While I was making and preserving apple pie filling, and choosing trees for a planned mini-orchard in my head, the Fruit Pie Garden design came to me. I always preserve my berries as jams and fillings. So, I can plant a small-space fruit orchard and berry patch. Grow the fruits you wish to grow to fill your homemade pies and tarts. That's the Fruit Pie Garden.

Dwarf varieties of fruit trees that bear in half the time of full-sized trees, are easy to maintain. I choose those that are hardy and survive winter in my planting zone. You can also bring potted dwarf fruit trees that go dormant indoors for the winter. Many do well and keep their leaves. I have a Meyer Lemon tree that comes in handy in the winter, and it makes a gorgeous indoor tree. To round out your pie-baking and preserves garden, grow a berry patch with some dwarf everbearing varieties of fruit, if you wish to preserve jams and syrups.

I am trying dwarf fig trees that are cold hardy in my zone, and maybe one or 2 indoors that aren't. I love figs. I grew up with Italian immigrnts who were adept at smuggling fig tree seedlings and cuttings into the U.S. because the first thing they would be doing, is planting that fig tree in their new traditional Italian Garden. I came up with a fig jam recipe, and a fig balsamic dressing that will hold me over through the winter.

My choice of trees are based on a few factors. They must be truly dwarf, and reach no higher than 8 ft. at maturity. Whether they do that naturally, or can take an annual pruning to keep that height, that's the deal. I also choose self-fertile trees. I don't want to have to get a pair for pollination. My trees are pollinated all summer by bees, and butterflies, as well. When getting a pair of trees that need a companion to pollinate, I would have to be ok with getting another variety that i probably don't want, for the pollination to work. Indoor fruit trees can be hand-pollinated with a paintbrush, if they need it, too.

To download my free collection of vintage fruit pie and dessert recipes in 
.pdf format to create sweet treats from your fruit pie garden bounty, click here


Just think about the fruit pies and preserves you love to eat, and design your garden around those. You can grow a huge amount of fruit in a small space garden. Berries can hang or be planted at the base of your fruit trees.

Grow fruit Vines and Go Vertical: grapes and strawberry vines are a natural for the vertical garden. Choose dwarf varieties of everything else. Berries do not do well indoors, so choose a hardy perennial that can handle winters outdoors. For eating fresh, and in pies, Jams and syrups.
Raised berry beds: After a few torturous seasons picking strawberries at ground-level, my back said "hey wait a minute". And having rabbit families decimate the berry patch, was turning me into Elmer Fudd. That's when the raised garden beds came into being. Two pretty white boxes in the frontyard among the flowers. Another few in the backyard. Keep them guessing.
Big Pots: When choosing big pots for little trees, remember that if you are growing some that have to over-winter indoors or in a garage, you don't want the pots to be too heavy. I grow mine in large pots that i've already figured out how heavy is too heavy to drag and lift. Some dwarf bush variety berries are available that love growing in a pretty pot on the patio or deck.

Imagine Your Favorite Fruit Pies and Preserves. Then grow them.
There are dozens of fruits and varieties to choose from.

Consider growing a few herbs, like mint, that you use as garnish or as a condiment with fruit

One of my choices is the Meyer Lemon - If you love cooking or baking with lemons and making lemonade, the Dwarf Meyer Lemon Tree is awesome. Mine is growing indoors over the winter, and it's a great houseguest. Dark, shiny and fragrant leaves, lots of very pretty white flowers. They will be the fruit i pick in late summer. If you love citrus marmalades, this is the best lemon for cooking. Much less bitter and acidic than the ordinary grocery store lemon. A much better lemon that holds up well in a recipe.

 I intend to make a batch of  my own Lemon Curd preserves using homegrown lemons. Lemon Curd is like a thick custard. It's delicious on buttered muffins, toast, or as a filling for mini tarts. Or by the spoonful. Citrus Marmalades can be made from a crop of lemons, limes and/or oranges. A dwarf Meyer Lemon and a dwarf Mandarin Orange will make lots of  marmalade on their own. Add a pink grapefruit and heaven awaits you. Always check your hardiness zones - most citrus are not hardy, and most go dormant in winter and make terrible houseplants. But there are many dwarfs that do well as indoor plants. Persian Limes are one of them. I'm going to see what happens when i try to make lemon-lime marmalade. I'll call it 7Up Marmalade.

