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  • Low maintenance fruit/berries for Zone 5/6

    I'd like to add some fruit trees or berries to my yard and I'd like them to be as low maintenance as possible. I really don't want to have to spray for pests or disease.

    I have a huge problem with winter moths in my area and I'm next to conservation land so I'm not allowed to spray anything toxic.

    As a result of the no spraying, I lost all my blueberries, crabapples and pears. The winter moths defoliated all of these multiple times a year for 2-3 years and they slowly died off.

    I was thinking maybe blackberries or raspberries.

    Any other suggestions?
    Kevin (Eastern MA - Zone 5b/6a)

  • #2
    Honeyberries? Low maintenance, cold hardy, early, neutral ph, self supporting bush, delicious. They are kind of ugly...like lumpy blueberries. Not sure how they hold up to moths.
    Don - OH Zone 6a Wish list: Verdolino, Black Celeste, Moro de Caneva

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  • #3
    I'm looking for the same thing. So far I know I want a persimmon tree and possible Asian pear.

    Comment


    • 71GTO
      71GTO commented
      Editing a comment
      I didn't know that, I had just read they didn't need to be sprayed. That might still be fine as long as
      I don't have to worrying about spraying.

    • Sarahkt
      Sarahkt commented
      Editing a comment
      Did you already have certain varieties in mind?

      If you want Hosui or Shinko scion next year to graft and help cross-pollinate, happy to send you some. Shinko is my favorite. I just grafted a couple Hosui scion on the tree to pollinate it. They seemed to accept grafts as easily as apples. Though it appears Shinko doesn't pollinate Hosui in return. I'll try to graft Shinseiki (self-pollinates, pollinates Hosui as well) onto the tree next year. Though currently have noticed a few aphids on the tree, and a lot more on a neighboring pluot. Don't know how prone these are to aphid infestations. The plums and pluots are getting insecticidal detergent spray tomorrow.

      http://www.burntridgenursery.com/tex...ationchart.pdf

      I also have a young Fuyu with Giant Fuyu grafted on this winter as well. It's been leafing and branching out really fast these last few weeks... it may not last long in a pot, it wants to get big.

    • 71GTO
      71GTO commented
      Editing a comment
      I haven't done much research on the Asian pears.My backyard situation is a mess. I have so many issues to address and I don't know when I'll be able to plant. As far as persimmons, I like the astringent type. I heard Asian varieties are better and usually stay smaller which I like, but they are not as cold hardy as American varieties.

  • #4
    Apricot I heard u don't have to spray... I have a jostaberry plant that's low maintenance

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    • fitzski
      fitzski commented
      Editing a comment
      More things I hadn't considered. More things to research.

  • #5
    What exactly do you mean by low maintenance? Plant and forget perhaps.

    I am currently growing apples, peaches, boysenberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, alpine strawberries, june bearing strawberries, everbearing strawberries and acai berries. To me none of them are low maintenance but the rewards are very very worth it.
    Garden Pics
    http://s117.photobucket.com/user/the...?sort=3&page=1

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    • fitzski
      fitzski commented
      Editing a comment
      Wow, that's quite a lot of fruit. A few I hadn't considered either.

      Thanks for sharing.

  • #6
    My number one suggestion would be red raspberries, especially primocane varieties. The season seems longer for primocanes than floricanes, and there are fewer bugs / mold in the late summer and fall. Plus you can just mow them to the ground every winter. FYI, I lived for 29 years right next to you in Sharon. I grew Heritage there, and loved it. Here in Bristol RI, where I moved 4 years ago, I've planted Polana and Caroline.

    Next I'd say blackberries. I'd go for a thorny upright variety because they are hardier than trailing varieties and don't need support. It can be a little tough finding a variety that is both tasty and hardy. I've got lllini, a floricane variety. It is hardy and bears like crazy. You need to thin it to prevent overbearing, which (in my experience) results in bitter fruit. I've also got the primocane PrimeJim. I did not cut it to the ground, and I got a bigger crop from the year-old canes than the new ones. Only a few of the primocanes ripened fruit. I may mow them next winter just to see if that speeds the ripening of the primocane fruit. I'm trying the thornless Primocane Prime Ark Freedom this year.

    Then I'd say black raspberries. The summer varieties seem to have a very short season. I have Jewel and MacBlack. But I also planted the new primocane variety Niwot. I got a small crop the same year. I'm expecting a very decent crop next fall.

