By Greg Peterson, The Urban Farm
Did you know that you can grow apples, apricots, peaches and plums here in the low desert? There is a huge caveat however…you have to purchase the climate-appropriate variety of fruit for our area. I have been teaching about how to successfully grow fruit in the desert for over 30 years and a few years ago discovered that you can go into every big box store and some local nurseries and they will sell you a fruit tree that never makes fruit here on the Valley. The sad part is that often they know that is the case, and that makes me mad!
So, what is climate appropriate? There are three things that your new tree needs to qualify under for you to hit your jackpot of fruit in just three years.
- First, you need to select a low-chill variety. In the low desert, we get about 350 hours of chill, planting a fruit tree that requires more than that amount of cold will pretty much assure that you won’t reap any harvest.
- Second, you need to make sure that you are purchasing your new tree on the desert appropriate root stock. Most fruit trees are grafted these days, which means that your new fruit tree is attached to a set of roots that will rock the desert soil.
- Third, with soft flesh fruit like berries, grapes, apples, apricots, peaches and plums, you need to select a variety that is ripe and harvested before July 1. I have found over the past four decades that any fruit that stays on the tree after that is just struggling to stay alive in the severe heat.
If all this sounds like a little too much to take in over the course of 300 words, I have the perfect solution for you. Through The Urban Farm Fruit Tree Education Program, every fall we offer free online and, COVID permitting, in-person classes, starting with our online Fruit Tree Extravaganza Sept. 12 where we will teach this and so much more about how to have your newly planted fruit trees thrive. Visit fruittrees.org to sign up for any of our great events and to discover your perfect fruit tree.