There's nothing quite like reaping the rewards of a successful harvest. Knowing that every ripened plum, pear and apple is a product of your steady and patient hand Ã¢â?¬â?? that every droplet of sweet juice running down your chin is equalled by the sweat which brought you here Ã¢â?¬â?? is blissful.
But how do I achieve this feeling? How do I grow my very own fruit?
You don't have to be an expert gardener to boast a successful crop of fruit. All you need is patience and the know-how.
The fruit you'll find on a fruit tree varies from apples and pears to cherries and plums. Anything you can get your hands on, I'd encourage you to do so. Variety is always welcomed in the garden.
So whether you grow more than Granny Smith, or have never planted so much as a pea, this article will guide you through the simple process of planting fruit trees in your garden.
The following instructions are general guidelines for grafted trees/bare root fruit trees only (saplings which have already grown a little). Always be sure to follow instructions directly from your supplier. If you are growing fruit trees from seeds then follow the step by step instructions on the packaging, for optimal growth.
When you buy your bare root fruit tree, it will be delivered to you in a dormant state. You want to plant it as soon as possible! If there are unexpected problems in the garden (which can happen from time to time) then place the tree in a bucket half filled with water. A tree can survive a maximum of a week in this state. Anything longer and it will begin to decay. If there is no permanent fixture for the sapling, plant it somewhere temporarily.
So where do I plant my bare root fruit tree?Ã?Â
You want to plant it somewhere open and with enough sunlight. Most fruit trees need at least six hours sunlight per day (and in Scotland we are lucky if we get 6 hours of sun throughout the entire summer). Take into account that the tree will grow and shift, so keep it away from shaded areas.
Soil is vital to good growth. Make sure to double check with your supplier which soil will best suit their particular fruit tree. If you have any questions or queries on types of soil, have a look at this previous article:
Fruit trees will need a well drained soil (which can be achieved through breaking up the soil prior to planting) with plenty of nutrients. To increase the nutritious value of your soil, combine it with some fertiliser, leaf mould or manure. Again, always double check with a supplier before changing the soil content Ã¢â?¬â?? there might be something which your particular brand of fruit is adverse to. Do not make the soil too rich! If you do, the tree will become accustomed to this and, when the soil decreases in nutritious value, it will struggle with survival.
Planting in the spring is best since it will encourage early adaption. That is not to say that planting in autumn, summer, even winter, will kill the crop. It will still grow, just taking much longer instead.
Before you plant the tree, remove all weeds and plants within a 1m2 radius. You know how athletes enjoy competition to push them farther and faster? Fruit trees are the complete opposite, with competition posing potentially adverse effects, from stunted growth to rot. The same consideration should be held when applying leaf mould around the tree (too concentrated contact with the trunk and rot becomes a risk).
Digging a hole for the tree is simple enough. You want it to be a third wider than the roots, so that they have room to spread Ã¢â?¬â?? trees tend to grow outwards as well as upwards. The depth will vary depending on the tree but, whatever depth, ensure the roots are fully immersed and the graft is above soil level. It's a baby tree, remember, and you want to make sure it can breathe.
When you come to placing the tree in the hole, spread out the roots as well as possible, keeping the trunk straight.
Now you can fill the hole back in. Do so gently, being sure not to compress the soil. As with before, we do not want to smother the tree.
If the sapling appears weak, use a stake for support. This can be removed once the tree begins to take hold and bear fruit.
With any plants, water is important. Fruit trees are absolutely no exception. Especially in their first year, a fruit tree will require a good deal of water (although be sure not to drown it).
An efficient way to water your tree, and make sure the moisture reaches the base of the roots, is by burying a length of tubing alongside the tree, with one end protruding above the soil. In the sides of the plastic tube, cut a number of small holes. Pour water into the top of the tube and, like a sieve, it will leak to all parts of the root.
There is one final step, vital to maintaining a successful fruit tree: pruning. You want to cut away all excess growth for a number of reasons. These include:
Thinning out your fruit crop will aid in the growth of your tree, lower the risk of branch snapping and assist in the growth of whatever fruit you leave.
When is the best time to prune your tree? Well, it varies between fruit (and suppliers). Apple and pear trees are best pruned during the winter months, November to February, while cherry, plum, apricot and peach trees should be pruned during the summer.
Remember, pruning is not just about what is on the tree, but what is around it. This means always weeding and removing excess plant growth.
So what are you waiting for? It really is that simple! Follow these steps and, within a few years (depending on fruit and supplier), your garden could be the fruit-bearing envy of all your friends and neighbours.
If you do decide to grow fruit trees, or have some already, send Fraser C. Robb your photos and they will put them on their social media pages.
By Dylan Blyth.
We sell and service all types of Agricultural and Horticultural Machinery, from lawnmowers for small gardens to tractors. We are approved dealers for many brands including Stihl, Toro, Hayter, Mountfield, Cub Cadet, Stiga, Iseki, Yamaha, Kawasaki, Scag, Jenz, Major
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