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Anyone Bought Fruit Trees from Arbor Day Foundation?

 
Kris Mendoza
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Location: New England USA, Zone 7a
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First-time fruit grower here. I have only ever grown melons and raspberries. I don't have a lot of extra funds, but I want to start growing more fruits along with our veggie gardens.

Has anyone bought fruit trees from the Arbor Day foundation? Were you happy with the quality? We are looking to get a few pears going, as well as raspberries/loganberries, grapes, blueberries... looking through all the beautiful trees at Oikos and Stark Bros is fun but ordering from these guys could easily put me back at least a few hundred dollars!

Arbor Day Foundation has a more limited selection, but I could pay $10 for 10 redbud trees, say, and even if I give half of those to friends I could still get the member discount to use on my fruit tree purchases, which would mean 4' bare root bartlet pear trees for $13 instead of Stark Bros' $18... highbush blueberries for $13 instead of Stark Bros' $18... Grapes for $9 rather than $13... am I missing something, or is this a really good deal?

Would love to hear what some folks' experiences have been.

Thank you!
Kris
 
John Polk
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Personally, I have never dealt with them, but
I know several people who have, and they all complained.

Either poor quality trees, or wrong species.

I'm guessing that they either use inexperienced volunteers, or minimum wage workers.
They either don't know better, or don't care.
 
Miles Flansburg
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Have you looked in to the trees that your local conservation district sells?
 
Rick English
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I have bought lots of trees from them over the past 15 years. You will get tiny little twigs that generally don't suffer much transplant shock. I have several times seen these twigs outgrow much larger bareroot trees from other sources. The biggest negative with the tiny little twigs is that you need to protect them from varmints that like to eat tiny little twigs. The larger bareroot trees seems to weather varmints better without protection.

If you are looking for bulk, the price for a member is not bad. I also like that the tiny little twigs are often not pruned before you get them if you are looking for more natural fruit trees that don't need to be pruned for ever and ever. My guess is that they save you a year from growing the trees from seed, but they are generally a few years younger that most other bareroot trees you buy online.

I can't really give them an unconditional endorsement, but I also can't say they are terrible for the price. You can buy an apple trees for $5 vs. $30+ from other places. What you get is drastically different, but so is the price. There are pros and cons to both approaches.

If you are looking for cheap bareoot trees, I have had similar luck with Musser Forests. They have the cheapest paw paws and persimmons that I have seen, though I have not ordered those from them yet.
 
Kris Mendoza
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Location: New England USA, Zone 7a
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Thanks, everyone. It seems you do get what you pay for...

Miles, THANK YOU for pointing me in the direction of my conservation district. They don't sell fruit trees, but wow, there is a manure share database! Free horse poop & used bedding is really exciting since I am planning to turn my raised beds into hugels in the spring.

Lazlo, I am an urban gardener and space is going to limit me to 2 or 3 espaliered pear trees, grapes along the fence, etc. so my impatient side is probably going to win out and I will buy some bigger trees. Musser Forests prices are very good! I have been trying to figure out how pawpaws and spicebush might fit into my plans...

Gracias all.
 
Alice Tagloff
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Location: Newfoundland
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If space is limited, you might want to network with a couple other people near you to go in on bundles.
Most tree nurseries offer 'collections', that hover between $100-200, that offers a collection of selected trees. So you get a bundle between 5-8(on average) of something or other.
There's also Combination Trees. Some nurseries offer rootstock with multiple things rooted onto them. Which is kind of like putting all your eggs in one basket, if the tree falters or dies, then you loose everything, but if it thrives, you get multiple kinds of fruit from the same tree. This is a lot more work, and thus they can be fairly expensive.

http://www.raintreenursery.com/APPls/
Offers apple and plum trees with at least 3 different kinds of stock on them, fairly reasonable for 35-40 plus shipping.
They also offer a collection bundle of different fruiting things and vines, and trees meant for Fence pruning & Espaliers (50-70$), a lot of them as combination trees.

https://www.rollingrivernursery.com/
Offers bundles & collections too, tho they sell out quickly.

http://www.4seasonsnurseries.com/ out of IL sells some fairly unique things too. Like a 5x1 dwarf apple tree for only $30.

Then there's some university and state run tree nurseries, that generally ship sapplings of all sorts of things but usually 'native' trees and shrubs.
https://seedlings.uidaho.com/ The University of Idaho, generally around $2.50 each, in bundles of minimum of 5, rootstocks about a 6" - 1' tall.
http://csfs.colostate.edu/buying-seedling-trees/ Colorado State Forestry, tho they don't mention a price, sells by bundles, pots & trays.
https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/ndfs/programs-and-services/purchasing-conservation-trees-towner-state-nursery North Dakota Forestry, they don't have an edibles but evergreens etc for reforestation, etc.
http://www.dof.virginia.gov/shop/index.htm Virgina Department of Forestry, much the same thing.

http://plantinfo.umn.edu/ isn't a seller, but it's a database that lets you search for specific plants, or just for specific nurseries.
http://davesgarden.com/products/ps/ will also search for a specific plant, then give you a link to the sellers page(purchase), or a link to info about the seller. They maintain a database with a user-reported opinion/recommendation of the sellers.





