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July 2018

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Five Fast Growing Fruit Trees (and One Nut)

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Five Fast Growing Fruit Trees (and One Nut)

Post by Guest on Sat Aug 16, 2014 4:18 pm

Five Fast Growing Fruit Trees (and One Nut)
July 30, 2014
Beans, Food Production, Permaculture Food Forest
Let’s face it: the great advantage to annual gardens is that they produce a yield quickly.
You can get leaf lettuce in a month, beans and peas in less than two months, and tomatoes, cabbage and peppers in three months.
When I give a talk on food forests, the idea of waiting years for fruit and nuts sometimes isn’t all that attractive to gardeners who are used to getting food inside of a single growing season.
I like getting food fast. I know all about impatience. When I was a kid gardening in my parents’ back yard, I didn’t plant any seeds that took longer than a week to germinate. No lie… I’d read the back of the seed packages to see how long they took to come up, then discard the varieties that germinated slowly. I also discarded anythign that took longer than a couple of months to produce.
Yes, I grew a lot of radishes… why do you ask?
The one long-term gardening investment I made was to plant a sprouting coconut I found at my Grandpop’s house. That coconut is now a 20′ tall tree… and my radishes are long, long-gone.
Fruit and nut trees are a long-term gardening investment. I wish I had planted many more as a kid, but I’m making up for it as an adult.
I still love the idea of quick yields, however I’ve gained a lot of patience as I’ve gotten older. I’ve started pecans from seed (estimated 10 years to the first yield), grown coffee trees from seed (3-6 months to germination, 3+ years before fruiting), planted citrus trees from seed (6-10 years until first fruit), etc.
If I move, I’ll leave many of these trees behind for someone else to enjoy in the future. If a little boy or girl in the future enjoys a fruit from a tree I planted, great! It was worth it.
Yet for those of us that are just getting started… who worry about food security in the near future… or who are just impatient… there has to be some fast-growing fruit trees and nut tree options, right?
Right. There are. Let’s take a look at a few fast growing fruit trees (and one fast growing nut tree) that will come through for you in record time.
Time it takes to bear from planting: 1-2 years
Figs are an easy-to-grow tree that loves a Mediterranean climate. Fortunately, for those many of us who do not have Mediterranean climates, many varieties of figs are highly adaptable.
When you plant a fig, you’re likely to get fruit within a year or two. You usually won’t get a LOT of figs until the tree reaches a good size; however, even getting a few is an encouraging treat. I’ve seen 1′ tall trees bearing fruit.
If you have cold winters, consider growing figs in large pots and pruning them up to increase the number of fruiting branches.
I started a pair of fig trees from cuttings and had them grow taller than me and bear a year and a half later. Great trees, and they’re easy to grow.
Time it takes to bear from planting: 1 year

Children adore mulberries.
My love for this tree is no secret. If you plant a grafted mulberry or one grown from a cutting, you’ll get fruit the next year. (If you grow them from seeds and it will take 8-10 years to bear – ouch!)
Not only will you get fruit the first year, you’ll likely get fruit in quantity in the second year. We harvested six gallons of delicious mulberries from our two-year-old “Illinois Everbearing” tree this spring. And that’s just what we counted. Our two-year-old son probably ate a gallon we didn’t count… plus the birds took their share as well.
This tree is a Godsend for berry-lovers with ADD.
Peaches and Nectarines
Time it takes to bear from planting: 1-3 years

Home-grown peach.
If you’re lucky, you can get fruit in two years if you grow a peach or nectarine FROM A PIT!
That’s unbelievable, ain’t it? But I did it, so I’m not repeating second-hand information.
If you buy a grafted tree and take good care of it, you can grow yourself a crate of fruit within a year or three.
There’s a fruit for the impatient!
Key Limes
Time it takes to bear from planting: 1-2 years

Photo credit Rachel Goodman
I know, you’re thinking “What? KEY LIMES? I don’t live in the Keys! I can’t grow those things!”
Well, you probably can’t grow them outdoors unless you live in zone 10 or zones 8-9 and have a good south-facing wall.
Fortunately, Key limes are small trees that bear well in pots and can subsist through a snowy winter if located by a sunny window or under grow lights.
From seed they take some time… but if the tree is grafted, you’ll usually get fruit within the first year.
Bonus: Key lime pie.
Black Cherries
Time it takes to bear from planting: 2-3 years

Photo credit
Though most of us would prefer to eat sweet cherries, they take a little longer to grow than their wild cousin Prunus serotina.
I planted a black cherry tree in my yard two years ago. It was 3′ tall. Now it’s about 20′ tall and bore a few handfuls of fruit this year.
Black cherries are bittersweet and make much better jams and liquers than they do a fresh nibble. They can also be hard to harvest because the trees tower high above your head. Don’t limp them up when they’re little and you’ll get more cherries within reach.
I used to harvest a few gallons of black cherries off my roughly 45-60′ tree in Tennessee. I’m hoping to one day have the same yields here.
Time it takes to bear from planting: 1-3 years

Photo credit
In the rush to buy almonds, walnuts and pecans, most of us forget this great tree. Don’t – it’s an impatient gardener’s nutty delight!
Nut trees usually take their sweet time producing. If you’re a long-term thinker, you might not mind waiting a decade for a handful of nuts… but if you’re like me, you want something to eat quickly!
If you plant a chestnut nut, it’s possible to get your first chestnuts in three years. That’s a precocious nut tree.
Plant a larger potted tree and you can get nuts within a year.
I planted a 2 6′ tall chestnuts in my yard this year, plus two 3′ tall trees. One of the 6′ trees has a chestnut growing on it right now.
One of the 3′ tall trees bloomed, as did both of the 6′ tall trees… and one of them came through for me.
You know what this means, of course? It means I’ll be planting the nuts that mature this fall… and three years from now, I’ll be getting nuts off those.
Note: My favorite chestnut tree is the Dunstan chestnut. It’s basically blight-proof and it also bears delicious nuts… and it bears fast.
Though it’s not as quick as growing sweet corn or mustard, you can grow these trees and get a quick yield. Take good care of your trees and they’ll grow faster than if you leave them to their own devices.
One you plant these fast growing fruit trees, consider adding in a few more trees that will take longer to bear. Trees like pecans, persimmons, pears, apples and plums might take a little (or a lot) longer, but they’re also totally worth it.
And you know, if you’re waiting for apples while you’re nibbling on mulberries, the time will pass faster than you think.
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