Fruit and nut trees for Arlington County
Growing and harvesting fruit and nuts from your own trees can be one of the most fulfilling and rewarding things to do on your property. This article talks about the considerations for working with these plants in and around Arlington County. Here are some quick tips on how to select for fruit trees:
What can grow here?
- Climate: In Arlington, we live in hardiness zone 7b. That means species that don’t to
lerate our climate are outside of our range. For example, citrus fruit, coconuts, and other more southern fruits will not likely survive or thrive in our community. Many trees can do well in warmer micro-climates in cities, where they would not thrive in the suburbs. Figs are a prime example of this.
- Adaptability to our soils: Our soils tend to be fairly acidic. Not every fruit or nut tree likes that condition. Native fruit trees can be perfect for these conditions, but many fruit and nut trees can tolerate our soils, as well. Check the label before buying. Just because it’s sold here, doesn’t mean it will do well!
- Check the handout for our presentation for a list of fruits that grow in this region.
How much work can you put into the trees?
- Pruning: Many fruit trees require pruning for a full harvest. Consider the work involved in this, and how you can accommodate this at your home
- Pest management: Most fruit and nut trees have developed some nasty diseases, after millenia of cultivation. Some may require chemical or organic pest control. Pick pest-resistant species, or be prepared to spend some time on pest control.
- Soil improvement: Not all soil is perfect for growing fruit and nut trees. If you’re dead set on a species, you may have to amend or remediate your soil. Be aware that pollutants may concentrate in your fruit, as well, so always have your soil tested before planning an urban agriculture adventure.
What to avoid
- Species susceptible to disease: Check with your local extension (http://offices.ext.vt.edu/arlington/ ) to determine appropriate species for pest resistance in our area.
- Invasive species: Non-native invasive species, such as white mulberry may be tasty, but can cause significant ecological impacts. See the handout for a short list of trees to avoid.
- What exactly am I going to do with 100 apples at the same time? It may sound great to grow apples in your yard, but if you do not have a good plan for all the fruit that will grow in your new orchard, it may become a bigger mess than a benefit. Consider options like canning, dehydrating, and juicing before it’s too late, so you’re prepared to handle a barrel of delicious fruit, because even the most delicious fruit gets tiring after a couple of days.
Fruit and Nut Trees in Arlington County handout: https://arlingtonva.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/13/2016/09/Urban-Ag-Symposium-Fruit-and-nut-Trees-for-Arlington-HANDOUT.pdf
Tree fruit in the home garden: https://pubs.ext.vt.edu/426/426-841/426-841_pdf.pdf
Native fruit and nut trees and shrubs of Virginia: http://www.pubs.ext.vt.edu/ANR/ANR-23/ANR-23NP.html
Planting conservation buffers with native fruit and nut trees: http://www.pubs.ext.vt.edu/ANR/ANR-69/ANR-69.html
Arlington County invasive plant list: https://arlingtonva.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/13/2013/10/Invasive-Plant-List-2-19-15.pdf