When, Where and How to Grow Fruit Trees
One of the most rewarding aspects of home gardening is to succeed in growing fruit trees right there in your own backyard. It is possible even in the suburbs to create a miniature orchard of your favorite ones, growing fresh, ripe fruit for all to share.
The hard work begins in earnest from the start of winter until the end of winter. This includes, planting new trees, pruning and shaping existing ones, or any moving and transplanting should be done during this time.
Towards the end of winter and close to early spring, as the weather warms and the days extend, most trees are beginning to grow tender, new roots. Any movement such as planting or transplanting can damage these roots. In the least it may lose one year of valuable growth and at worst – well, I think you know.
Choosing the right type of fruit to grow is entirely a personal choice. In Melbourne, Australia you can choose from several varieties of, peaches, apples, cherries, apples, and pears, pomegranates and persimmons, plums, apricots, almonds walnuts, and chestnuts. This is just to name a few, not including berry or grape types which are also suited to Melbourne’s temperate climate.
A key thing to remember when buying any fruit producing trees is that some types call for a cross-pollinator. This is important for trees like cherries, some almond types, pears, apples, and plums. Even trees which are self-fertile can benefit from having a different variety of the same fruit as a cross pollinator, but still often manage to produce enough seasonal fruit to keep their owners happy.
Several dwarf varieties of fruit trees are now becoming available, but at a premium price. The process involved in grafting fruit scions onto rootstocks which will keep them miniature is more tedious and costly. However, the benefits of dwarfed fruit trees are fantastic.
– They can easily be grown in pots
– Are readily transportable should you need to change address
– Are much easier to prune and otherwise maintain
– Small backyards can support several fruit tree types
Some fruit trees can prove high maintenance, particularly around the Melbourne area and similar temperate climate locations. While fruit trees such as, plums, prunes, almonds, chestnuts, walnuts, quinces, persimmons, and walnuts grow with very little to no maintenance, other trees do need attention.
Fruit trees such as peaches and nectarines can suffer from curly leaf, a disease which ultimately causes leaf loss. The tree does need to be sprayed just before spring with a curly leaf spray. These and other fruit trees can be affected by fungal disease, white fly, aphids, caterpillars, slugs and snails. There are remedial chemicals available on the market and a plethora of bio-organic and natural, homemade remedies. A check on the net can eventually set you in the right direction.
Other items to consider when planting fruit trees are:
Good Soil with Plenty of Composted Material
If you live on clay soil or otherwise have unsuitable soil, you can easily convert this into a suitable growing medium. Regular incorporation of Gypsum aids clay soils. Nutrient deficient soils can have a trailer load of well rotted manure dug in with the existing soil. Keep hard soil soft and loosened and give fruit trees a good dose of fertiliser just on spring.
A Sunny Position
Without sun fruit can rarely become sweet. Sugar comes from one place – the sun. If you want sweet fruit, the more sun the better.
Regular Water and Fertiliser
Through the growing season, you need to ensure regular watering and sufficient fertiliser. While the tree itself will benefit from manures, manure I not enough. A fruit tree while fruiting, also needs potassium to aid in the production of healthy fruit. Potassium sulphate is readily available in garden centers and can be used on fruit trees.
As for watering, set a regular pattern. Irregular or sporadic watering can cause fruit to split. While the tree is dry, the skin around the fruit calcifies or hardens. When you next water the tree, as it tries to swell it splits because the skin has lost its elasticity.
Prune And Trim Tree Correctly
When you first buy a two to three-year old fruit tree, you don’t need a tall tree or a tree with too many branches. Prune it right back to about 30cms. From the trunk. You will be living with this tree for years and most fruit trees are vigorous in growth. Prune back each winter and be sure to remove inner growth. Keep to a vase shape as best as possible, aiming always to outward growth.