I do believe that fruit trees are the essential to provide produce for yourself. I learned from my parents that one should plant fruit trees as soon as possible...for the attitude of "it will be too long before I get fruit" only delays the productive years.
Fruit trees provide a bountiful source of produce. If planned well, you can be harvesting fruit almost every month of the year (in Northern CA). If planned poorly, you will be inundated with tons of fruit all at once. I have found a great resource on the Dave Wilson Nursery website and the Fruit Harvest Chart. With a little planning, you can enjoy backyard fruit almost all year long.
Here is what we have planted in order of harvest:
Cherry - Craig's Crimson (late May)
Blueberries - Various (June)
Rasberries - Heritage (June and September)
Aprium - Cot-n-Candy (mid June)
Apricot - Harglow (late June)
Nectarine (White) - Arctic Glo (late June - early July)
Peach - Frost (mid July)
Peach - Elberta (early August)
Grape - Interlaken (ealy August)
Pear - Hosui (early August)
Pear - Bartlett (mid August)
Grape - Venus (mid August)
Grape - Fantasy (mid August - early September)
Apple - Red Delicious (late August)
Fig - Conadria (September)
Grape - Black Monnuka (September)
Grape - Ruby (late September)
Kiwi - Brown Fuzzy (October)
Apple - Sierra Beauty (October)
Avocado - Stuart (Fall)
Mandarin(2) - Tsatsuma (November - December)
Lime - Bearss (January - March)
Lemon - Meyer (January - June)
Orange - Washington Navel (January - March)
Grapefruit - Oro Blanco (January - February)
Orange - Valencia (May - June)
As you can see, there is something to harvest for much of the year. Not all of our trees are producing yet and in some years certain trees do not fruit but others fruit heavily. Often this depends on the amount of spring rain that we get.
More to come...