    I'm growing all of these berries successfully without any spraying. All I need to do is prune -- one big pruning in winter, some small pinching in summer. In my current location, however, I need to keep the deer away. And birds. Some mulching is probably a good idea to retain moisture and suppress weeds.

    Three other ideas: I'm trying mulberries. Not enough actual experience to comment. I'm also trying gooseberries, and got a decent crop the 2nd year. But they seem to grow very slowly and may not be legal in MA. Finally, I have grown hardy kiwi. I had a vine in Sharon that produced a great crop every fall without ay attention other than pruning. But it is late and the season is short.

    One more longshot. In Sharon, I had a peach tree. It was there when I moved in. Once I got control of the borers attacking the trunk and stopped trying to control the stem borers, it produced great crops with nothing more than a severe pruning once a year. I don't know the variety. But I would recommend trying to find a variety that is resistant to the more common diseases. The worst problem I had was spotting on some of the leaves and fruit. Once during a drought, a woodchuck (yes!) climbed the tree to find something juicy to eat.

    Joe
    Joe, Z6B, RI.

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    • fitzski
      fitzski commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks, joe for all the information about the raspberries and blackberries.

      Do you remember what kind of hardy kiwi you had? I've heard you need two vines, a amle and female. Is that right?

      Have the winter moths hit your area yet?

  • #7
    My Asian pears and jujubes are pretty low maintenance. hardy kiwi, gooseberry, blackberry and raspberry are all easy to take care of. Persimmon no maintenance at all
    Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana
    Buffalo WV Z6

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    • fitzski
      fitzski commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks for sharing. That two for persimmon.

  • #8
    How about some paw paws and elderberries? Both of those have been pretty low maintenance for me.

    My raspberries and blackberries have also been relatively low maintenance, though last year I experienced the dreaded SWD. I started yanking berries out that ripened in the middle of SWD season or that I just couldn't get around to dutifully picking (and thus providing more fodder to increase the SWD population). If you've got SWD in your area, you might want to consider fruit that ripens when the fly population is less active.
    Johnny
    Stuff I grow: Google Doc

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    • fitzski
      fitzski commented
      Editing a comment
      i've thought about paw paws but I don't have a lot of land. I guess I could always plant them in the conservation land next to my house

    • jkuo
      jkuo commented
      Editing a comment
      That would be a brilliant idea! It's a native tree after all. I've thought about doing some guerrilla planting in the public park near me. There's a creek on the edge of the woods. I'm sure no one would mind if I just happened to plant some extra paw paws there...

    • don_sanders
      don_sanders commented
      Editing a comment
      I forgot about paw paws. I love those.

  • #9
    fitzski --

    We've had winter moths but not as severe, I believe, as you. I've seen moderate damage on crabapples and regular apples, but there a few apples trees in neighbor's yards that manage to produce decent fruits without spraying. I've thought about trying to make air layers of those trees. FWIW, I'm currently trying to grow Liberty and Enterprise here so that I can at least avoid spraying for diseases. I didn't suggest them for you because my apples in Sharon were severely afflicted each spring by moths and other pests. I got one awesome crop every 5 years.

    If I remember correctly, the Kiwi was Issai. I had planted two but one died early on. The remaining plant bore a decent crop without a male plant nearby. I ended up supposing that the variety is actually somewhat self-fertile. But there might have been much heavier crops with a mate. The bad news here is that the vine is very vigorous. Each one will require a large and sturdy arbor. If you don't have much room, forget it I think.

    Paw paw is a possible choice, but I have no experience. My brother-in-law has some young trees in GA. I could grow them here but the shelf-life seems short and I don't want to have to eat 50 pounds of fruit in two weeks. I'm not into preserving.

    Persimmons maybe. I planted Ichi-Ki-Kei-Jiro last year, as an experiment. It is reported to be only marginally hardy in Zone 6, and I wasn't sure it would make it. Nevertheless, mine seem to have survived their first winter here with temps down to -5F; but your area is probably 10 degrees worse. You could try a hardier American variety but they tend to grow bigger and ripen fruit in late autumn. I planted one American variety, but I imagine that I'll harvest whatever I can off the ground in freezing weather in November before the deer get at it. Or maybe I'll just harvest the deer. There's a low maintenance crop!
    Joe, Z6B, RI.

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