Jack Kerrigan and Margaret Nagel, Ohio State University
Growing fruit provides fresh, flavorful produce not readily available in the supermarket. Fruit plantings also add to the beauty of the home landscape. Homegrown fruits are ingredients in some of the most flavorful desserts, jams, jellies, wines, and juices. Fruit cultivar recommendations are based on local soil and climate conditions. Other cultivars may produce satisfactory results. However, all fruit crops require considerable commitment of time and money. It is wise to begin with proven cultivars.
The successful home fruit grower follows the best management practices throughout the year. A schedule of regular pruning, fertilizing, watering, and pest control is necessary for maximum quality and quantity. Because the commercial grower cannot take risks with an entire crop, chemical spray schedules are followed. The home fruit grower must decide if spraying is warranted to prevent possible insect and disease problems. An understanding of integrated pest management will help the grower in controlling these problems.
Wildlife find fruit as appealing as the home gardener. Controlling these pests will be a challenge to the fruit grower. Netting is one of the most effective methods of protecting the harvest from birds. Rodents, deer, and other animal pests may require additional efforts.
Crop pollination is essential to fruit production. Most fruits are pollinated by insects, with bees and wasps being the most common pollinators. Improper timing and use of insecticides, such as Sevin, is lethal to bees. Weigh the benefits of the use of these insecticides against potential loss of pollinators and beneficial insects.