Fruit Trees in NCC
I would like to plant a variety of fruit trees in my back yard. Can you advise me on varieties/species that grow well in New Castle County, Delaware and are tolerant of the clay soil around the Christina Creek? My proposed planning location gets decent sun and is on a slope. I am thinking about peach, plum, cherry, and fig but will take any recommendations you have. Thanks!
With fruit trees, your biggest challenge will be dealing with pest and disease problems. Peaches have many pest and disease problems that can be difficult for backyard growers to deal with. Plant them only if you want a challenge.
If you choose to plant plums, European plums are more resistant to brown rot than Japanese plums and European plums have fewer problems with freezing damage to flowers because they bloom later.
Sour cherries can be reliably fruitful and have fewer pest and disease problems than sweet cherries. However, cherries do not tolerate poorly drained soil. Since your site is sloped you may be able to grow them even with heavy clay soil, but do not plant them in a site where water stands or that receives large amounts of rainwater drainage from a roof or driveway.
Figs have practically no pest or disease problems but will freeze back to the roots during cold winters. Unless your location is very sheltered, you will want to look for a variety , such as 'Chicago Hardy', that produces fruit on the current year's growth.
As far as other species, Asian pears have very few pest or disease problems. Some varieties of apples such as 'Liberty' and 'Enterprise' are resistant to certain troublesome diseases and backyard gardeners have grown them successfully.
For all of these species you will want to consult other references for specific recommendations on variety selection, and site preparation. Some species will need more than one variety planted for pollination.
University of Maryland has a factsheet on home tree fruit production at: http://extension.umd.edu/sites/default/files/_images/programs/hgic/Publications/HG69_Getting_Started...
Cornell Cooperative Extension's Guide to Growing Fruit at Home is online at: http://www.gardening.cornell.edu/fruit/homefruit.html
Penn State's publication "Fruit Production for the Home Gardener" is online at: http://extension.psu.edu/plants/gardening/fphg
Thank you! That's excellent information.