The Apple - I love to preserve my own apple pie filling and apple butter. It's a time-saver just dumping a jar of filling into a pie shell, instead of going through the whole pie filling cooking process. Dwarf varietieps of honeycrisp and other cooking appples are available (you need 2 different varieties of apples to pollinate, so choose another dwarf apple variety). My favorite eating apple is honeycrisp. I don't have room for 2 trees, and apple trees need more attention than other fruit, so i'll skip the apples. I'm a lazy gardener.

Grow some fruit trees indoors - This means you can grow varieties that are not cold hardy outdoors in pots, and bring them inside for the winter, or just grow dwarf fruit trees as houseplants year-round. Those that need a chilling period outdoors to bear fruit can stay outdoors longer, and then be brought in. A 5-Gallon container is generally best for fruit trees. Use a quality well-draining potting mix.

Surprisingly, there are lots of fruit trees that are ornamental, as well as fruiting, that can be grown indoors. Figs are happy indoors and outdoors. If your local nursery doesn't carry dwarfs and indoor fruit trees, Amazon has a large selection online. I like the 2 day shipping thing! Many reputable fruit tree growers and nurseries also sell their fruit trees on Amazon and Etsy. For a small space orchard outdoors, grow the trees in pots, and purchase varieties that are self-pollinating. Check out their selection here.

Yes, you can grow dwarf banana, pomegranate, mango and other tropical delectibles in pots on your patio!

If you're growing the trees outdoors year-round, be sure to check your USDA cold hardiness map for the right varieties. 
If you're growing both indoors and outdoors, you don't need to pick only cold hardy varieties.


To view and download my graphics collection of vintage fruit pie and dessert recipes 
in .pdf format to create sweet treats from your fruit pie garden bounty, click here

Recommended fruit varieties for a petite berry patch.

Strawberries - I grow honeoye and several other everbearing strawberry plants. Everbearing varieties produce a few times in the season, in smaller batches. The seasonal types are one big harvest and they're done in June. I like a succession of fruit for eating fresh and making spur-of-the-moment desserts. I also don't want to spend 4 or 5 days picking and preserving all at the same time. 

Grow strawberries in pots or raised planter garden beds. They look neat and pretty, and keep the runners from losing their way. A big plus is ease in picking hundreds of strawberries. I'm not doing that chore on the ground anymore.  Strawberries also do great in big hanging baskets. Choose the hardiest plants for your zone. I usually plant seedlings, but most plants aare available as bare root - a bundle of roots with the crown of a plant visible, no leaves. I prefer the plants, which have a big headstart with healthy leaves. Remember that strawberry plants don't live more than 3-5 years before needing to be replaced. Most times, the plants from the runners fill in the gaps in longevity.

Plant strawberries as early as possible in the spring.

Best Strawberry Varieties:

My Number 1 choice is Honeoye. 
It produces superior crops of early season berries in my garden. This strawberry performs best in a raised bed and  in light soil. Few, if any, strawberries can out-produce this variety for the average gardener.

Earliglow is a June-bearing strawberry. It sets and ripens its fruit sooner than almost any other strawberry variety. 

A June-bearing strawberry with an almost perfect strawberry shape, glossy red, and firm. It also produces very large, sweet strawberries. Good disease resistance.

Ozark Beauty
The most popular everbearing strawberry. Large yields of unusually large strawberries for an everbearer. While June-bearers produce one early crop and then are finished, this everbearer produces a large early crop and a second crop later in the season, with a few berries produced in-between.

Sparkle strawberries are a classic favorite variety for over 60 years. It is widely considered the best strawberry variety for making jam. It is an extremely vigorous variety that produces a high number of runners, so the strawberry bed must be monitored to ensure it doesn’t get too thick. Sparkle strawberries are medium-sized and ripen late. Planting Sparkle with other earlier varieties extends the fresh fruit season. Strawberries from Sparkle plants are deep red and very tasty.

Fort Laramie
These  strawberry plants are everbearers. They produce large to very large fruits that are scarlet on the outside and dark pink to scarlet on the inside. This variety will produce blooms, berries, and runners simultaneously and is very cold hardy. Its strawberries have an exceptional aroma and are firm and honey-sweet. Fort Laramie is also a very good choice for growing hydroponic strawberries. I've never tried that method.

A newer everbearing variety that produces berries on unrooted runners. It is a great tasting strawberry developed by Washington State University. These grew very well for me.

