As with all topics I want to state that I am not an expert in orchards or any other topic. I like to simply share what I have learned, often the hard way, with those that would like a little hands-on information.
When we bought our property about 12 years ago it never crossed my mind to plant any tree other than a shade tree.
If we had thought to plant trees that first year we would have a mature orchard right now instead of the fledgeling orchard we have right now.
It wasn't until about 3 years ago it dawned on me to plant some fruit trees in our backyard. I kept thinking we just didn't have enough space to do much of an orchard since we had the chickens and dogs and then the goats. We had the yard sectioned off and I just didn't see how we could do it. After all we only have 1 acre.
Of course it did not cross my mind to plant dwarf fruit tree because honestly I really didn't know a darn thing about fruit trees then. When when we began the journey of self-sufficiency is when I began thinking there must be a way to get some fruit trees in here. After all we spent a large part of our monthly food budget on fruit so it would make sense to provide our own if we could.
It was then that I started researching and reading everything I could find on the subject of fruit trees and became enlightened of the fact that you can grow dwarf fruit trees and the produce plenty of fruit for the average family. I actually read some where that a good producing dwarf apple tree can produce 3 bushels of apple in a season. I have yet to see that as my trees just produced their first apples last year and there were only two of them, apples I mean.
Since then our little orchard has grown to include - 2 apple trees, 2 pear trees, 2 plum trees and a fig tree.
We have continued to clear out our mountain junipers and replace them as we can with fruit trees. The new additions this year were the 2nd plum tree and the fig tree. A friend of mine has a fig tree and gets wonderful amounts of figs from the one fig tree.
We are purchasing a larger piece of property that will serve as our retirement homestead and I will immediately beging planning and planting our orchard.
If you are just starting out your homestead or getting ready to purchase your homestead I would highly recommend you start you orchard right away so when your homestead is established so will your orchard. Unlike a garden an orchard does not require as much attention or as often as a garden so you can start your orchard before you actually move onto your property and already have it well on it's way when you do actually move to your new homestead.