Get dirty, have fun and grow more food with great gardening tips from real-life gardeners.
If you love fruit like I do, you'll soon realize that you could break the bank buying enough plants to fill your belly. Luckily, many fruiting trees and bushes are very simple to propagate using no equipment except some potting soil and a heating pad (or even just a garden row). In fact, if you follow the techniques below, you can get a handful of cuttings for free from a friend during pruning season and end up with a whole homemade orchard.
Grapes are the first easy species on my list because they will grow in most parts of the U.S. and are a breeze to root from hardwood cuttings. (Hardwood cuttings are pieces of one-year-old wood taken in the late winter before the buds start to swell.) You can read my easy rooting method here, or, if you want to put in a little more effort and get even higher success rates, you can use the fig technique listed next.
Figs are just as easy to root as grapes, but I put them second on my list because northerners will have a hard time keeping the plants alive. (If you live partway north, you can grow figs as long as you choose a cold-hardy variety.) My method of rooting figs from hardwood cuttings is nearly as simple as the one I use for grapes, but I use a heating pad for figs to jump-start the process.
Gooseberries are simple because they just about root themselves. If you allow (or force) one branch to trail along the ground, then cover part of the branch with mulch, roots will grow on the submerged portion. Cut the stem free next year and you'll have one or more gooseberry plants to set out elsewhere. In case you're curious, this technique is called tip layering.
Hazels and rabbiteye blueberries are examples of another kind of self-rooting plant. After a few years, both of these bushes will begin to send up suckers from near the base. The suckers that are at least a few inches away from the parent plant will generally grow roots a year after emerging, at which point you can dig down until you've found several roots, clip the sucker off below the rooted area, and then prune the top back to match the amount of roots you found. In fact, if you're careful, you can propagate figs this way as well.
This is far from a complete list of the easy-to-propagate woody plants found on the homestead, but it should get you started. Soon you will have filled up your whole homestead and will be giving away baby figs and gooseberries to your friends and neighbors. Enjoy!
As a side note, if you're expanding your chicken flock as well as your orchard this spring, our Chick Bundle is on sale for 20% off right now - get them while they're hot!