Archive for the ‘Fruit Trees’ Category

The Easiest Fruiting Plants To Grow In Your Home Garden

It is a joy to harvest fruit grown from your own fruit trees at home. When it comes to growing fruit trees and  fruiting plants many gardeners can be either intimidated or out of their comfort zone. The biggest challenge for the home gardener usually comes down to pruning and summer maintenance of fruiting plants. I have compiled a list of cultivars that I believe are the easiest for the home Gardener in terms of pruning, spraying, and low maintenance.

Blueberries are one of the lowest maintenance plants a home gardener can add to their Powderbluelandscape. Blueberry plants have little to no disease or insect issues. They will grow to a height of 8-10 ft tall with a 3-4’ spread. The home gardener can hedge the plants back to control the height if desired. Plant spacing should be 4-6’ apart, in full sun with well drained soil. Blueberry plants like a pH in the 4.5 range. If your pH needs to be corrected you can add peat moss in the hole when planting your blueberries then mulch with pine straw. In the summer the plants are graced with plump, juicy, fruit and the fall will add striking color to your landscape. They can be planted as a hedge or grouped in an island similar to the way azaleas and roses are. Blueberry plants are partially self-fertile but will produce more fruit when planted with another variety. Pruning simply involves a light hedging in mid-winter, and removing any interior branches that are crossing one another.

Figs are a traditional southern fruit that is easy to gro. Fig trees (bushes) have little to noBrown_Turkey disease or insect issues. Fig trees can grow as tall as 10-12’ tall with a 10-12’ spread. The home gardener can control the height by cutting the tops out of the tree which will lead to more lateral branching. Figs are tolerant of most soil types but grow best in a deep clay loam soil. Figs like a pH in the 6’s and a heavy layer of mulch. Figs produce best with little or no pruning, however branch thinning is recommended to prevent the accumulation of dense unproductive twig growth. Figs ripen in late summer/early fall and are a beautiful addition to your landscape. Figs are self-fruitful. Try growing this fruit tree to see how easy and delicious it really is.

Granada Pomegranate. Beautiful large variety. Good for coastal areas. Ripens late Aug. 200 chill hours. Zones 6-10.Pomegranates are steeped in history and are one of my favorite fall fruits. Pomegranate trees have little to no disease or insect issues.  They grow to a height of 8-10 ft tall with a spread of about 6 ft. The home gardener can control the height of the tree and the spread by hedging back mid-summer and again in the winter months. Pomegranates prefer a more alkaline soil and will grow best in amended soils using a soil conditioner or peat moss. In the early years of planting we recommend pruning the bush to 1/2 of its original height the first 2 winters to promote a strong framework and discourage straggly branches. After the first couple of years the only pruning required will be the removal of low branching and the removal of dead branches. Pomegranates are a self-fruitful fruit tree.

Persimmon trees were first introduced into the United States in the 19th Century. There are little or no disease or insect issues on the plant.  They will grow to a height of 12-15’ tall with a spread of 6-8’. The home gardener can control the height and spread of the tree by pruning mid-summer and again in the winter months. Persimmons prefer a soil pH of 6.0-6.5, well drained and fertile. They can tolerate many different soil types but need it well drained and in full sun. As the tree matures, any branches that cross over one another should be removed allowing adequate sunlight and air penetration through the canopy. Persimmon trees live a very long time and make a nice landscape tree. Their beautiful fall color and decorative fruit make a nice addition to any landscape.

Muscadines are a native plant to the southeast and have little or no disease/insect issues. PamThey love our heat and humidity. Muscadines prefer a pH in the 6’s, and like a well drained soil in full sun . Muscadines do require a wire trellis or an arbor to grow up and down on. The first year there is simple pruning involved to direct the growth up and down the wire. Once the framework is established, a winter pruning is necessary to ensure proper fruit set. Muscadines ripen late summer and early fall. The aroma is sure to attract anyone to their location in the garden. An arbor makes a stunning display in any landscape.

