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The Garden Guru

Gardening for today and tomorrow

Jim Boxberger Jr.
Posted 7/23/21

I once heard a story about an old man, around seventy years of age, somewhere in the Mediterranean that was going to plant a tree in his yard. The tree he decided on was a Carob tree.

His neighbor …

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The Garden Guru

Gardening for today and tomorrow


I once heard a story about an old man, around seventy years of age, somewhere in the Mediterranean that was going to plant a tree in his yard. The tree he decided on was a Carob tree.

His neighbor wondered why he was planting a tree that would take ten to twenty years to produce fruit. Why not go with something that would produce fruit quicker so that he would be able to enjoy the fruits of his labor. The old man smiled and stated, “this tree is not me, it is for my grandchilden to enjoy”. Being a grandfather myself, I find myself doing some similar things as well.

When gardening to produce food for your family, there is gardening for today and gardening for tomorrow. Gardening for today is easy to plan, you plant what you want to grow in your garden each year.

Provided the deer, rabbits or woodchucks don’t get in, you can start harvesting crops as early as mid June and keep harvesting right up through mid October. You might even have some blueberry or raspberry bushes that you can pick fresh berries off of each season. But then there is planning for tomorrow or even for generations to come.

We have a piece of property over in Briscoe that has been in the family since 1954. My grandparents purchased the property way back when and it has been handed down through the generations, now to me. Long ago my grandparents had a huge garden over there and even a roadside farmstand to sell their surplus vegetables. The huge garden is long gone, but there are still a long row of blueberry bushes and one apple tree my grandparents planted many years ago.

The blueberry bushes still produce buckets of fruit each year, but the apple tree needs some work. With a lot of pruning, liming and fertilizing over the past three years the apple tree is starting to come back. There are only a few apples this year, but that is a few better than last year or the year before. I want to bring the apple tree back so that my grandchilden can go apple picking some day.

I planted six more fruit trees over there in recent years, again planning for the future. Sure, I will enjoy some fruit in a couple of years myself, but most of the benefit will go to my kids and their kids. Most of the common fruit trees like apple, pear, cherry and plums will start to produce fruit in as little as two years providing they were about five to six feet tall when planted.

Peaches, apricots and nectarines will start in about four or five years from the time planted and papaws should start to produce in about six or seven years from the time they get to six feet tall. Papaws are usually sold only about two feet tall because they can be a slow grower when potted up. They do much better in the ground.

Nut trees, however, can take much longer and they are the trees that you definitely plant for your grandchilden. In many cases you may have to wait ten to fifteen years before you see your first nut. And chances are a squirrel or chipmunk will see that nut a day before you were going to harvest it.

I am amazed by how many nut trees we sell every year considering this fact. Although in all honesty the majority of these trees are being planted for deer and not for grandchildren. A word to the deer hunters out there, you can attract deer a lot faster by planting hostas and arborvitae, than by planting nut trees.

I was looking at an online catalog for one of the nations’ largest online tree retailers and just had to laugh when I saw a chart that listed all the nut trees that they sell and how many years until harvest.

One example is a butternut tree that they say will fruit in two to three years when in real life it takes about twenty years. My aunt has one that my grandmother planted way back in the day. Maybe that is why we sell so many. People believe what they read on the internet.


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