As more people look towards creating sustainable food solutions, fruit trees are receiving a lot more attention as a cost effective means of optimizing home-garden production. With the capability of yielding hundreds of pounds of fruit each year over the course of one or two decades, a fruit tree may provide the best return on land space for your garden. By selecting the right varieties and rotating the harvest times, it’s possible to have an abundance of fruit available for eating and juicing all year long.
Depending on the variety, fruit trees can be purchased for as little as $30 for a dwarf tree, to over $100 for semi-dwarf trees. For people who are looking to maximize their available growing space, the cost of adding fruit trees can add up quickly. With a little research, exploration, and creativity, it may be possible to reduce your fruit-tree seedling outlay significantly.
Every region of the country has indigenous fruit trees that grow wild. In the southeast it’s Paw Paw trees. In the northern regions it’s wild apples and wild mulberry. In many regions of the country persimmon trees sprout in the wild. Your local forest service would have information on plants and trees that grow wild in the area.
As an example, in the northwest, you may live in a region where wild pear trees grow. They can produce an abundance of tart, apple-like fruit that stays edible throughout the growing season. They pollinate by their own seed so it’s likely you will see them growing in groups. It is also very likely that you will see some small trees and seedlings growing nearby.
The key is to do some research to narrow down the specific areas where they thrive. It is also recommended that you study the characteristics of the tree so you will know one when you see it. Plus, it is important to know when the tree goes dormant, as this is the time to remove the tree. If you spot some seedlings while on a hike during the growing season, you can simply mark the spot so that you can return during the dormant season.
For small trees, you can wipe the roots clean of any dirt and then place the tree in a container of water to bring back home. It is recommended that the trees be replanted while they are still in their dormant time, no later than the beginning of the spring season.
Buy Internet Trees
Many of the larger nurseries offer online specials that can reduce your costs significantly, especially if they are purchased in bulk. Recently, Nature Hills promoted a 40% off coupon on their already reduced prices. During this time, it was possible to buy some perennial fruit trees for less than $20 for four or more trees.
Another great site is Arborday.org  where, for a small membership fee, you can search for many types of fruit trees. The average cost is between $10 and $12 and you can search by growing zone to ensure you find trees that do well in your region.
Check Your State’s Forest Service Nursery
Each state has its own Forest Service nursery that offers locally adapted seedlings to state residents. In some states, websites for these state nurseries offer sales on local varieties, but it is hit-or-miss as to whether there will be any fruit trees among them. You may lucky enough to live in a state, such as New Hampshire, where they still give away trees for free.
Grow Free Trees from Your Local Market
Growing fruit trees from the pits of fruits such as peaches and apricots has always been an option for anyone with the time and inclination to do so. While the price may be right, there is some work involved in growing a tree that bears fruit from a pit. But, it can be done.
The tricky part is preparing the pit for planting. It’s a relatively easy procedure that begins with taking the pit from the fruit and drying it. With care, the pit is cracked open and the seeds are retrieved. The seeds then need to be placed in the refrigerator to allow them to sprout. Then, during the dormant period, the seedling can be planted.
One of the problems with growing trees from pits is that you never really know what you’re going to get as they can produce a hybrid that you weren’t expecting. It’s recommended that you plant several seedlings per growing space to see which ones will take.
In summary, growing a fruit tree orchard can be an extremely rewarding solution for anyone with the desire to produce sustainable food. It doesn’t happen overnight, and there is some sweat equity involved. The good news is that you don’t have to break the bank to do it.