When you think of growing edibles in small spaces, chances are you think of green beans, herbs, and tomatoes. You think of all the vegetables that you can line along your patio or back porch, but you might not think about how to grow fruit in small spaces.
The idea of walking along in your own fruit orchard might conjure beautiful thoughts, but most of us lack the space to make that happen. Lack of space doesn’t mean you can’t grow fruit. Most fruit trees can grow up walls, or they came in miniature forms. Even the smallest of gardens have space to grow a bit of fruit each year.
So, when you start to dream about what you can grow in your small space, don’t think fruits aren’t an option. A few steps are required to have homegrown fruit. First, you need to decide which fruits you can grow and where you want to put the plants. After that, gardeners need to learn how to properly care for fruit plants.
Sound easy enough? It is! Keep reading to learn more.
6 Fruits You Can Grow in Small Spaces
Most fruit can be grown in small spaces, but you might have to look for dwarf varieties or ones adapt to less space. Your first step when you decide that you want to undergo growing fruit is picking the right fruit. Start off with fruit that you already eat, such as apples. It’ll make you feel accomplished when you can cross that fruit off the grocery list. Then, move onto fruit you don’t eat as often but would enjoy.
1. Small Fruit Trees
When we think of fruit trees, we think of massive trees that take years to grow and produce fruits. While you can go that route, it’s not a good choice if you lack space. Instead, you want to look for small fruit trees, often called dwarf trees, which were grafted and naturally cultivated into small trees, yet they create big yields.
There are several choices for small fruit trees, such as:
Dwarf fruit trees are your best friend in small spaces. These trees don’t require much pruning because of their small size, and they produce fruit in under two years. No more waiting for 5 years for fresh apples. The fruits are the same size as a regular fruit tree. Harvesting is a breeze; no need for ladders!
2. Vining Fruits
Vertical growing is popular right now, as more and more people desire to grow their own food. If you have limited space, vining plants, whether it’s vegetables or fruits, are some of the best choices. Vertical gardening makes a lot of sense, taking advantage of walls is a smart idea.
You have plenty of options for vining fruits, such as:
- Passion fruits
Now, if you live in a really cold climate, such as Canada or Maine, you will have to look for varieties that are best adjusted to those temperatures. Passion fruits, on the other hand, don’t handle frost at all, so those will need to either be grown in backyards that are in warmer climates or be brought inside during those cold times.
3. Citrus Fruits
You might be surprised to learn this, but citrus fruits are the easiest of all fruit trees to grow in containers. Now, they sell dwarf citrus trees as well. You probably never realized the citrus is a possibility for your patio or house, but it is, especially in the right environment.
Something to remember is that the smaller fruit the fruit, the better it does in containers. Fruits such as Meyer lemons, Satsuma mandarins, and kumquats are great for pots, but you can prune any citrus fruit tree to be smaller. You can even graft onto a rootstock.
Berries are the first fruit that many gardeners try to grow. They’re quite easy, with unique flavors and textures. Berries are full of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and all kinds of goodies for your health. Plus, you have plenty of options to grow in small spaces:
These plants provide great yield, but berries are seasonal. Some strawberries are ever-bearers, so they’ll provide multiple harvests throughout the year. You’ll have plenty of jams, snacks, fruit leathers, and more.
Did you know that pineapples are one of the easiest fruits that you can grow? They’re tropical, but they can grow indoors near a sunny window, and pineapples don’t mind being placed into pots.
The only issue is that pineapples take a long time to grow to yield one frit – over two years. So, unless you live in a region like Thailand, growing pineapples is best just done as a hobby rather than trying to grow enough fruit to supply your family. However, it’s pretty cool to grow pineapples.
Melons can be grown in containers quite easily. Honeydew, melons, cantaloupes, and watermelons are all possible. These are, technically, spreading vines, but we can train them to grow up fences, trellised walls, or wire cages. Melons can grow up arches and stakes.
Unlike the other options, melons aren’t perennials, so they need to be planted each year. The good thing is that melon seeds are free. Each melon has dozens of seeds, so being able to plant the next year shouldn’t be a problem.
Ways to Grow Fruit in Small Spaces
Now that you have an idea about the different types of fruits you can grow in your space, you have to think about the different ways to grow fruit in small spaces. You have a few choices, so let’s take a look.
