Substitute ornamental trees for edibles, such as apple and pear trees. Suitable for gardens of all sizes, fruit trees can be grown as hedges, specimen trees or potted plants.
Most apples and pears can now be purchased on dwarf rootstocks, making it much easier to grow fruit trees at home. If you are concerned about fruiting trees taking up too much space, here are a few extra tips to help you maximize your harvest and your space.
Espalier is the art of training fruiting plants against a flat wall or trellis. It’s decorative and productive, taking up minimal space with maximum impact. Dwarf rootstocks help to minimise the overall size of the mature tree, while also drastically reducing pruning requirements. Look for dwarf, semi-dwarf and step-over varieties.
Prune to a height you can reach. Keeping trees shorter saves on space and also makes harvest, maintenance and crop protection much easier tasks to conquer.
Multi-grafted trees offer several varieties on the same tree. These are a great choice when space is limited. Multi-planting is when two or three fruit trees are planted the same hole. This offers loads of plant choice in a limited space.
Potted fruit trees are perfect in small spaces, but they do require regular watering, root pruning and maintenance. Start with a pot at least 20 litres in size and a good-quality potting mix.
Ten tips for growing apples and pears:
- Plant in winter when they are available as bare root. This is when they are dormant and it will result in minimal transplant shock.
- Choose a location in full sun (five or ax hours of sunlight per day). Without adequate sunlight, they will fail to fruit.
- Prepare the soil properly by incorporating organic matter and digging a hole much larger than you need. This will allow the roots to spread effortlessly through the soil.
- Stake trees at planting to prevent root damage and to provide stability on windy days.
- Fertilise when leaves begin to appear in spring and again in autumn with aged manures, compost and seaweed solutions.
- Water frequently, especially during fruiting and institution. Automatic irrigation systems are usually the greatest as fruit trees prefer a routine supply of water.
- Prune regularly to keep trees compact and your crop within reach.
- Prevention is preferable to cure, so spray at bud burst or you see signs of infestation.
- Organic and chemical sprays can be found, so read the labels.
- Pick at the ideal time for eating. With most apples lasting several weeks in the crisper fruit can be kept in many ways. Otherwise, stew cook, brew or freeze your crop for maximum flavour and to reap all the rewards of your homegrown homegrown produce.
Kids love tending to apples and pears – picking them in your own backyard is so much fun. Pears will not ripen well on trees. The best way to ripen them is at room temperature placed in a paper bag, or with bananas or apples.