I previously did some analysis on the profitability of vegetables in your garden and there have been requests as well as my own curiosity of how fruits would stack up against fruit trees/bushes.
To keep things simple I made the assumption of fruit trees/bushes are fully mature with maximum yields. So please take into account that you will see some variance throughout the years. I have also used the fair market retail value of fruit when purchased by the pound, obviously all of these could be purchased cheaper by the bushel…but many of us you live in urban areas it can be difficult to make these discounted large purchases nor consume 48 lbs. of apples before they go bad.
After a crunched the numbers I was a bit surprised and happy to see blueberries at the top of the list. I have four blueberry plants already in the ground and two more waiting to be planted. Though one asterisk for this plant is that is take 3-4 years to really start producing but you get several years of good production and by buying a variety of plants with different harvest times, so unlike many other fruits you do not get a huge supply of fruit all at the same time.
Overall fruit compared to vegetables provides a similar range of harvest value depending on the variety. There are a couple of differences that should be taken in to consideration:
- Space: Fruit trees/plants range from a little over a square foot to over 60 square feet per planting
- Time to Maturity: It can take several years for some trees to become mature and start producing high yields.
- Size of Harvest: You could see hundreds of lbs. of produce within a couple weeks. You will need to determine a means to actually use this (canning, pies, forcing on neighbors)
- Commitment: Unlike annual vegetables if you decide you really don’t care for the produce it can be time intensive and expensive to switch out an apple tree for a difference variety.
|Apple (Standard)||$ 6.64|
|Apple (Semi-Dwarf)||$ 6.40|
|Pear (Standard)||$ 2.90|
|Apple (Dwarf)||$ 2.35|
|Pear (Dwarf)||$ 2.10|
|Cherry (Sour)||$ 1.13|
|Cherry (Sweet)||$ 0.84|
As always the common sense principles apply:
- Grow what you like to eat
- Cost is only one factor to consider, you can’t beat real fresh produce
While heading to a friend’s house we came across a local fruit stand selling fresh peaches. With the great quality and low prices I couldn’t help leaving with a couple dozen peaches. By the time I made it back to the car, I knew there is no way we were going to eat this many so Maddie (my recently turned 6 year old) and I decided to make the homemade peach jam.
Now the other than Maddies “pinches of love” we simply followed the recipe on the package of Pectin.
- 4 pounds of peaches (or about 8 peaches)
- 1 cup of sugar
- 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
- 1 packet of Ball Fruit Pectin
- 5 pinches of love (each jar)
Now I will share with you a couple of techniques for “cutting up the peaches” I did this by hand because I did not take the time to learn these (yeah I was in a hurry) First which I like the best is cut the peaches in half (remove pit) and then simply use a citrus juicer to get the meat off. This also mashes them up a little for you and safe of kids to help out. If you don’t have a citrus juicer, you can also use the same technique for removing skins off of tomatoes. Boil the peaches for 30-60 seconds then dump them in an ice bath and the skins should slide right off. If they still have trouble try leaving them in for another 30 seconds (given they are probably not completely ripe) and you should have better luck.
Add the peaches, lemon, and pectin into a pot over medium heat stirring constantly as it comes to a full boil. Add sugar then let boil for 1 minute then remove from heat. Fill jars up to 1/4 inch from the top add lids/rings and boil for 5 minutes and you should have yourself some delicious peach jam which is good for about 12 months in your pantry.
The more educational part of this post is my demonstration of how to improvise when you are missing fancy tools like a water bath canner (ok it is just a large pot) that barely covers the top of the jars.
Here is our “jar tongs” to get the jars promptly out of the water bath using my BBQ tongs.
In the end the jam setup well and all five jars remained sealed. Though I think I either need to get a bigger pot or some half pint jars for the next time I try this.
As a finishing touch my daughter insisted on this custom make labels using some mailing labels I had lying around.
In the end the jars look pretty good and she is excited to start selling them…though we probably will opt to keep a couple jars for ourselves and share a few with some friends/family.