Grow in Containers
Most fruit does well in containers, especially if you live in an area that has frost. Tender plants, such as lemons, need to be brought inside when it starts to frost.
Containers work well for fruits because growth is restricted. The roots are only able to grow so deep, which sends the right of the energy into fruit production. The plants are unable to reach their typical size.
Grow Up Walls
If you’re growing dwarf trees, you can train them to grow up walls, trellises, and other parts of your garden. You have to coax them into the shapes that you need to save space and encourage fruiting. The other option is to buy ready-formed or train them yourself.
A fan shape is popular for peaches, apricots, and cherries. Apples and pears prefer an espalier shape, but you need to have a sizable wall for either shape.
For small spaces, the best recommendation is to grow in cordons, which is a tree that is trained into a single stem and bent at 45 degrees. Cordons are usually done in sequences.
Use Edible Arches
Arches, sometimes called arbors, are a great way to make a shady area in your garden or a beautiful archway covered in vines and fruit. You can train fruit such as thornless blackberries – do you really want your scalp to be scratched each time you walk under the arch?
Other options that you can grow up arches include kiwi fruit, grapes, and strawberries.
Another smart idea is to use the borders of your property for plants. You can plan bush fruits, like gooseberries and blackcurrants, along with flower borders. Apple or pear trees can create a small hedge to create a divider or a barrier
6 Tips to Grow Fruit
Now, you have your fruit and you have where you want it to grow. You might pick several of these methods, such as creating a few edible arches and using containers on your patio. Don’t feel limited.
Growing fruit can be a bit tricky. They don’t always have the same nutrient requirements as vegetables, and you do have to spend more time pruning fruit trees and bushes. Here are a few tips to get you started!
1. Learn How to Prune
Vegetable plants require little to no sunlight, but fruit plants need to be pruned. Prune fruit bushes and trees at the right time, correctly, will keep the plants small while encouraging a bountiful harvest. It’s quite important for you to take the time to learn how to prune each of the plants you’re growing. Otherwise, you risk having a lousy harvest.
2. Fruit Needs Plenty of Sun
Most fruit plants require a sunny location, especially citrus fruits and anything that is a subtropical or tropical fruit. If your garden is partly shady, you can try fruit such as blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, gooseberries, apples, and rhubarb. Don’t try to grow tender fruits, like kiwi or mandarins.
3. Stake Your Young Trees
Young trees have shallow roots, which means it’s vulnerable to damage caused by heavy winds. A windy can could uproot your brand new tree. So, you need to keep it securely staked for at least the first few years.
Staking a tree is easy. Just put two wooden stakes into the ground on opposite sides of the trunk. Use tree ties or elastic material to wrap a figure eight loop between the trunk and stakes. You want the ties to be tight but loose enough that the tree bends a bit with the wind. It needs space to grow as well.
4. Use the Right Container
If you decide to go with container planting, make sure you have the right container. A 15-gallon container is large enough for most dwarf fruit trees, but it’s small enough that you can move it on your own. Fiber pots are the best choice because they’re lightweight, won’t overheat in the sun as do plastic pots, and provide plenty of air circulation for the roots.
5. Think about Pollination
Fruit trees often need pollinators, such as bees, bats, or other beneficial insects, to fertilize flowers and help ‘set’ the fruit. Other fruit trees require you to have more than one tree to cross-pollinate. This can be an issue if you want a variety of fruit trees in a small space or only have space for one. No pollination equals no fruit, and that would be a bummer.
So, your solution is to look for fruit trees that are labeled ‘self-fertile’ or ‘self-pollinating.’ It should be on the description or tag of the tree. You might look for self-fertile citrus, figs, peaches, nectarines, or apricots. Also, multi-grafted trees, such as mandarins and lemons on one tree, are usually self-fertile.
6. Use the Right Soil
You don’t want to go outside and dig up soil to use in your pots. That’s a bad idea. It holds too much water and you’ll transmit diseases and pests. Instead, look for a bagged potting soil and use some amendments, such as peat or coir, vermiculite, and mature compost.
Growing Fruit in Small Spaces
No matter if you just have a balcony or a small backyard, growing fruit is always a possibility. By selecting the right fruit to grow – which should be things you eat on a regular basis – and picking how you want to grow them, you’ll have a bountiful harvest, enough to impress your friends and family!