Fruit trees for a waterfront property

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Q: I live on the waterfront in Lantzville, BC. We have an area of our garden (not the water side) that would be perfect for fruit trees- lots of sun, room to grow. The problem is with a creek that disects our property. In winter when the tide is high and the creek is full from rain run-off, the area where I would want to put the fruit trees can get very wet. The high tide will back up the creek and the area will flood with fresh water and salt water. There is currently three pink Japanese plum trees that will soon be blooming. I think they have been there for many years. If they can survive, won’t fruit trees? Is there a fruit tree I should avoid? I would really like to plant some raspberry canes there, but I think that would be pushing my luck. What is your opinion?

Using first principles, yes … if the flowering plums are surviving in that area then fruit should be able to survive. But.. that may be all it will do. Fruiting for a plant takes a lot of micronutrients and these usually get locked away in the soil by several factors:

water levels

You can counteract this with regular fertilizer applications but with the creek you may get run-off effects.

The constant surge and flow of salt versus fresh water is a worry. The build up of sodium and chlorine in the soil may be counteracted by the fresh water surges but… all parts of the plant need oxygen to survive. The constant flooding then dry weather will reduce the amount of oxygen in the soil thus
causing a dehydration effect on the roots.

As I have said before, plants may react over a long period of time to an injury or stress and the fruit may be good for a couple of years then decline.

If it was my land I would think of either willows for a fast-growing, salt-and water-tolerant tree that will give shade and character, or trying to use the surges to form a really good marsh garden with japanese irises, sedges and other marginal plants such as bull rushes.

I would think that you could try a fruit tree but it would not be a viable option as most english-style fruits (apples pears, plums etc) are in the rose family and need good soils and excellent drainage.