Home Living Home & Garden Five fruits that will thrive in your backyard

Five fruits that will thrive in your backyard


When most North Forkers think of growing fruit, they think about southern climates where fruit of all kind grows in abundance. They’d be as surprised to learn as we were that there are actually a number of fruits that are perfect for growing on Long Island! RiverheadLOCAL sat down with Robin Simmen, a horticulture specialist at Cornell Cooperative Extension, to find out exactly which fruits will thrive on the North Fork.
Many people have not heard of the fruit-bearing PawPaw tree, but Simmen said they are starting to become more popular on the North Fork.
“I know of a few nurseries that are selling them,” said Simmen, adding that the PawPaw tree is unusual, but is also very special.
“It produces the largest edible fruit in North America,” said Simmen.
The Pawpaw’s fruit, which tastes like a mix between a mango and a banana, hasn’t caught on in the past, said Simmen because it doesn’t have a long shelf-life, meaning you really must eat it as soon as it is ripe or it will rot pretty quickly.
To be successful in growing a PawPaw, Simmen said you would need to plant a few of them since they need to be able to cross-pollinate.
Apples and Peaches
Residents of the North Fork all know that it is possible to grow both apples and peaches since there are a number of local orchards selling the delectable fruits, but Simmen said if a homeowner is looking to plant one over the other, they should plant peaches over apples.
Apples, she said can be difficult to grow because of the climate and prefer the cold of upstate, but she said, for peaches, “we are in a perfect climate.”
Fig Trees
“The fig tree is a fabulous tree to grow on the North Fork,” said Simmen, adding that fig trees are notably valuable since once you establish the small tree, you will be able to reap its fruit for generations to come.
Blueberries love the North Fork’s soil and flourish in it, especially if they are planted in soil that is high in acid.
Not only are blueberries delicious, but they also are ornamental.
“They are very attractive plants and you can eat the berries too,” she said.
The early summer is a perfect time to plant either watermelon seeds or a pre-started plant, according to Simmen. Just make sure to plant your watermelon in a rich soil. Watermelons don’t like sandy soil, she said.
Raspberries flourish in the soil of the North Fork, according to Simmen. She did warn, however, to use caution when choosing a species to plant.
“You have to be very careful because there are some invasive raspberry species that come from China and they will invade our forests,” said Simmen. Make sure you talk to an expert to find the right species of raspberry for your back yard before purchasing.
To successfully grow raspberries, Simmen recommends buying a pre-started raspberry bush rather than planting seeds.

Courtney Blasl
Courtney is a freelance photographer, videographer, web designer and writer. She is a lifelong Riverhead resident.