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Easiest fruit tree for NE Illinois that grows like a weed?

 
Kayla Wildflower
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Location: North Central Florida 8b
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I just planted a food forest in Gainesville, Florida, and would like to share the joy of fruit growing with my 9-year-old niece and 11-year-old nephew in DuPage County, IL, near Chicago.

I want to send them a fruit tree to plant. What will grow easily organically, with no need for cross pollination, and that will bear soon enough for these children to appreciate homegrown fruit?

Here in North Florida loquats, kumquats, figs and mulberries will grow and produce quickly with little attention. In fact, you could have figs growing in your backyard before you notice you have a fig "tree!"

What is there like that? I'm afraid their parents will not be much help, besides the initial planting. On top of all that, their yard is not large and it's pretty shady! Thanks in advance!
 
Mike Cantrell
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Location: Mid-Michigan
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Neat idea, I like it.

Southern Michigan is not so far from NE IL, so I'm going to assume what works here will work there.

Mulberries would probably be my first pick. They grow wild, kids love them, seems like a winner.

This is a real good climate for apples, so that might be plan B.

After that? Hard to say. Good luck!
 
Troy Rhodes
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The Methley plum. Nothing stops it. Here in S. michigan, we had a couple of very cold winters that nearly killed my peach trees. The plum didn't even notice.

I have never failed to get a crop. It should start producing in the 3rd year, especially if you get one of the bigger trees.

It never has fungal problems.

It's self fertile, so no need for a pollenator, and it is an excellent pollenator for many other varieties of plums.

Not too big, not too small, pretty blossoms, bugs don't bother it. The japanese beetles eat some of the leaves, it just bounces right back.

Widely available. Not expensive. Breeds ~true from seed, so that's fun as all get out.



 
John Wolfram
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Location: Lafayette, Indiana
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I'd go with a peach or plum, and stay away from pears and apples. The nice thing about peaches and plums is that they become ripe when it's hot out, and decompose quickly when they hit the ground. That means eight years from now, your brother/sister won't hate you because their lawn looks terrible due to the rotting apples on the ground for the whole month of October.
 
Kayla Wildflower
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Location: North Central Florida 8b
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Thanks for all your great input! The DuPage County Cooperative Extension suggested apples, peaches and plums and sent links, but they seemed like a lot of trouble. For instance, they said without pesticides, etc, up to 98% of the apple crop will go to pests and animals! Someone else mentioned needing to net peaches. I am leaning toward mulberries right now, because they seem so easy and relatively pest-free. Birds love them, but reportedly there's enough for birds and humans to share. Someone else mentioned serviceberry. I will have to look into that and Methley plum.

Regarding mulberries, I've been hearing great things about Black Beauty - best tasting berries and smallish tree. Can anyone confirm, deny, or recommend an alternate mulberry? Will it do ok in a somewhat shady yard? Also, my initial search shows a lot of places have stopped shipping mulberries because presumably they have to be shipped dormant and it's too late. Does anyone know any workarounds or if there's any place still shipping? Up until a couple of weeks ago, my brother said the ground was still too cold to plant, so it didn't occur to me to hurry!

Thanks, y'all!
 
Troy Rhodes
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Also note that many fruit trees require a certain minimum of chill hours, which you might not get in florida.

Methley plum is still on your list though. It has a low requirement for chill hours.


troy
 
Crt Jakhel
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Location: NE Slovenia, zone 6a
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Serviceberry sounds like a good idea, yes. It might however not be to everyone's taste. The very small seeds, usually eaten together with the rest of the fruit, have a slight flavor like marzipan... Which means somewhat almondy. On the definite plus side - early flowering, very pretty blossoms.

Mulberries are great in resiliency and taste but if there's a possiblity of someone getting annoyed by their whatever getting stained from the falling fruit -- in that case black mulberry is a bad move. (Mulberry fruit is awesome in the fields of dropping freely and leaving stains. Serviceberry would stain but doesn't really drop so not a problem.)
 
