Growing Different Fruit Varieties for Your Garden
If you hope to grow a good crop of fruit varieties, you need to choose them carefully. Some trees which we call self-fertile, bear blossom which fertilizes its own. But there are others that will not set fruit unless pollen from another tree of the same kind is available. If no tree is close you can gather a flowering branch from one a distance away and set it in a jar of water pushed into the ground near your own tree.
In fact, it is not wise to plant an apple by itself, for even the self-fertile fruit varieties of tree are improved by crossed pollination. Apple blossom opens at different times, so one needs to choose varieties that will be in blossom simultaneously. When you go to a nurseryman to choose your fruit, he will advise you which are good cross pollinators to plant with the varieties you particularly want. In good catalogues this is also pointed out.
If you are planning the garden, it is much better to plant fruit varieties of the same kind near each other. But this does not necessarily mean that you must plant the same variety, for it makes no difference to the pollination if one is a cooking variety and one is a dessert.
If you intend growing a lot of fruit varieties, bear in mind that you will need to plant a succession, otherwise everything will come at once. With a little planning you can extend the season. Apples will ripen from August onwards until January according to their varieties. There are some that can be kept as late as April. Pears mature from July to the New Year. Plums do not keep, but they will fruit either in August, September or October.
You can buy different types of fruit trees. One-year-old trees are known as maidens, and you can train these into any form you wish. It is advisable, when ordering them, to tell the nurseryman how you intend to train them. Bush trees are useful for small gardens because you can pick fruit from them easily. But on the other hand a standard tree, that is one on a long trunk, will rise well above yourand looks lovely as a special tree for a lawn. Standard trees are usually on six foot stems. Half standards are much shorter, usually about 41 feet. Espalier trees are like a ladder with a centre stem. Bush trees need to be about 12 feet apart for apples and pears but further apart for plums and other stone fruits. Pyramid trees, that is trees trained in a pyramid shape, can be grown as close as six feet.
The best space savers are cordon trees. These are grown on one stem only (this is the sort of thing you buy a maiden tree for) and you can plant cordons as close as 3j- feet. Don’t attempt to grow cordon trees unless you are a keen gardener, for you must keep them well pruned in winter and in summer.
Best for walls are fan trained trees, and fan training particularly suits the stone fruit, including peaches, nectarines and apricots.
Y can get plants from the best growers in the country for a higher prce. And going to the best nurseries will give you further practical advantages such as expert advice. Send a sample of yourwhen ordering so that the best plants on the most suitable rootstock can be chosen for you.
Do accept this expert advice. England’s gardens are crammed (to take only one example) with Cox’s Orange Pippin trees that will never do well because they are in a cold wet soil or a hot dry one.
Any soil that will grow weeds will grow fruit, with the possible exception of pure chalk. But this doesn’t mean that soils need not be improved. Greatest danger with fruit is water-logging, so if your soil is heavy, with a clay subsoil, dig deep, loosen the lower layers before planting. If your soil is very badly drained, dig deeply (at least 2-3 feet), bury some large stones, half bricks, large clinkers in the base, cover with at least six inches of soil and then work on this base.
A very light sandy soil again presents difficulties. In this case, incorporate good leaf mould, rich compost or well rotted manure in the planting holes. In other words, enrich the humus-making content of the soil.
Some fruit varieties will grow almost anywhere in this country, but some varieties are susceptible to frost damage. Do not plant fruit (unless you have reason to know local conditions) until you have experienced one spring and winter or have taken local advice.
Stone fruit varieties generally are grown as standards, half standards or bushes, for they fruit on young wood and intensive for shape is death to the crop ! In fact, one sees so much bad pruning that I am tempted to say to the novice, “don’t bother if you don’t know”. Stone fruits though may be fan-trained (usually they are bought ready trained) and this makes them convenient plants to grow flat against a wall and fence. Pruning here consists in retaining the fan outline but filling it with young fruiting shoots. Those that are growing naturally to one side or another are tied, as soon as they are large enough, to guide wires stretched across the wall, about a foot apart, one above the other. Obviously shoots which tend to grow outwards are an embarrassment. These are “rubbed out” when they are quite young to prevent them developing.
Fruit trees, are not grown commercially from seeds or cuttings but good varieties are grafted on to several types of root stock, young vigorous trees, which are not allowed to develop their own growth. This instead is diverted into the “scion” portions of branch of good varieties grafted below the bark of the stock. Some stocks are dwarfing, some vigorous. It is not necessary here to go deeper into this somewhat complex matter except to urge that when buying fruit stock all relevant information should he given to the supplier so that he. Can choose the right stock for your own particular soil, situation and requirement. Obviously in a small garden dwarfing stocks are best.
Fruit trees can be planted any time between November and the end of March. Principles are exactly the same as for all tree and shrub planting except that on heavy soils rather more attention should be given to obtaining good.
If there is room in the garden, it is best to grow apples in grass. This way they get a better colour, because potash is more accessible. Dress the grass in February with sulphate of ammonia and potash, roughly one ounce of each. Initial planting should be in a small bed or circle of cleared. Land about 4 feet in diameter, which should be kept clear for the first two years. After this time, the trees should be well established and grass may be allowed to grow up to the stem. If fruit is grown on cleared land it should receive annual mulches .of grass cuttings, decayed manure, good compost or leafmould. These mulches may be quite thick, I have seen them a foot deep, but should not be allowed actually to touch the tree or bark or are likely to start a form of stem rot.