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The Backyard Orchardist

A complete guide to growing fruit trees in the home garden, 2nd Edition

Foreword by Peter Hatch

Illustrated by Glenn Wolff

Categories: Gardening

For novice and experienced fruit gardeners alike, The Backyard Orchardist: A complete guide to growing fruit trees in the home garden has been the go-to book for home orchardists for over 2 decades. This expanded and updated edition–organized into 6 easy-to-follow sections–offers even more hands-on horticulture. Award-winning author Stella Otto starts by systematically guiding readers through the all-important first steps of planning and planting the home orchard. Learn to:

•    evaluate and build healthy soil

•    choose the best planting site

•    select fruit trees that are easy to grow and appropriate for your climate

Become familiar with the growing requirements of popular temperate zone tree fruit: the pome fruit—apples, pears, Asian pears, quince, and the novelty medlar –and stone fruit—cherries, apricots, plums, their new hybrid pluots and apriums, peaches and nectarines. In-depth chapters on each fruit offer recommendations on:

•    disease-resistant varieties to save you time and reduce unnecessary spraying

•    size controlling rootstocks choices for smaller spaces

•    compatible varieties to achieve proper cross-pollination that leads to a bountiful harvest

For urban gardeners in apartments, condos, and small lots, Otto walks you through the essentials of container growing and even how to winterize figs and other potted fruit trees.

Horticultural fundamentals are simplified into practical techniques for ongoing care and maintenance of a thriving orchard. Gain understanding of soil biology and how nutrient availability impacts the tree. Master how to prune with precision, including the when, how, and why of pruning and its importance to tree health and disease prevention. Water with confidence: learn when why, and how much.

The pests and disease sections are extensively illustrated to help with identification. Control solutions, both biological and synthetic have expanded greatly since the original edition, offering the gardener numerous choices based on their individual situation.

Harvest hints, use, and storage recommendations help you enjoy your fruit at its peak flavor or preserve it for the off-season. A seasonal to-do calendar, resource list, additional reading suggestions, glossary, illustrations, charts, and an index put all you need to know at your fingertips.

Reviews and Praise

  • “Over the years I have seen many gardening books on landscaping, shrubs, trees, and ornamentals. There has always been a need for an intelligent, easy to understand, well written book on fruit. Stella Otto’s first edition of The Backyard Orchardist set the bar high. This second edition improves on what I feel has long been the best reference on growing fruit trees. Thank you for this wonderfully written book. I recommend it to anyone, from those who are just starting out, to a pro who wants to refresh themselves on the why, when, and where they do what they do.”--Bill Ford, 3rd generation fruit grower, owner of Johnson Nursery 

More Reviews and Praise

  • “For over twenty years, Stella Otto’s book, The Backyard Orchardist, has been a staple reference for the home grower and adventurous landscape designer. The newly updated and expanded version of this classic hits perfect stride with the growing interests in uncommon fruits, container gardening, and natural fruit tree care. The new edition will soon be dog-eared and smudged right along with my original copy.”--Michael Judd, author of Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist

  • “... does a great job of simplifying the complex science of fruit growing to a practical level that a novice home grower can use and enjoy...”--Dr. Nikki Rothwell, Extension Specialist and Coordinator, Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Center

  • “Welcome to the “grow it, eat it” movement. If you’re about to dig in, good! The Backyard Orchardist will move you along the way with practical, up-to-date information to energize your journey.”--Michael McConkey, Edible Landscaping nursery

  • The Backyard Orchardist simplifies the complexities of managing home orchard pests and disease. It helps you understand and weigh the choices: from safer, more eco-friendly strategies through the occasionally necessary pesticide options available to the home gardener.”--Emily Pochubay, Tree Fruit IPM Educator, Michigan State University Extension

  • “Stella’s book, The Backyard Orchardist, has been a long-time favorite and has taught me a lot.”--Jan Riggenbach, garden writer

  • “Stella’s approach to the topic is simple, yet detailed enough to help any home orchardist with their most frequent pest challenges.”--Dr. Duke Elsner, Michigan State University Extension

About The Author

About Stella Otto

Stella Otto got her first taste for fruit growing during annual family outings to the U-pick orchards of western Massachusetts. Following receipt of a B.S. in horticulture from Michigan State University, she worked at one of largest tree fruit nurseries in the U.S and a major tart cherry orchard near Traverse City, MI, before she and her husband eventually started their own diversified fruit farm in northern Michigan. Stella has authored two books, the award-winning The Backyard Orchardist, and The Backyard Berry Book. She has written freelance articles for numerous magazines, appeared on the Discovery Channel, and been interviewed on NPR and other gardening radio programs. Stella presently cultivates a fruitful family garden and enjoys her horses on a 10-acre homestead in northern Michigan. She can also be found cultivating fruit gardening information on her blog The Backyard Fruit Gardener at

Connect with this author

Books By Stella Otto

Pages:320 pages
Book Art:Black and white illustrations
Size: 6 x 9 inch
Pub. Date: November 23, 2015
Paperback: 9780963452047

Available In/Retail Price

Paperback, 320 pages, $24.95

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