LIKE GRANDCHILDREN, fruit trees are an investment in the future. Almost 30 years ago, Frank Bissett planted six fruit trees behind his new home in Northborough. The sweet cherry didn’t live long, and the sour pie cherry died three years ago. But the Bosc and Bartlett pear trees and the tart Granny Smith and Golden Delicious apple trees pump out bushels of fruit each fall to share with his 13 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren, almost none of whom were born when the trees were planted.
Any fruit tree in bloom is a vision of beauty and cultivated with little effort, but the fruit is harder to come by. Bissett sprays his trees — all of them semi-dwarfs of about 20 feet tall — each March with dormant oil, a refined-petroleum product designed to smother pests and some diseases. He also treats them in April with a general-purpose orchard spray, using a Mantis sprayer. “I limit my spraying. I don’t try to grow perfect fruit. I grow fruit I can eat.”