lot of people even know it exists.
So if i planted the berry bushes along the path lines, no doubt the neighborhood kids would help me clean the bushes, bc they all play together and roam the area, but I don’t mind that, if the bush will produce a lot of berries, especially:)

Do blackberries and raspberries need full sun or can it be part shade and afternoon sun? Or dappled shade from the pines above?
 
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Good point. I think I’ll get a kit and just test the soil.

I was really keen on growing gooseberries (pretty in a landscape, too), red and black currants, but it turns out those 3 berries are illegal to grow in NC- something about them being an alternative host for something that attacks pines... maybe I should double check if things have changed.

What is cotognata?

Cherries are high on my list-both sour (love to bake) and sweet (favorite fruit to eat, hands down). Can you comment more on cherries? Can I plant them along the sides of the house? Or better out back?

Cotognata is the italian version of membrillo. Simply, an easy to make jelly made from quince and sugar. Normally, I would put some goats cheese on a slice of toasted bread, then a slice of cotognata on top of that.

As for cherries. My experience is that the need plenty sunlight and well drained soil. So I would put them anywhere that is open and out of shade. If you want to keep the cherries, then you will need netting to protect them from the birds.
 
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A couple of comments-

Shade is going to be your enemy for almost anything you grow. Fruit trees that don’t receive adequate sunlight grow tall and spindly. The lack of adequate sunlight is bad on any vegetables also.

Checking the woods for Red Cedar trees. If you find some don’t bother planting apple, pear or other of the fruit trees because you will just get apple rust.

On the happy side-I would go out and buy a few terra cotta strawberry planters and some bare rooted strawberries. Fill the planters with a good grade of potting soil and plant the berries. These planters look good and I get loads of berries out of each container. They grow fast so it keeps you interested while the work continues.
 
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@Silentrunning, thanks for the comments! Understood about the sun. Looks like are sort of neighbors-I'm in Wilmington and you are 3 hours inland. How do i check to see if we have any Red Cedar trees? I guess i can ask the nursery people when i go later this week to talk to them in general.....

Now, let's talk strawberries! I have the grilling patio with all sorts of room for container gardening. I already decided i will grow Basil, Rosemary and a couple of other herbs in containers out there this summer, while i'm finding places for things. Strawberries would fit in beautifully! AND.... my husband is picking up woodworking as a hobby, so maybe i can find some simple plans for the wooden containers to plant strawberries in and he can build them for me! how fun :)
 
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Cotognata is the italian version of membrillo. Simply, an easy to make jelly made from quince and sugar. Normally, I would put some goats cheese on a slice of toasted bread, then a slice of cotognata on top of that.

As for cherries. My experience is that the need plenty sunlight and well drained soil. So I would put them anywhere that is open and out of shade. If you want to keep the cherries, then you will need netting to protect them from the birds.
Cotognata sounds very yummy! will look into quince :)

Cherries.... we have the sunlight and we are on the coast, so a lot of sand in the soil-i imagine that makes it pretty well drained? Are cherries generally pretty compact? Are there varieties that are more large a large bush or a small tree? if yes, would those be suitable to go on the side of the house at all, or too close to the foundation?
Also, on the care.. are they pretty fussy? a lot of constant care- spraying, etc? I feel that if it's a really high maintenance plant, as much as I want to say I'll do what is necessary, when the spring comes and we get busy with kids' sports, I just know i won't. So i wonder if it's the right plant for me, if its care is really involved...
 
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Cotognata sounds very yummy! will look into quince :)

Cherries.... we have the sunlight and we are on the coast, so a lot of sand in the soil-i imagine that makes it pretty well drained? Are cherries generally pretty compact? Are there varieties that are more large a large bush or a small tree? if yes, would those be suitable to go on the side of the house at all, or too close to the foundation?
Also, on the care.. are they pretty fussy? a lot of constant care- spraying, etc? I feel that if it's a really high maintenance plant, as much as I want to say I'll do what is necessary, when the spring comes and we get busy with kids' sports, I just know i won't. So i wonder if it's the right plant for me, if its care is really involved...