 
Sunshine Thiry
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Location: Michigan
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I bought trees from the Arbor Day foundation last year. Almost none of them survived. They were extremely small, some of them barely even twigs, and some of them appeared already to be dead when they arrived. The quality was extremely poor. If I want to save money, what I usually do is wait to plant my trees until the end of August. Places like Stark Brothers start to clearance out many of their fruit trees at that time. Of course, the selection is not as good then, but the prices are often 50% less than in the spring.
 
Casie Becker
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Sunshine Thiry wrote: I bought trees from the Arbor Day foundation last year. Almost none of them survived. They were extremely small, some of them barely even twigs, and some of them appeared already to be dead when they arrived. The quality was extremely poor. If I want to save money, what I usually do is wait to plant my trees until the end of August. Places like Stark Brothers start to clearance out many of their fruit trees at that time. Of course, the selection is not as good then, but the prices are often 50% less than in the spring.


It might be worth noting that in the south we are highly encouraged to do our tree and shrub planting in the fall. As long as the ground isn't frozen the tree continues to develop it's root structure. In our case we're trying to have a strong root system before the trees deal with our prohibitively hot summers. I don't really know what circumstance as strong root system wouldn't be a benefit in. If there are any nurseries in your area with a good reputation (think independent growers rather than big box stores) they probably have staff that can confirm if this is also a good practice in your climate.

I've also had good results with buying small trees/shrubs or bare root and keeping them in an appropriately sized planter for a season of extra tender care before I throw them out into the harsher conditions of the yard.
 
Kris Mendoza
Posts: 59
Location: New England USA, Zone 7a
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So much good advice. Thank you all. I'm dreaming of my fruit harvest, though it may be a few years away!

We bit the bullet and bought some bare root trees from Stark Bros. I'm planning to use this article as my guide for pruning: http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/gardening-techniques/small-fruit-trees-zm0z15onzdel.aspx

Better to have quality trees to start with, right? Even if we don't have as many. We decided on a bartlett pear, an asian pear, a hardy fig, and one of their bundles of blueberry bushes. I am planning on putting the blueberries in a small hugel we're going to make over dead stumps in the front yard, with clover and yarrow, and strawberries transplanted from my existing bed. Any advice on good companions for the pears and fig? I'd prefer inexpensive perennials I can grow from seed or transplant from elsewhere. Some perennials I already have growing around the yard that could be transplanted include yarrow, strawberries, columbine, solomon's seal, daylilies, and various mints/herbs/chives.

Sunshine, buying trees at the end of the season had not occurred to me--but I am certainly happy to take advantage of deals. Are there any special considerations when planting a fruit tree or shrub in the late summer or fall? I'm in New England. Everything I read suggests planting in late winter/early spring...
 
Aaron Barkel
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I have bought from them with mixed results. The trees are all very small and take several years to develop; however, I believe in their root cause (pardon the pun ) and will continue to support them. If you are looking for a quick harvest, this is definitely not your best place to buy, but if you believe in supporting an environmentally friendly cause, I encourage you to support them. They receive 4 out of 5 stars on the charity group watch dog sites
 
Sunshine Thiry
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Location: Michigan
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<blockquote>Sunshine, buying trees at the end of the season had not occurred to me--but I am certainly happy to take advantage of deals. Are there any special considerations when planting a fruit tree or shrub in the late summer or fall? I'm in New England. Everything I read suggests planting in late winter/early spring...</blockquote>

I'm in Michigan, and I have yet to lose a fall-planted tree. All that I do is mulch very heavily around them with grass clippings and shredded leaves. You can even go to a big box store like Lowes or Home Depot at the end of September and find some outrageous deals on many different kinds of leftover trees. They will look a bit ragged, but they're usually only a few dollars. That frees up money to spend on other kinds of plants from small local nurseries that will be a bit more expensive.

For your blueberries, remember that they need acidic soil. You may need to add some peat moss and coffee grounds around them. I found this article on using hugelkultur to grow blueberry bushes:
http://midwestpermaculture.ning.com/m/group/discussion?id=2716248%3ATopic%3A58675

With your pears, watch out for Cedar Apple rust, because it affects pear trees too. We have a large mature pear tree on our land, but the fruit is sometimes blighted due to the cedar trees growing on my neighbor's property. Under our pear tree, I planted gooseberries, red currants, and rhubarb:
http://thesunshinethiryblog.com/2015/06/16/my-first-food-forest-guild/
 
James Darling
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I have had terrible results with most of the seedlings I've got from the Arbor Day Foundation. The exception to this was when I placed a bulk order for hybrid hazelnuts . I have never purchased any fruit trees from them so I can't specifically comment on the quality of their fruit trees.

I would like to suggest an Amish nursery that I have ordered from yearly (for an number of years) and have always had great results. They have no website....you need to call or write to request a catalog. Trees are low priced.


Schlabach's Nursery
2784 Murdock Rd, Medina NY 14103
phone: (585) 798-6198 (best time to call is AM)
Toll-free voice mail for catalog requests only: 1-866-600-5203.

David Schlabach has written a book which I think is a jewel and is largely unknown. It's availble through his nursery and I also found it on line here:

https://doubleavineyards.com/backyard-fruit-production-an-illustrated-fruit-growing-guide

Easy to undrstand and full of common sense.

 
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