Guide to Fruit Trees
Guide to Fruit Trees
There is a fruit tree to suit every garden
The changeable climate of the UK helps to concentrate fruit flavour, making it a fantastic place for growing fruit trees. It can seem daunting, but stick to fruit that is less troubled by problems, low-maintenance and importantly, self-fertile, so you don't need pollination partners to guarantee a crop. Then look forward to delicious Summer/Autumn harvests year after year.
Factors to consider when choosing your tree
All fruit trees need a sunny site. Other points that you need to consider include:
- The size of your garden
- The size of the space where your tree will be planted
- The size the tree will grow to
- Whether the tree will be self pollinating or needs another fruit tree to help pollination
What to buy
If you have limited space look out for the fan or espalier trees which are trained to grow against a wall or fence and usually come with 2 tiers of branches.
A key factor in getting a successful crop is the tree's rootstock. To ensure a productive tree, nurseries attach part of one tree to another recommended for growing fruit. This is called grafting, allowing you to benefit from the healthy root stock of one tree and the tasty fruit of another. Root stocks come in various sizes. Look for one labelled M27 or M9 which suit most gardens.
There is an apple tree to suit every garden. Cox's Orange Pippin is a classic full flavoured english apple or try Laxton's Superb which arguably has the best flavour of all. Sunset and Spartan are great choices for small gardens or choose James Grieve if you want to make superlative apple juice, not forgetting the most famous cooking apple of all, Bramley Seedling.
Both Morello and Stella Cherries are self -fertile so can be happily grown alone and if you like pears the conference produces very reliable crops every year. The Victoria Plum is another classic, but how about trying the Czar dark purple plums which are ideal for a north facing wall.
- Water the tree in its container
- Work in lots of compost into the ground where it will be planted
- If you are on heavy clay soil, mix in a couple of bucketfuls of grit or sharp sand to improve aeration and drainage
- Dig a hole a third wider than the roots and to the same depth as the tree roots and then firm the bottom of the hole into a slight mound
Planting your Tree
The best time to plant your tree is in the Autumn before the frosts, but they can be planted any time up until May if the weather is kind
- Tap the tree out of its container and insert it into the hole without breaking up the root ball
- If the roots are very tightly coiled round the inside of the pot, gently tease a few loose with your fingers before popping it into its planting hole
- Make sure the top of the root ball is barely buried under the soil surface
- It is important not to bury the graft union – the strange knobbly bulge about six inches up from the top of the root ball
- Hammer in a strong stake
- Fill the planting hole with a half-and-half mixture of topsoil and organic matter, firm the roots gently in
- Attach the base of the tree to the stake
- Finish off with a good watering