 I grew these because they were new to me and interesting. They grew well, and they are very pretty among their red friends. Pineberry is a white strawberry cultivar with a pineapple-like flavor
, and red seeds. Easy-growing and tasty. The pineapple flavor isn't very pronounced.

I have purchased many healthy strawberry plants and bare roots from nurseries on Amazon, Etsy and ebay.

I grow everbearing raspberries and thornless blackberries. Everbearing red raspberries and blackberries are self-pollinating and have two crops. These are great candidates for trellising and growing vertically. Some folks have room and let their berry canes grow in rows without staking. For the space-challenged, their canes are usually long, and they will need to be tied during the summer. They look great on arches, and in raised beds, as well. I like to use raised beds on legs because they're taller and ornamental. Mine are about 48 inches wide. This one holds a lot of plants and is pretty on decks and patios. Mine is between 2 garden beds and can be worked on and admired from both sides. I plan on adding more, and keeping my fruit away from rabbits and other unsavory creatures. I store  pots and have rectangular planters with shade plants underneath

Do not plant these and blackberries in the same area. They will cross pollinate if they're growing near each other, and that isn't a good thing when your berries turn out not to be what you originally planted. Recommended distance apart is 50-75 ft to prevent cross-pollination.

Be forewarned about the blackberries... if you get the ones with thorns, better protect yourself before tending them. Also, bear in mind when you plant that most of them have very long, thick canes that have to be staked or tied. Make room for them. I grow mine staked in front of my fences. All of these berries require care when pruning or cutting down in fall or removing dead canes.. There will be blood loss if you're not careful.

The varieties of raspberry that i grow are everbearing, and can be cut to the ground in fall. They will come back healthy in the spring. No need for fancy pruning methods. My plants don't care when i prune them. I shorten some canes in summer, but i do a hard cut-back at the end of the season or in spring. The early summer crop will always be much smaller, but you will usually have a continuous harvest from late June til the first hard frost. I don't mind waiting for a bumper crop in fall, so if i didn't prune down to the ground in fall, i do it in the spring. New canes grow up from the roots of the plants and produce an abundant crop in the late summer and fall.

Summer-bearing raspberries fruit for about a month, then they're done until next year. Everbearing raspberries fruit from summer til winter. I've cut down canes in november that still had teeny berries growing on them. Raspberries joyously procreate by underground runners, poking up healthy new plants all around their designated area. Not a problem - they pull right out, and can be planted elsewhere. Raspberry plants do well in raised beds. Do not plant in an area where you have recently grown tomatoes, peppers, or potatoes, to avoid verticillium wilt, which these vegetables carry.

My raspberries and blackberries ripen at their best from July-Sept, usually starting right after my strawberries. I like to make jams, preserves and "drunken berries"  with the assortment for winter and holiday cocktails, or ice cream toppings. Just add berries to a jar, cover the fruit with sugar, then add vodka, gin or rum to cover. Ferment these in a cool, dark place for a few months. The alcohol and sugar content prevents spoilage. Mine seem to last 9 months to a year in a regular jar before losing taste quality. These are great added as floaters in cocktails or punches. My favorite drunken berry recipes: any combination of the berries soaked in coconut rum, blackberry brandy, chocolate liqueor or strawberry vodka. Another treat is the smoothie or milkshake on the patio on hot summer evenings.

My favorite raspberry varieties are:

Sweet Repeat
This variety produces large red raspberries that are very sweet. The canes have fewer thorns than many other everbearing varieties.

Very Sweet; Mid-Summer Fruit

Produces the First Year; Mid-Summer and Fall Fruit

Favorite Blackberries - single crops
Thornless. Grows erect.

Thornless, erect

Thornless, erect

Ilini Hardy 
Very cold hardy. Thornless, Erect.

Sweetie Pie - a new variety of blackberry, new to my garden this season.
Thornless, cold hardy, trailing canes, perfectly happy in a raised bed.
Mid-late season crop.

Figs - grow indoors and outdoors
Chicago Hardy
Brown Turkey

Other Berry plants I grow -

Dwarf Mulberry Trees - Everbearing Morus nigra. Easy to grow, and it grows fast. A good indoor plant, too. Mulberry fresh-picked or in any recipe is spectacular.

To view and download my vintage pie and dessert recipes in a
 .pdf to create from your fruit pie garden bounty, click here

To see vintage recipes for jams and jellies from your garden, click here

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