Fruit tree maintenance
Here are a few quick-fire ideas to get the best out of your fruit trees in the future… and it all starts by planting (and some pruning) in the winter!
1) Do your home work – select tree varieties you actually like to eat! (or like the look of – blossom?)
2) Buy good stock from good nurseries and check if they need specific pollinators (ie Plums!!)
3) Dig your holes in the garden and prepare the soil with organic material (compost). If your soil is sometimes too wet, perhaps think about raising the planting area a bit.
4) No need to fertilise until spring truly starts (23 Sept) when the soils warm up and trees start to “function” again.
5) When you plant your trees, either from potted specimens or “bare-rooted” trees, a light prune will help the tree survive the planting shock. Think about the fact that the amount of root mass should be more-or-less the same as the branch mass above the ground.
6) If you plant a new tree, think about how you want that tree to grow in a three-dimensional way: create a branch structure that will be the tree’s future “look” – not too high (so you can harvest easily) and think about wind and sun-direction (maybe espalier the tree? If so, does it need support?)
7) Talking about support: any tree that’s planted on an exposed site will need a stake to stop it from wiggling-to-death. Tie it down to the support system.
8) Handy tip for gardens with limited space: either get a multi-grafted tree (with two or three different varieties grafted onto one root-stock) or plant a few varieties (of the same fruit: apple or pear or plum or peach) in the same hole and treat them as “one tree”.
9) if you have planted a tree already, you may need to prune the fruit machine.
Pomefruit (apples & pears): Think about the ultimate shape of the tree: an open frame of branches growing outwards – this is going to be a multi-year goal Learn to tell the two types of “buds”. There is a flowering bud that becomes a fruiting spur; they are usually larger and fatter and often covered with a fine, hairy “down”; fruiting spurs provide you with the fruit. The wood buds tend to be smaller and end up much closer to the stem on which they sit; these buds will grow a new branch or twig (and are therefore determining the spatial form of the tree)
Remember to cut to a wood bud that faces outward.
When your tree is a few years old, remember to leave a few fruiting buds, so you get some fruit!