OuachitaBlackberries  can be easily grown and require very little space in the garden. They have few disease or insect issues on the plants. Blackberries are tolerant to a wide variety of soil types, they prefer well drained, sandy loam, and a pH in the 6’s. Blackberries produce their crop on the last seasons growth. Once the cane has produced and begins dying back, the cane should be removed and discarded to help reduce disease pressure. Once the old woody canes have been removed, only the vigorous new growth will be remaining. Once the new growth reaches 48-60 inches in height, the canes should be tipped to encourage branching. Plant spacing should be 3-4 ft apart, and average yield would be 1-2 gallons per plant. Delicious

Jujube’s are commonly called the Chinese date.  It is an exotic fruit that grows well in mostRipe jujube fruit, commonly called Chinese dates. (submitted photo) APR10 areas of the South. They have little or no disease or insect issues. Jujubes are a nice landscape fruit however most varieties have a few thorns on the tree. Jujubes are adapted to a wide range of soil types and prefer a pH in the 6’s. When eaten fresh the jujube is like a sweet, dry apple. The fruit is about the size of a date and are best eaten when the fruit is half green. Jujubes ripen in the fall. Try this exotic fruit tree.  You will be glad you did.

In my opinion these are the best options for growers who want to grow fruit organically and have little disease or insect issues. All of these selections will add beauty and interest to any garden and will only require minimal maintenance. We hope you have room in your landscape to add one of these great cultivars to your garden.

We are shipping fruit trees, berry plants, nut trees and grapevines now through April.
We have a great inventory this year and the plants are beautiful!  Order yours today.

Keep Growing,

Greg Ison

How To Grow Great Peaches

It's Time To Plant Peach Trees

Enjoy the sweet taste of summertime.
Grow your own peaches at home.

Peaches are sweet, juicy, great in cobblers and even better in ice cream, but they do come with some challenges.  Of all the fruits peach trees are perhaps the most challenging to the home gardener to grow because of the spraying and pruning required in order to be successful.

Planting and Pruning Peach Trees:
Dig a good hole and make sure that the graft on the tree is 2 inches above the ground level.  At planting you should prune the tree to the height of your knee, make a clean cut. The peach tree should be about 30 inches tall.  I know you hate to buy a tree that is 4 to 5 foot tall and then prune it to 30 inches but it is necessary to develop the proper branching that is required.  In the spring the tree will begin to branch out and we want 3 to 4 primary branches growing from the trunk at least at 45 degree angles.  Ideally we want the branching to occur on each side of the tree and if the angles are less than 45 degrees those branches should be removed.  In other words, we do not want the branches to grow too vertically we want them to grow our similir to an upside down umbrella.  At the end of the first growing season save the 3 or 4 primary branches and prune out any vertical growth.

Spray Schedule
Peaches are notorious for brown spots, bruising and worms.  Most people either do not like to spray or it is unfamiliar territory and are not comfortable with fungicides and insecticides. Our fruit tree spray makes everything simple.  It contains captan which is a fungicide to control diseases and malathion which will control insects.

Peach Tree Spray Program
1st Spray – When the green tips show up in the spring
2nd Spray – When the blooms have swollen but not yet opened
3rd Spray – When the blooms are completely open and pink
4th Spray – When the blooms / petals have fallen off
5th Spray – Cover spray – when fruit is on the tree
6th Spray – 2 weeks after the first cover spray

The fruit tree spray has an interval of 1 week from the last spray to harvest but the earlier sprays are the most important.

For those that do not like to use chemicals you can use metal products to keep the peach

tree and fruit clean.  Copper or cocide is a metal based spray that will keep the peach tree and fruit clean if used properly.  Do Not use if the temperatures exceed 90 degrees – If you do the copper can burn the leaves and all of the leaves will fall off. Make sure to use copper based products either early in the morning or late in the evening.  

