fruit trees

2 Things to Know About Non-Standard Fruit Trees

A colorful variety all form the same tree.

A colorful variety all from the same tree.

Whatever type and size fruit or nut tree you decide to plant, get as much information as possible. If space is a consideration, you may well be looking into dwarf and semi-dwarf trees.

There are two main things to know first:

What is most important is the information that these trees actually are a graft between a dwarf or semi-dwarf root stock and another tree chosen for its fruit variety.
The reason this is so important is because when you plant the tree, you need to be sure the area where the graft is remains above soil level. If it becomes buried, the tree may revert back to the size of the top portion; in other words, you could end up with a standard sized tree.

A basic graft.

A basic graft.

It is pretty easy to see where the graft is, most often it is an obvious knobby area that comes out at a bit of an angle from the base of the tree. Some companies even will mark the spot with a bit of elastic tape.

The second thing you need to know is whether your tree needs a friend or not.
For many fruit trees, it is important to have another similar tree but of a different variety to insure good pollination of the fruit.
We know this is the case for apples and sweet cherries, and although not required, is better for our pear trees.
Here is some really good info for you from Colorado State University.

A second type of pear grafted onto the same tree.

A second type of pear grafted onto the same tree.

A simple solution, and especially if you do not want multiple trees, is to look for trees that have more than one variety grafted onto the same fruit stock. We have a ’3 in 1′ Pear tree that produces bartlett, anjou, and bosc pears. We also have a ’2 in 1′ which is newly planted.

One tree, three kinds of pears.

One tree, three kinds of pears.

We are really looking forward to the first fruit from our ‘all in one’ apple tree.

Even in just a small area of garden space, you can produce a wonderful variety of fresh, and hopefully organic, fruit.

Thinking of looking into fruit trees?
Grow for it!

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Categories: fruit trees, How to Grow

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Think Outside the Big Box

So far, so good.

So far, so good.

A few weeks ago we went to Home Depot for flooring. Not only did we come home with that, we bought a dwarf plum tree as well.

I couldn’t resist, what can I say.

We had a space open where an almond tree we bought from a reputable company online did not survive.
That poor tree had been pruned so severely before it was shipped, that it never recovered.
They were nice enough to give us a full refund, but that left us without almonds.
Well, temporarily anyway.

But back to the reason for this post…

Not around here.

Not around here.

We didn’t ask for help at Home Depot, nor was it offered.
And that’s okay, because this is not the first fruit tree we have purchased; we know what we are doing.
Apparently a little better than whomever made the instructions for this tree.

First off, fall is not the best time to plant a tree in the North, spring is.
But it can be done, and there was still enough time for the plant to get established before the winter comes.

And then some of the particulars were listed incorrectly as well.
Dwarf trees usually grow to only 8 ft. tall, not 12 ft.
They should be spaced 6-8 ft apart, not 12.
If you have a small yard, that’s a big difference.

Not exactly.

Not exactly.

Also note that where it reads “Dig a hole twice as wide and as deep as the pot” what it means specifically is as deep and twice as wide.
It could easily be misunderstood to mean twice as deep.

That would be bad because this is a grafted tree. You can easily see where the tree was grafted onto the rootstock, there’s a knobby spot near the base of the tree.
If this gets below ground level, the tree will revert back to a full size tree.
Instead of 8 ft. tall, it will grow 25-30 ft.

So the point here is wherever you purchase plants, especially anything perennial, be sure you know what you are doing.
Ask questions, and check the answers you get.

To be honest, this is why I usually like to go to a nursery, if only for the first time I make a specific purchase.
They tend to know what grows best in our area, and offer suggestions and hints to help things grow better.

Nothing against Home Depot, their plum tree is faring far better than the online almond tree we bought.

But if you are out and you make a spur of the moment decision, check the facts before you plant.

Fortunately we learned our lesson the hard way with oregano, and again with horseradish; and not with a tree.

Now… all we need is a good source for an almond tree.
And a new spot.

