In the years to come, all this hard work will be worth it. Just keep thinking about how good allthat fruit from your backyard will taste. Fruit plants require a little more care in some areas than others. But with some planning andwork, you can enjoy tasty fruits from your own garden. Krewer said right after you order your stock, start preparing the soil for planting. Most small fruits get their best start if you plant them in December through February. Manynurseries take orders for plants in mid-September. Ordering early helps you make sure you’llget plants. Then break up the soil in the planting hole. Krewer said new fruit plants need a hole at least 2feet deep and 2 feet across. “Be sure to break up any clay or hard pans that could slow or stoproot growth,” he said. As plants emerge from dormancy in early spring, their leaves and shoots grow quickly. Winterplanting helps the plants establish a strong root system. That helps the young plants surviveduring those first few critical months. “Many procedures and varieties we develop for commercial production are well-suited forbackyard growers, too,” NeSmith said. Backyard gardeners benefit from commercial fruit research, too. You’re more likely to get the best plants, too, Krewer said. And you can be assured of gettingthe variety you want. Georgians grow all types of fruits in their yards, gardens and even in pots. Fruit experts withthe University of Georgia say blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and figs flourish in mostof the state. There are truly dozens of varieties of every fruit. But not all will grow well in your area. Sochoose carefully, said Scott NeSmith, a CAES research horticulturist in Griffin. “For backyard fruits, the two most important things to do in early fall are ordering nurserystock and preparing the soil,” said Gerard Krewer, an extension horticulturist with the UGACollege of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “Research has identified at least five or six really good variety choices for every area of thestate,” he said. NeSmith checks varieties for fruit size, abundance, harvest window and othergrowth characteristics. “There is more of an advantage to planting during early winter in south Georgia than in northGeorgia,” he said. “But there is still a definite advantage to planting in winter, instead of laterin the spring, all over the state.” Testing allows time for lime to increase the pH level, Krewer said. Mix lime with the soil inthe planting hole. Most fruit plants like slightly acid soils — those with a pH around 6.0 to 6.5. Blueberries arethe exception, he said. “They prefer very acid soils with a pH around 4 to 5.3, so don’t limesoil for blueberries.” Test your soil to find out the pH level. Your county extension office can send your soil sampleto the UGA Plant Services Lab. The lab will test your soil and make lime and nutrientrecommendations specific to the plants you want to put in that soil. Planting during winter assures that the young plants are dormant, Krewer said. Plantingactively growing trees and plants decreases the chances the plants will survive.