University of Vermont Extension 
Department of Plant and Soil Science

Anytime News Article
Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension Professor
University of Vermont

The Fruit Gardener’s Bible was released in January 2012 by Storey Publishing.  This reference for home growers of temperate climate fruits covers the basics from choosing which fruits to buy and where they’ll go, to growing and using them.
Originally published as Fruits and Berries for the Home Garden by Lewis Hill in 1992, this revision 20 years later that I had the privilege to author is basically a new book, both in design and content.  While the content is about 95 percent different, the layout is totally new (larger) and 4-color throughout (the previous edition was black and white).  There are many beautiful illustrations to inspire, to show various uses of fruiting plants, and to illustrate the various fruits including some more unusual ones.  There also are several dozen illustrations by a botanical artist of various cultural techniques and structures.
This bible for home fruit growers has four parts, the first on getting started—how to include fruits in the landscape, what to grow, where to grow plants and their spacing or other needs, and then general care through the seasons.  The second part gets right into the specifics of small fruits, while the third part covers the tree fruits and nut trees.

Interspersed among the fruit chapters, as appropriate, are a few less common fruits to consider.  For instance, under the bush fruits you’ll find the lingonberry and the Saskatoon among others.  The former is a low groundcover, closely related to the cranberry.  Its red fruit are tart, so best used in jams as you’ll find throughout Scandinavia.
The Saskatoon, as its name indicates from its northern Canadian origins, is a quite hardy large shrub or small tree.  The small black fruit in mid-summer are favorites of birds and, if they allow you to get some, make good pies.  Both of these are good landscape plants, the lingonberry having nice reddish fall color and the Saskatoon (related to Shad and Serviceberry) having nice orange fall color in addition to the many small white flowers in spring.

Since this book is written for most of North America, there are cultivars (cultivated varieties) and unusual fruits for warm climates as well (but not tropical fruits such as oranges).  Even if you can’t grow the maypop, a relative of the passionflower, or the Chinese date or Pineapple guava, you can learn what these fruits are if you see them in stores or when visiting warmer regions.

Each fruit begins with a box of Fast Facts—the key facts you need to know for that fruit.  Covered are hardiness zones, height, spacing, pollination needs if any (such as cross pollination), pruning particulars, other special requirements such as fruit thinning, years to bearing, and yield.  Having to come up with these, I found there really was no one place that had all of this information.  Good yields, in particular, were surprisingly hard to find.  Many numbers, as might be expected, will vary with culture and climate and cultivar, hence ranges are given such as 5 to 15 pounds of grapes per vine.  Specifics for a few common cultivars, and suggested ones, are given for each fruit.

Fruit chapters also contain a box of growing tips, such as specifics on fertility and pruning for different types of a certain fruit, such as sweet and sour cherries or European or Asian pears.  Other boxes of information may be found in the main text, such as a chart of the differences in types of blueberries, or how to grow grapes in containers. 

The fourth and final part of the book contains the general basics of soils, planting and early care, pruning, pests and problems, and wildlife friends and foes.  Throughout, the emphasis on plant care and controls of problems is organic, or those with least environmental impact  in keeping with the mission of the publisher.

At the end is a hardiness zone map, glossary of the most common terms, index, and resources—both for information and where to buy plants (if not available locally).  Since these websites are continually changing, this list can be found online as well (  On this companion website to the book are included any other needed changes and updates, articles, more extensive cultivar listings, and “out takes” that space considerations didn’t allow into the book.  Included in the latter are many more less common fruits, propagation, and a more extensive discussion of climate impacts on fruit growing.

Although much of the original narrative of Lewis couldn’t be included in order to cover so much more information, his writing style and as much of his stories and quotes were kept as possible. My wish to those growers reading this book is the same as Lewis voiced in his previous edition.  As he said, “It took me about twenty years to learn how to grow good fruit.  I hope this book will help you accomplish it in less time—a whole lot less.”

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