It all started with a single apple tree.
Years ago, Grovetown resident Jim Mayfield planted one apple tree. Now he has the pleasure of picking from a variety of 32 apple trees and six crabapple trees.
"They are just getting to a fruit-bearing age, but I don't have quite enough to sell," Mayfield said.
Over the years, Mayfield has learned that in order to get any apples at all, it's critical to plant them in the right combination.
"Most apple trees have to have a pollinator," he explained. "For example, I planted a Lordi variety along with an Arkansas Black. The Lordi serves as the pollinator.
"Most people don't know that apple trees need pollinators," he said. "So, if you plant one without it, you'll have a nice tree, but no fruit."
Mayfield says this was all new to him at first, but "I sat down and did some research and I'm on the right track now."
Satisfied with the bounty of his apple trees, Mayfield branched out into a different family of fruit-bearing trees, plums.
"I absolutely love plums," he said. "I have a couple of Santa Rosa variety, and I've had wonderful success with them."
While it's quite common to enjoy them straight from the tree, Mayfield said plums are good for other things, too.
"I make preserves and jellies with my plums," he said. "And, of course, if you don't do anything to them, you've got prunes."
Mayfield says he thought long and hard about planting peach trees but didn't.
"Well, I have a friend in South Carolina who grows plenty of them, and I get them for free, so I changed my mind about growing too many of those," he said.
But he did plant two. "I have a Georgia Belle and Red Haven," he said.
Of all his trees, Mayfield says his persimmons are among his favorite.
"I grow a Japanese variety called Fuyu," he said. "They bear heavy and are about the size of an apple. They have very few seeds and are just delicious."
Much like his plums, Mayfield enjoys doing something a little different with his persimmons.
"I make pies with them," he said. "People always ask me for the recipe, thinking it's an apple pie. When I tell them I use persimmons, they can hardly believe it."
Mayfield says growing trees doesn't require that much space. "Even the smallest of yards can have one plum tree or a couple of apple trees," he said.
Just be ready to do a little work.
"Fruit trees aren't the easiest thing to grow," he said. "They have to be sprayed on a strict regime and some require quite a bit of husbandry."
But Mayfield says growing fruit trees is just like anything else for a homeowner: "If you really want to do it, you can. It's not an impossible thing to do."
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.