We also recommend a dormant spray on peach trees in the month of January.

Peach trees love to grow.  I recommend using 1 lb. of 10-10-10 in early April and follow up with a 1/2 lb. of calcium nitrate mid-summer.  On an average year the peach tree will grow 5 to 6′ tall by the end of the summer.

Let’s grow some peach trees together!

Greg Ison
Ison’s Nursery & Vineyard 



Winter Fruit Tree Care

pruning image

A good spray program includes using a dormant oil spray during winter pruning or any time before bud break.  We recommend applying Hi-Yield Dormant Oil Spray in late winter or early spring. Application of this spray protects apples, pears, cherries and grapes from scale, mealy bugs, aphids, mites and pear-pyslla. If you are growing peaches, plums and nectarines, consider applying Hi-Yield Lime Sulfur Spray to prevent leaf curl. The first spray of the season is a crucial for a healthy fruit tree.  It’s important to spray thoroughly the entire tree.

Winter Pruning: New Fruit Trees:
Start your  fruit tree off right by  pruning when planting.  The primary reason we do this is to keep the fruit tree in balance with its root system especially when planting.  If there is an imbalance it can cause the tree to be stunted. It also helps the fruit tree to bear fruit sooner.

Pruning the fruit tree stimulates growth. You will have a stronger more vigorous tree after a single growing season.  A pruned tree will be bigger than a matching unpruned tree. Begin shaping your fruit trees early.  Their natural growth tendency is not always the best for maximum fruit production.

Winter Fruit Tree Pruning:
Prune fruit trees in mid-late winter.  Remove weak, injured or narrow- angle branches, the
weaker of any crossing or interfering branches, and one branch of forked limbs.   You want to keep your tree from becoming too thick and crowded. 

Train young trees to grow in a spreading shape.  Keep in mind the image of a mature tree as you prune away buds or twigs.  Your goal is to develop a strong tree with a branch structure strong enough to support heavy crops.  You also want to prune so that plenty of sunshine gets in.  You do not want the branches to be so thick and tight that sunlight cannot reach the fruit.  Prune to admit more light to the center of the fruit tree.

Central Leader – Apples and pears, which bear heavy fruit, are often trained to form a central leader. This system encourages one main trunk with strong side branches. Maintain open space between limbs and thin secondary branches to allow sunlight and air to reach the center of the tree. As the trees age, it is possible to switch to a modified central leader training which requires less annual pruning. In orchards, these trees are sometimes pruned to a lower and wider modified leader form from the start. Much depends on how you want the tree to look in your yard.

Modified Leader – Begin pruning the same way as the central leader form with one strong central trunk. In the second or third year allow more than one strong branch to grow forming several leaders. The modified leader system may be easier to maintain since many fruit trees tend to grow this way naturally. It is recommended for cherries and plums.

Open Vase Method  works well for peaches, nectarines and apricots. This method opens up the center of the tree to let light and air in but can create weaker branches and is not recommended for apples and pears. Avoid several limbs growing from nearly the same point on the trunk or weak crotches will result. Space the principal limbs out over as much area of the trunk as possible.

Ison’s Nursery & Vineyards offer many varieties of fruit trees, berry plants, nut trees and grape vines.

Check out our shop!

Winter Pruning for Muscadine Vines 

Do Your Plants Have Gas In Their Tanks ?

Do you make sure your gas tank is not on “E” before you make a trip to work, shopping, or vacation? One of the first things I do when I get into my vehicle is to make sure I have enough gas to get where I need to go. Fuel is what keeps us going on the road, if we run out of fuel we are going to be stuck.

Plants and trees are the same way, if they do not have adequate fertilizer releasing to their root zones the growth is going to get stuck and the plant is not going to grow to its potential.

Customers tell me all the time that they were told not to fertilize the first year or that theyMuscadine Leaves just did not realize that it was necessary. I have never understood the logic of  “do not fertilize the first year so the plants can get established” to me it is a huge mistake not to encourage as much growth the first year as possible.

