The thought of starting a homestead can be intimidating. When we think self-sufficient living, we think of a menagerie of agricultural activities like gardening, raising chickens, and growing fruit trees and berries. The list is endless, and it becomes hard to wrap our brains around how we can do all of this, given our busy schedules. We usually figure that it’s too hard for busy people. Homesteading is more about a way of life than growing enough food to reach a certain level of sustainable living. It’s about slowing down, disengaging from technology, strengthening relationships with friends and family, and understanding that we are sustained through God’s gift of the earth and life, not the grocery store.
Even the simplest forms of growing can accomplish this. The following list of fruits take time and effort the first year of planting, and far less during the years to follow. Almost everyone can find time in their busy schedule to start with one or two of these, if they wish. Here is a list of fruits that can be grown by those with even the busiest schedule.
Fruits for the Busy Beginning Homesteader
- Fruit trees are a slam dunk and the best place to start. Once you choose your varieties and site, have a high school student hungry for cash help dig your holes and plant your trees. This takes a few hours for 2-3 trees. Water as necessary during the summer, wait for a couple of years and harvest fruit. You’ll have to prune the trees each year and that takes about 10-15 minutes per tree once a year for the first 5 years, and 20-30 minutes per tree each year after. Not much work for a lifetime of fruit. Oh yes, and there is the harvest, but if you consider that work, I can’t help you much there.
- Blueberry bushes take slightly less work that fruit trees, and yield amazing berries. You’ll have to make sure you add a fertilizer each year to lower the soil pH (very easy) and birds love the berries so a placing a net over the bushes as they ripen helps. But blueberry bushes yield year after year after year.
- Strawberries are just about fool-proof for raising amazing fruit that beats your grocery store fare, hands down. They take more effort than fruit trees or blueberries, they need to be planted in a raised beds or gardens. But a well-planted and maintained bed of berries will produce for close to 5 years, needing only weeding, fertilizing, and watering each year after planting. Working soil, especially virgin ground, can take time and effort. Much depends on the amount of rock and tilling involved. But once the beds are in, we’ve never regretted the effort. We keep planting more and more plants every year and love to watch our boys “pick” berries. (Five in the mouth for everyone in the basket.)
- Raspberries are another winner and should be planted in beds like strawberries. The same up-front work as strawberries for 5-10 years of amazing fruit. Our boys help with the harvest here, too. (Purple hands, lips and tongues.)
- Asparagus is almost fool-proof, too. Yeah, yeah, we know. Asparagus isn’t a fruit. But they’ll take the same time as strawberries in the first year. With careful mulching and fertilization each spring, a bed of asparagus will yield for 20 years or more. Pick to your heart’s content, and see if you can actually get sick of eating it. The best part for us here at the homestead is that the boys won’t eat asparagus. It’s all for Mom and Dad!
Unlike garden vegetables, once these crops are in, they are in, and do not have to be replanted year after year. That makes life so much easier!
Do you want to try homesteading? Pick one or two from the list and start here. The worst that can happen is you may decide not to expand, and you’ll be left eating great fruit!
Good Things Come to Those Who Wait
Remember, though, that these will not bear fruit in the year you plant. All good things take time, and it will take until the next summer to harvest strawberries and raspberries, and a year or two more for the rest. Welcome to homesteading and growing. But when the harvest comes, I have yet to meet anyone who regrets the effort.
Next time, I’ll talk about choosing fruit tree varieties and finding the best location for your “orchard”. Until then, if you have any questions, fire away!
- Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread (crossroadshomestead.wordpress.com)
- The Soggy Bottom Boys (crossroadshomestead.wordpress.com)
- How to Make Patio Fruit Trees Work for Your Garden (primroseblog.wordpress.com)
- Easy Homesteading for Beginners: 5 Simple Ways to Get Started (modernhomesteaders.net)