Kayla Wildflower
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Location: North Central Florida 8b
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Troy Rhodes wrote:Also note that many fruit trees require a certain minimum of chill hours, which you might not get in florida.

Methley plum is still on your list though. It has a low requirement for chill hours.


troy


Troy, I'm looking for a tree for my niece and nephew in DuPage County, IL, zone 5a.
 
Troy Rhodes
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Oh yeah, plenty of chilling there...


 
Lee Holland
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I figure it's too late for this info, but I'll post it just in case.

I live in Dupage county and grow fruit.  I would only plant a mulberry if it can be planted at the back of the yard, away from sidewalks and driveways.  An Illinois everbearing is great.  The fruit is excellent, and bears fruit for months, but it's messy.  But they bear like crazy.  I love them.  Really only for fresh eating. But it grows into a big tree.  I really love the taste of mulberries.  If you want a fruit tree that grows like a weed this is it.

Serviceberries are great trees because they are ornamental as well as delicious, and can fit into the landscape easily.  They aren't as messy as mulberries either. They bear lots of delicious fruit.   Different varieties have different branching habits.  If you want the kids to be able to reach the fruit don't ever prune the lower branches.

There are some apple varieties that are very disease resistant that would do well, like a liberty Apple.  A semi dwarf rootstock, such as G935 would keep it around 10'. But It would need a stake at planting to support it as it grows (like a metal fence stake).  It's really a no spray Apple. There are some other varieties, but liberty is widely available.  Of course you can plant it on a standard rootstock, no staking required and the kids will enjoy climbing the tree when it's mature. (Apple trees are great for climbing). But again, it will become a big tree.  And apples do really well here & live forever.

A Montmorency cherry is an old standard sour cherry tree.  Yes they can get a tiny white worm by the pit, but really, old timers didn't care.  They ate the cherry with the worm!  Doesn't hurt anybody, just more protein.  As kids we would pick a bowl of cherries, sprinkle some sugar on them & pour a little cream over & dig in.  I have a good memory of all of us kids sitting under the tree with our bowls eating.  We spit out the pits.

If the yard allows, you could plant a patch of black raspberries in a back corner and let them grow wild.  They like sun until the hot part of the day around here and loamy soil (like the edge of a woodland facing east).  The kids will just learn to stomp right in among the brambles and eat.  They are probably the most delicious fruit I eat.  But if you buy them, get around 25 plants. Otherwise you'll be waiting years for a decent patch.

Hope this helps.  Remember, a bigger tree means more fruit.  Enough for the birds, squirrels and kids.  Nothing worse than waiting for a few precious fruit to ripen only to be plucked at its peak by an animal.  But like the previous poster said, big fruit will need to be picked up.
 
Todd Parr
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I love my mulberry trees.  I would go with that or one of the improved autumn olive trees.  I have several varieties and all taste great.
 
Casie Becker
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Lee Holland wrote:I figure it's too late for this info, but I'll post it just in case.

If the yard allows, you could plant a patch of black raspberries in a back corner and let them grow wild.  They like sun until the hot part of the day around here and loamy soil (like the edge of a woodland facing east).  The kids will just learn to stomp right in among the brambles and eat.  They are probably the most delicious fruit I eat.  But if you buy them, get around 25 plants. Otherwise you'll be waiting years for a decent patch.



It may not help the original poster, but I found useful information here. I'm just about done planting trees and will soon start focusing more on the shrub layer. One of the things I have tentatively planned is a row of raspberries and/or black berries on the property line. I will keep this information in mind when I plant any cane fruits. You probably just saved me several years of frustration with tiny harvests.
 
Bryan de Valdivia
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Casie Becker wrote: It may not help the original poster, but I found useful information here .... You probably just saved me several years of frustration with tiny harvests.

Ditto, thanks Lee!
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