AUBURN, Alabama— With summer on the way, fruits are a perfect snack. Growing your own fruits at home can be a way to make them more easily available and less costly.
Blueberries are easy to grow at home because they are very low maintenance. There are many different types of blueberries that include: Northern highbush, Southern highbush, Rabbiteye, and Lowbush.
Alabama Extension regional agent Doug Chapman said that Rabbiteye blueberries are best for gardening in Alabama. “Since Rabbiteye blueberries are native to the Southeast, they are adapted to our growing conditions.”
Assuming the soil conditions and the amount of available sunlight are adequate, blueberries can be incorporated almost anywhere. In addition to summer fruits, the blueberry plant is attractive almost year round. It is adorned in spring with white bell-shaped flowers and vibrant red foliage in the fall.
One attribute that makes blueberries fairly easy to grow is that they usually do not have issues with insect pests.
To achieve maximum fruit production, full sun is best when growing blueberries. A small amount of filtered shade, such as under pine trees, can be tolerated, but may result reduced fruit production.
If the soil conditions are not right, blueberries can also be grown in containers with potting mix.
Alabama summers are ideal for growing figs, which are native to hot climates in the Middle East. Figs can be grown in the ground or in pots.
Fig trees should be planted in late winter and early spring. For best growth, fig trees need full sunlight and freedom from competing trees and shrubs. If fig trees are planted in a lawn area remember to keep at least a 3 foot area around each tree free of grass and covered with 3 to 4 inches of mulch.
To keep them producing, they should be pruned before growth begins each spring.
Figs can also be successfully grown in containers if the grower is diligent about watering and feeding them. The easiest approach is to use at least a 15 gallon container and let the fig tree grow 5 to 10 feet tall. To control the plant size, the tops and roots should be pruned annually.
A good tip for harvesting figs is that once they are picked they will not ripen. They must be ripe when picked.
Nectarine trees have proven to grow well in Alabama climates as well, according to Dr. Arlie A. Powell, a retired Alabama Extension fruit specialist.
Armking are often grown and are successful in southern climates. However, the overall quality of Armking nectarines are lessening.
Karla Rose is a popular variety for home growing, however, gardeners must pay attention to the bacterial spotting problems they have.
Plums have been grown in the Southeast for a long time.
“In Alabama, plums are primarily grown as a secondary crop by peach producers, especially in the central Alabama area and in portions of some more northern counties. Culturally, plums have similar requirements to peaches, including rootstocks, training/pruning, pest management, fertility, water requirements and harvesting,” said Dr. Powell.
Home gardeners often choose to plant the Japanese plum but there are other varieties. Some of these include: AU-Cherry, AU-Roadside, AU-Rosa, AU-Rubrum, Crimson, Homeside, Byrongold, Robusto (suitable only as green plum), Morris, Ruby Sweet and Black Ruby.
Auburn University runs an active breeding program through the USDA Fruit and Nut Lab at Byron, Georgia and is still searching for the perfect varieties to be grown in Alabama.
Blueberries, figs, nectarines and plums are just a few options to start or add to an Alabama home garden. These types of fruits are the types that are more likely to be successful in Alabama’s climate.
Blueberry photo by Prof foto 101/Shutterstock.com
Fig photo by Andrey Starostin/Shutterstock.com
Featured image by Passakorn Umpornmaha/Shutterstock.com