I've got sandy soil as well, but make sure to add lots of organic material. In dry spells, I will add a mulch around the base to keep them damp. The free draining soil is needed because the can suffer from root rot if the roots remain permanently wet.

As regards size. Thats just a matter of two things. Carefully choosing the variety, and pruning. Some varieties never seem to get higher than 6 or 8 feet, others 30 plus....

One comment regarding apples, pears and so on. Silentrunning is bang on regarding Cedar Apple Rust. I too would not have any if there were varieties of the juniper family close by. Having said that, some varieties of apple such as Red Delicious, Granny Smith, are supposed to be resistent. At least, according to "experts" they are.
 
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@Silentrunning, thanks for the comments! Understood about the sun. Looks like are sort of neighbors-I'm in Wilmington and you are 3 hours inland. How do i check to see if we have any Red Cedar trees? I guess i can ask the nursery people when i go later this week to talk to them in general.....

Now, let's talk strawberries! I have the grilling patio with all sorts of room for container gardening. I already decided i will grow Basil, Rosemary and a couple of other herbs in containers out there this summer, while i'm finding places for things. Strawberries would fit in beautifully! AND.... my husband is picking up woodworking as a hobby, so maybe i can find some simple plans for the wooden containers to plant strawberries in and he can build them for me! how fun :)

I consider strawberries to be like radishes are for kids. They grow fast, are good and keep your interest in gardening alive. Just don’t use pressure treated wood and your containers should be fine.
 
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The pine trees don’t necessarily indicate acidic soil. I would just work in some good, organic nutrients like manure, alfalfa meal, blood/bone meal, humid acid, and azomite or other mineral rock combos like zeolite.

Check your water’s ph and skip the ground. When you water it will change it anyhow and with enough organic matter you can overcome clay while changing the ph. Ideally you can target plants with a 6-7 ph, which is where almost every fruit/vegetable thrives.

Keep the food out of shade unless it can get at least 6-8 hours direct light. Flowers or other plants may love it though.
 
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I consider strawberries to be like radishes are for kids. They grow fast, are good and keep your interest in gardening alive. Just don’t use pressure treated wood and your containers should be fine.
Can you elaborate on why pressure-treated wood is bad for plants?
 
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The pine trees don’t necessarily indicate acidic soil. I would just work in some good, organic nutrients like manure, alfalfa meal, blood/bone meal, humid acid, and azomite or other mineral rock combos like zeolite.

Check your water’s ph and skip the ground. When you water it will change it anyhow and with enough organic matter you can overcome clay while changing the ph. Ideally you can target plants with a 6-7 ph, which is where almost every fruit/vegetable thrives.

Keep the food out of shade unless it can get at least 6-8 hours direct light. Flowers or other plants may love it though.
that's an interesting point about the water. Didn't even think of that. I was going to call the local Arboretum, bc my next door neighbor said they tested the soil for him for the last house for free! So if they do that indeed, i may do that :)
 
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Can you elaborate on why pressure-treated wood is bad for plants?

The toxins they use to repel insects, mold and funguses leach out of the wood and into the soil where they can be picked up by the vegetable roots. The chance of becoming ill from this is negligible but it’s not worth taking a chance.
 
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The toxins they use to repel insects, mold and funguses leach out of the wood and into the soil where they can be picked up by the vegetable roots. The chance of becoming ill from this is negligible but it’s not worth taking a chance.
Understood. Damon said the boxes are just cedar and the little legs are pressure-treated, but those are on the outside of the boxes and will have no contact with soil or plants. I did see those fairly inexpensive plastic terra cotta plants on amazon that would be good for strawberry plants. It’s plastic, which I technically abhorre, but it’s $34 and holds 24 plants.... so for now, I think that’ll do. Hopefully by the fall I will find space to put those plants in the garden and not kill them.
How long is the season for strawberries? Wondering if investing in 30+ strawberry plants is realistic right now if they only have one cluster of berries..
 
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Hey all, question.... we have wild blueberries here, they are everywhere... does that mean the soil is acidic....or not necessarily?

I’m heading to a nursery today and will be asking them, as well, but thought I’d throw it out here:)
 

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