University of Vermont Extension
Department of Plant and Soil Science
FRUIT GARDENER’S BIBLE
Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension
University of Vermont
The Fruit Gardener’s
Bible was released in January 2012 by Storey Publishing. This
reference for home growers of temperate
climate fruits covers the basics from choosing which fruits to buy
they’ll go, to growing and using them.
published as Fruits and Berries for the Home Garden by Lewis Hill in
revision 20 years later that I had the privilege to author is
basically a new
book, both in design and content. While
the content is about 95 percent different, the layout is totally new
and 4-color throughout (the previous edition was black and white).
There are many beautiful illustrations to
inspire, to show various uses of fruiting plants, and to illustrate
fruits including some more unusual ones.
There also are several dozen illustrations by a botanical artist of
various cultural techniques and structures.
bible for home fruit growers has four parts, the first on getting
to include fruits in the landscape, what to grow, where to grow
their spacing or other needs, and then general care through the
seasons. The second part gets right into the specifics
of small fruits, while the third part covers the tree fruits and nut
the fruit chapters, as appropriate, are a few less common fruits to
consider. For instance, under the bush
fruits you’ll find the lingonberry and the Saskatoon among others.
The former is a low groundcover, closely
related to the cranberry. Its red fruit
are tart, so best used in jams as you’ll find throughout
The Saskatoon, as
its name indicates from its northern Canadian origins, is a quite
shrub or small tree. The small black
fruit in mid-summer are favorites of birds and, if they allow you to
make good pies. Both of these are good
landscape plants, the lingonberry having nice reddish fall color and
Saskatoon (related to Shad and Serviceberry) having nice orange fall
addition to the many small white flowers in spring.
Since this book is
written for most of North America, there are cultivars (cultivated
and unusual fruits for warm climates as well (but not tropical
fruits such as
oranges). Even if you can’t grow the
maypop, a relative of the passionflower, or the Chinese date or
guava, you can learn what these fruits are if you see them in stores
visiting warmer regions.
Each fruit begins
with a box of Fast Facts—the key facts you need to know for that
fruit. Covered are hardiness zones, height, spacing,
pollination needs if any (such as cross pollination), pruning
other special requirements such as fruit thinning, years to bearing,
and yield. Having to come up with these, I found there
really was no one place that had all of this information. Good
yields, in particular, were surprisingly
hard to find. Many numbers, as might be
expected, will vary with culture and climate and cultivar, hence
given such as 5 to 15 pounds of grapes per vine. Specifics for a
few common cultivars, and
suggested ones, are given for each fruit.
also contain a box of growing tips, such as specifics on fertility
for different types of a certain fruit, such as sweet and sour
European or Asian pears. Other boxes of
information may be found in the main text, such as a chart of the
in types of blueberries, or how to grow grapes in containers.
The fourth and
final part of the book contains the general basics of soils,
planting and early care, pruning, pests and problems, and wildlife
friends and foes. Throughout, the
emphasis on plant care and controls of problems is organic, or those
environmental impact in keeping with the mission of the publisher.
At the end is a
hardiness zone map, glossary of the most common terms, index, and
resources—both for information and where to buy plants (if not
locally). Since these websites are
continually changing, this list can be found online as well
(homefruitgrowing.info). On this
companion website to the book are included any other needed changes
updates, articles, more extensive cultivar listings, and “out takes”
considerations didn’t allow into the book.
Included in the latter are many more less common fruits,
and a more extensive discussion of climate impacts on fruit growing.
Although much of
the original narrative of Lewis couldn’t be included in order to
cover so much
more information, his writing style and as much of his stories and
kept as possible. My wish to those growers reading this book is the
Lewis voiced in his previous edition. As
he said, “It took me about twenty years to learn how to grow good
fruit. I hope this book will help you accomplish it
in less time—a whole lot less.”