We often like to brag that Seattle is one of the few major urban cities in the United States that still has an extensive network of orchards. Many of them were planted decades ago, or some even over a century ago, often in hopes of having a reliable food source to help feed families and neighborhoods. Their rich history and stories motivate us to plant more trees and care for our existing canopy. Learn more below about how to grow your own fruit tree and the best practices for caring for your tree if you have one already!
Want a tree?
Resources for the fruit tree curious:
There are thousands of apple trees in Seattle. City Fruit is committed to diversifying our urban canopy. Of the many varieties of fruit trees that can grow in our climate, these are a few that we want to see more of in Seattle: Kiwi and Kiwi Berry; Quince; Persimmon; and Medlar.
There are many approaches to planting fruit trees. You can purchase trees from local nurseries like City People or Swanson’s; Grafting is a popular technique that we teach in our Master Fruit Tree Stewards course; or you can try propagation (Figs, blueberries, and currants can be propagated with just a branch! Check out our UFG spring fig rooting worksheet.)
A few things to consider:
Some fruit varieties are best eaten fresh; others as pies or preserves. How will you use the fruit? Find a variety that fits your intended use and that is harder to find in the market, so that you can be a source of more desirable fruits.
Our partnerships with local artisans like Bee and the Baker allows City Fruit to divert your extra fruit to be made into baked goods that can be shared with our community!
Already have a fruit tree?
Make a fruit tree guild for happy and healthy trees!
A fruit tree guild is a kind of edible garden designed to mimic the ecological systems of the forest. We copy these systems to establish mutually beneficial relationships between our keystone fruit trees and other productive plant species.
One easy way to begin a fruit tree guild is with garlic! When garlic is planted around fruit trees the sulfur it produces can be absorbed by the tree roots and this prevents fungal infections inside the trees. Try planting in the spring in a circle around your tree trunk!
Our partners at Beacon Food Forest have long been using tree guilds in their permaculture design. There are many examples of fruit tree guilds at their location in Jefferson Park.
Each of the surrounding companion plants performs multiple beneficial functions. Together this landscape is called a guild!
Above we see an apple tree in the winter at Beacon Food Forest, surrounded by an extensive network of:
– Rhubarb, which suppresses weeds
– and Sage working as an aromatic pest deterrent.
In addition to pruning, netting, and mulching, you may want to take a look at different Integrated Pest Management Strategies to best care for your fruit tree. Depending on the pest (apple maggot fly; codling moth) there will be different precautions for you to take. Click on the links above for our recommended plans if you notice any of these pests!
From a simple ring of garlic to an extensive food forest, there is an entire spectrum of approaches to companion planting with fruit trees that can be scaled up or down. This style of design is both beautiful to look at and beneficial for fruit trees anywhere. City Fruit offers companion planting workshops throughout the year. Check out our volunteer calendar to get hands on experience and learn more!