Harnett County,
North Carolina

Cooperative Extension 

How can I reap the rewards of healthy fruit in my diet?

ASK THE HORT AGENT

Question How can I reap the rewards of healthy fruit in my diet?

Answer Ask not what your fruit trees can do for you. Ask what you can do for your fruit trees.

People are not getting enough fruit in their diet, especially fresh fruit. As a result, they are missing the great health benefits of antioxidants. Throughout history this problem comes and goes. It has been linked to status, economy, environment, education and other factors. While Americans seem to have fallen into this dire situation now, it is futile to play the blame game. We can work together to correct this problem. The solution is a Horticultural Bail Out Program. There are nearly 700 billion reasons to pursue this solution.

Homeowners can plant blueberries, blackberries, muscadine grapes and figs. These small fruit plants produce bountiful harvests of antioxidants and require minimal maintenance. Through numerous varieties, they offer wide ranges in taste, production windows, structural appearance and specific antioxidants. For a little more investment, a homeowner could also plant strawberries, pomegranates, persimmons or pears. This second list may require more maintenance, but is still within the “minimum” maintenance criteria.

Will it cost too much up front? Not really. Small fruit plants are typically cheaper than ornamental plants. Planting small fruit plants will enable you to hand down a health legacy to your children and grandchildren instead of continuing the diet debt.

Will it take too long to reap the reward? This is the crux of the problem in the plant world. Everybody wants instant gratification. The Horticultural Bail Out Program takes a two prong approach. First, plant your small fruit knowing there may be a delay. For example, blackberries will probably be ready to pick the first season and blueberries will take 2 to 3 years. The length of time depends on the type of fruit and age of the plant. In the mean time (second prong), visit u-pick farms and local fruit stands. They can provide immediate fruit and large volumes if you want to stock the cupboards.

Small fruit will not place a high tax on your spare time. Buy into the Horticultural Bail Out Program. Don’t hand down a nutritional debt. People talk “change” every January. By February, we’re back to the same old same old. This is “change” we can see, feel, measure and really believe in. Whether you’ve been Biden your time or discouraged because somebody Madoff with your money, it’s time to do something. Make this an historic year. Invest in your horticultural and nutritional legacy by planting.

Here are a few sources of small fruit plants - Ison’s Nursery http://www.isons.com/ , Bottom’s Nursery http://www.bottomsnursery.com/ , Woodard Pecan Nursery http://woodardpecan.com/home , Duplin Nursery http://www.ncagr.gov/NCproducts/ShowSite.asp?ID=1723 For planting and maintenance info, visit http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/consumer/agpubs/grapesberries.pdf If you do not have internet access, then call 893-7530 or email me at gpierce@harnett.org

I still have the “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” policy. If you don’t ask me, then I can’t tell you.

Gary L. Pierce

Horticulture Extension Agent

Harnett County

 
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