The first year of planting we want to encourage as much vegetative growth as possible to establish the framework or the branching of the plant.

On fruit trees if we can encourage 6-7 feet of growth it allows us to choose the branches we wish to keep, develop the scaffold of the tree, and be that much closer to production.

On grapevines it allows us to have the grapevine reach the top of the wire and extend down the wire and be that much closer to production.

On berries it allows us to push the primocanes and to be that much closer to production. The first year we can be the most aggressive because the plants are not of fruit bearing age, so all of the nutrients the plants receive will go strictly to the growth of the plant.

Recommended Fertilizer Schedule on Young Plants and Trees

Isons Custom Fertilizer Blends

Fruit Trees:
1 lb 10-10-10 April 1st,
1 cup calcium nitrate June 1st,  1 lb 10-10-10 July 15th

Raspberry and Blackberries:
1/4 lb. 10-10-10 April 1st,
1/4 calcium nitrate June 1st
1/4 10-10-10 July 15th

1/4 lb. 10-10-10 April 1st, June 1st, and August 1st

Muscadines and bunch grapes:
1/4 lb. 12-10-10 or 10-10-10 April 1st, May 1st, June 1st, and July 1st

1/4 lb. Calcium Nitrate April 15, May 15th, June 15th, and July 15th

Follow these recommended guidelines to ensure your plants get where they need to go.

Greg Ison
Ison’s Nursery & Vineyard

Pomegranates – An Ison’s Fall Favorite

Pomegranates are delicious and healthy for you

One sure way to know that the “Fall” has arrived is by the appearance of pomegranates. The pomegranate is native from Iran to the Himalayas in northern India and has been cultivated since ancient times. The fruit was used in many ways as it is today and is mentioned as far back as the Old Testament in the Bible. One of its best characteristics is that it is relatively low maintenance for home gardeners. There are very few insects or diseases that affect the pomegranate and essentially can be grown organically.

Pomegranates are both self pollinated and cross pollinated by insects, wind plays little or no role in pollination. Even though they are characterized as self-fertile, cross pollination by another variety has increased yields as much as 60%.

The growing zones for pomegranates are 7-10. They are naturally adapted to areas that have cool winters and hot summers. In the United States they have been grown as far north as Washington, D.C. and in Washington County, Utah. With that being said the English Quaker Peter Collinson wrote to the botanist John Bartram in Philadelphia in 1762 ” Plant it against the side of the house, nail it close to the wall. In this manner it thrives wonderfully with us, and flowers beautifully, and bears fruit.”

Pomegranates prefer an alkaline soil on loamy ground. If you have more clay soil you can add peat moss or other soil conditioners to loosen the area and allow for the spreading of roots once new root growth begins.

When planting a pomegranate tree we recommend pruning it back to half of its original

Pruning your pomegranate when planting

height. So if the tree is 4 ft tall we recommend pruning the tree back to 2 ft tall at planting. We recommend doing this the first 2 years after planting, the reason is to encourage the maximum number of new shoots on all sides of the trunk to prevent straggly development and encourage a strong framework. After the third year only suckers and dead branches are removed.

Fertilize twice a year, once in mid April and again in mid June, 1/2 lb of 10-10-10 in a 15 inch circle around the trunk.

Pomegranate tree

Lastly not only are pomegranates fun to grow they are also good for you. Studies have shown that pomegranates can be effective in reducing heart disease, blood pressure, inhibit viral infections, and are high in antioxidants.

Our pomegranate trees will make a nice addition to any landscape and we recommend adding this historic fruit to your garden.

Happy Planting
Greg Ison

Mistakes to Avoid During the Growing Season

Fruit from Isons NurseryThere are several land mines in growing fruit trees and berry plants that can be avoided with the right information and know how. Most of the common mistakes during the growing season are not catastrophic, but if avoided will lead to happier and healthier plants



1.  Proper size hole and spreading of the plants roots.
The hole is the foundation of the plant, so if you can have the right size hole the plant or tree will be off to a good start.