Categories: fruit trees, How to Grow

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Fruit Trees in Small Gardens -You Can Grow That!

Not long ago we looked at the espalier method of growing fruit trees. The photo on that post was of a huge garden at Kylemore Abbey in Ireland. The trees were grown against a wall as a way of increasing how much heat they received.

But the espalier method, a simple pruning and staking technique, also serves well to save space.
Here is a picture taken by my friend Jack Goldfil of allotment plots in Paris:

Jack Goldfil's allotment garden.

You can see how the trees have been pruned, allowing only the side branches to grow. These are further controlled by tying them to wires running across the whole area. Even in a garden plot this size there can be fresh fruit.

Now of course our garden areas are much larger. Still, we like to get the most from the areas we have growing. An additional concern is the squirrel population that took ever single piece of fruit from our trees last year.
Every. Single. Piece.

So we moved a few of the trees that were only put in last year and purchased a few more.

Growing fruit trees in small spaces.

What we now have are 8 semi-dwarf fruit trees, one dwarf almond tree, and 3 bush variety cherries in a bed about 22′ by 4′. Since everything was just planted this spring, we won’t prune until after the harvest.
We are also going to build a structure above to drape netting over, in an effort to keep the squirrels out.

Remember to never prune more than 1/3 of the tree branches at one time. We will prune some in the fall, and a little more in the spring, containing the area they take up.
You can also plant crops below, as pruned trees don’t cast much shade. This year we planted potatoes and covered them with straw, additionally cutting down on the need to weed.

One other thing to keep in mind is that some trees, pears for example, need more than one variety to produce fruit. You can purchase “2 in one” of “all in one” trees that have been grafted with another variety. Just be careful when you prune to keep some of each variety growing on your tree.

Here’s Jack’s gardening page:Jardiniers du 4ème, where she shares more of her beautiful photos.

youcangrowthat

You Can Grow That! is a monthly collaborative effort by gardeners around the world to encourage and help others learn to grow.
You can find additional posts by clicking on the pic above. You can also follow us on Pinterest.

Categories: fruit trees, techniques, you can grow that

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4 Basics to Backyard Fruit Trees

fruit trees in the home garden

moving day

After jokingly referring to my 5 fruit and 1 nut tree as my “Dining Room Orchard”, I finally got them all in the ground today; albeit a little later than they should have been planted.

While the experience is fresh in my head, I thought I’d share:

1. Size Matters

A standard size tree will produce the most fruit over the longest period of time. It will also take up the most space and grow the tallest- making harvesting more of a chore.
A dwarf variety is just the opposite, producing less of smaller fruit but taking the least space. It additionally has a shorter life span.
A semi-dwarf takes a medium amount of space and will produce full size fruit, but less of it than a standard. Since the trees don’t get as tall, harvesting is much easier.
I always choose semi-dwarf varieties.

2. It takes two to tango

In the case of many fruit trees, more than one variety is needed for cross pollination. If room is limited, choose varieties that have more than one type grafted onto the same root stock. Look for names such as ‘two in one’ or “all in one” which indicate you only need one tree of that type and it will pollinate itself. When planting, be sure to keep that knobby graft area 2-3 inches above ground.

3. Give them some elbow room

This is a very important step. Plant spacing with trees is every bit as important as that with veggie plants. Give them enough room so their roots can get the nutrients they need to grow well.
A general rule of thumb is take the expected height they will grow (say, 10 feet) and plant them that far apart.
I will admit I plant mine closer, but I know I am taking a chance they will not do as well.

4. Read all about it!

Read the directions that come with your plant if ordering by mail.
When buying from a nursery, don’t be afraid to ask questions and take notes.

Always compare what you read and what you hear with other information available on the subject.
Learn when and how to prune, for example; likewise on fertilizing.

plum flower buds

the future is in the flowers

Here’s my short video on How to Plant a Fruit Tree

Categories: fruit trees, How to Grow

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