a peach tree filled with peaches

What to Do With Excess Fruit from the Garden

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If you grow your own food, having excess produce is a great problem to have. Here are some great ideas for what to do with excess fruit from the garden.

What to Do with Excess Fruit from the Garden

Let’s start by talking about what fruit you can grow in Oklahoma. Berries that grow on bushes such as raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries perform well in Oklahoma. Strawberries grow well here as well. And then fruit that grows on trees can flourish in Oklahoma. Here are more ideas for what to grow in Zone 7 or other parts of Oklahoma.

Fruit Trees in Oklahoma

Oklahoma’s climate can vary, but generally, it is conducive to growing a variety of fruit trees. When selecting fruit trees for your garden or orchard in Oklahoma, consider the following factors:

  1. Climate Zone: Oklahoma falls within USDA Hardiness Zones 6a to 8a. This means that temperatures can range from cold winters to hot summers. Choose fruit tree varieties that are well-suited to your specific zone.
  2. Soil Type: Oklahoma soils vary from sandy in the west to clayey in the east. Most fruit trees prefer well-drained soil, so it’s essential to consider your soil type and make any necessary amendments.
  3. Water Availability: Depending on your location within the state, water availability can vary. Ensure that your chosen fruit trees have access to adequate irrigation, especially during dry periods.
  4. Chill Hours: Many fruit trees, such as apples, peaches, and cherries, require a certain number of chill hours (hours below a certain temperature) during the winter to set fruit properly. Be sure to choose varieties that match the chill hour requirements for your area in Oklahoma.
  5. Disease Resistance: Some fruit tree varieties are more resistant to common diseases and pests prevalent in Oklahoma. Select disease-resistant varieties to minimize the need for chemical treatments.
  6. Pollination Requirements: Some fruit trees, like apples and pears, require cross-pollination with another compatible variety to set fruit. Be sure to plant compatible varieties or consider self-pollinating options.
  7. Local Recommendations: Local agricultural extension offices, nurseries, and gardening clubs can provide valuable information and recommendations specific to fruit tree growing in Oklahoma.
an apple tree full of apples

Common fruit trees that can thrive in Oklahoma include:

  • Apple Trees: Varieties such as Arkansas Black, Granny Smith, and Gala are suitable for Oklahoma’s climate.
  • Peach Trees: Varieties like Redhaven, Elberta, and Belle of Georgia are well-adapted to Oklahoma’s conditions.
  • Plum Trees: Varieties such as Santa Rosa, Methley, and Stanley are good options for Oklahoma gardens.
  • Cherry Trees: Tart cherry varieties like Montmorency and sweet cherries like Bing can be grown successfully with proper care.
  • Pear Trees: Varieties including Bartlett, Moonglow, and Kieffer are suitable for Oklahoma’s climate.

Before planting, it’s advisable to research specific varieties that are recommended for your area within Oklahoma and to ensure you have the appropriate growing conditions and space for your chosen fruit trees. Additionally, proper care and maintenance, including pruning, fertilizing, and pest management, are crucial for the success of your fruit trees.

For more ways to use excess produce from the garden, check these out:

fresh watermelons in the garden

Excess fruit from the garden

Having excess fruit from the garden is a wonderful “problem” to have! Here are several suggestions for what you can do with your surplus harvest:

  1. Preserve It: Consider making jams, jellies, preserves, or fruit compotes. These can be stored for longer periods and enjoyed throughout the year. Canning or freezing are popular methods for preserving fruit.
  2. Share with Friends and Neighbors: Share the bounty with friends, family, and neighbors. You can give them fresh fruit or prepare small gift baskets or bags to distribute. We also take a lot of our excess produce to the homeless shelter for them to cook for their guests. It’s a great way to use it.
  3. Sell at a Local Farmers’ Market: If you have a large quantity of fruit, consider selling it at a local farmers’ market. People love buying fresh, locally grown produce, and it’s a great way to make a little extra money.
  4. Donate to Food Banks or Community Organizations: Many food banks and community organizations accept fresh produce donations. It’s a great way to give back to your community and help those in need.
  5. Make Fruit-Based Desserts: Use your excess fruit to make pies, cobblers, crisps, or fruit tarts. These are delicious treats that can be enjoyed by your family and friends.
  6. Create Fruit-Based Beverages: Make fresh fruit juices, smoothies, or fruit-infused water. These are refreshing options, especially during hot weather.
  7. Experiment with Recipes: Look for new recipes that use the specific types of fruit you have. You might discover some unique and tasty dishes to enjoy.
  8. Dry It: Consider drying your excess fruit to make dried fruit snacks. You can use a dehydrator or even your oven to dry the fruit slices.
  9. Make Fruit Leather: Fruit leather is a delicious and portable snack that’s easy to make at home. It’s essentially pureed fruit that’s dried into a sheet and then cut into strips.
  10. Use It in Cooking: Incorporate your excess fruit into savory dishes. For example, you can use fruit in salads, sauces, marinades, or as a topping for grilled meats.

Remember to store your fruit properly to maintain its freshness for as long as possible. Enjoy the fruits of your labor!

a raspberry bush full of berries

Fruit Recipes

Here are some great ways to use fruit that you grow:

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