  • Most berry plants and grapevines have a smaller root system; the proper size hole should be 12 to 15 inches wide and 8 to 12 inches deep. This should more than enough to accommodate the root ball of the plant and if the hole is too deep simply back fill the hole until the root system is at its proper depth.
  • Fruit trees need a hole 18-24 inches wide and 18-24 inches deep to accomodate the root system. Fruit trees with the exception of figs and pomegranates are grafted and the graft should be 2-3 inches above ground level. If the hole is too big simply back fill the loose dirt back in the hole to get the root system at the proper level.

You may ask yourself why dig such a big hole if I have to back fill the hole, the planting_fruit_treesreason is when we back fill the hole is the dirt is nice and loose and the new roots will easily  break through the loose dirt. If the plants that you purchase are in containers make sure you spread the roots out loosely because we do not want the roots to be in a circular shape.  If the plants are bare root spread any tangled roots out and prune any broken or damaged roots.

 2. Soil PH
Most fruiting plants like a pH between 6.1-6.8, with the exception of blueberries which prefer a pH in the 4.0-4.8 range. If the plant has the wrong pH, it will inhibit the plant from pulling the needed nutrients from the soil and will usually lead to yellowing of the leaves. 

  • To raise your soil pH 1 full point add 70 lbs. of lime per 1000 sq ft.
  • To lower the pH 1 full point add 35 lbs. of sulphur over a 1000 sq ft area.

I have never liked the idea adding lime or sulphur directly to the hole or around the plant, even a small amount of lime or sulphur in a limited area may raise or lower the pH too much. I recommend taking a soil sample to your county agent or  university to get the accurate pH reading. They will also advise you of needed amendments.

Drip Irrigation3. Watering
For plants to be in their ideal growing conditions a soil moisture level that is not too wet or too dry is needed. Over-watering in my opinion is more detrimental than underwatering. Plants are searching for oxygen in the soil not water, when you overwater there is less oxygen in the soil and this can lead to soil borne pathogens which can lead to root rot. On the other hand soil that is allowed to get too dry can lead to roots drying out and the loss of the plant. My rule of thumb is that if you can place 2 fingers in the soil about an inch deep and the soil sticks to your fingers than your soil moisture is where it needs to be.  

4. Fertilization
Applying fertilizer at a high rate or too close to the plant can burn the plant or lead to salt build up in the plants. Most fertilizers have a lot of salt in their make up, if you over fertilize the salt levels in the plant can get too high and lead to slow growth or odd shaped or color of the leaves. I prefer to fertilize with less than needed but apply it frequently. An example would be instead of applying 1 lb of fertilizer on a tree, I may apply 1/2 lb and in 4-6 weeks add another 1/2 lb to the tree. The growing season is long, we have plenty of time to apply fertilizer instead of just the month of April. If you are in zones 7-10 you can safely fertilize up to early August.

5. Herbicides
There is nothing that works as well at killing grass and weeds as Round Up.  But please remember that the smallest amount of drift on a young plant can burn foliage or even kill the plant. Make sure when you apply herbicides there is little to no wind and you are extra careful to not allow any spray to come in contact with tender green growth of your fruit bearing plants.  

It is time to order Strawberry Plugs for October delivery.  By planting

It's Time To Order Strawberry Plugs for Oct Delivery

It’s Time To Order Strawberry Plugs for Oct Delivery

Strawberry Plugs in Ocotber you will begin harvesting sweet strawberries in the spring.

We are now taking reservations for fruit trees, berry plants, nut trees and grapevines for the fall and winter shipping season.  Reserve yours early and save 10% with the Early Bird Discount. We have opened the online shopping cart or you may call (800) 733-0324 to place an order.

“lets grow together”

Greg Ison
Ison’s Nursery & Vineyard

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