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Planting fruit trees

(28 Posts)
Movingonuppppp Fri 13-Jan-17 08:12:21

I have just ordered 4 fruit trees from a garden centre. Apple, cherry, pear and plum. I'm going to plant them in a line down one side of my garden. I have these beautiful visions of packed fruit trees and blossom but obviously it will be some years before I see anything like that!

Any tips on giving young fruit trees the best start?

shovetheholly Fri 13-Jan-17 08:54:48

- Make sure the hole is really large - you want a bit of space around the roots - and filled with good stuff (compost, manure).
- If your trees are bare root, make sure the roots are given a good soaking before you plant.
- Use root grow on the roots before you plant - you can buy it in a garden centre. It's a mycorrhizal product that encourages the fungus/plant interactions at the roots that really get the trees going! Just follow the instructions on the packet.
- Take note of where the soil line has been in the nursery, and aim to replant them at the exact same level. Do not bury the graft!
- Stake them and make sure you tie them in correctly - not too loose but not too tight! It is worth watching some Youtube videos to make sure you do this right.
- Water in well after you've planted them. Keep an eye on them throughout the first year -they may need extra water if we get a dry summer.
- Try to keep a patch of earth around the trunk clear of weeds and plants so that the tree has first priority access to nutrients.

You might be surprised how quickly they flower and fruit! smile

Goodythreeshoes Fri 13-Jan-17 08:58:42

Have you got self-fertile varieties OP, or neighbours with fruit trees?
You might be in for a long wait otherwise!
Great advice from shovetheholly

bookbook Fri 13-Jan-17 08:59:08

well, I don't think I need to add anything!
Or maybe.... do you have another apple tree nearby somewhere, as they need another apple or crab apple to pollinate. I will be surprised if there isn't - one needs to be within about 40 yards ( 35 metres) if I remember, so anyone's garden nearby would do

shovetheholly Fri 13-Jan-17 09:13:58

Yes, I remember chuck (I think?) once told me that, unless you are really remote, there tend to be enough apple trees around for pollination not to be too great a worry. Which is a comforting thought when you think about it. smile Pears might be more of a problem, though even with those I can think of three trees within a relatively short distance of my house, and I'm not in a particularly garden-y area! Quite a few cherries are self-fertile now I think. Not sure about plums - but aren't Victoria self-fertile?

Movingonuppppp Fri 13-Jan-17 09:15:42

Wow! I expected a few tips but shove that was just amazing! I expect to receive the fruit trees around March time and I will be following your advice to the letter! Thanks!

Movingonuppppp Fri 13-Jan-17 09:16:30

To add - I do have an apple tree in my garden and I remember reading that one of the trees was self pollinating (the cherry maybe?)

Movingonuppppp Fri 13-Jan-17 09:19:11

This is what I'm expecting..

bookbook Fri 13-Jan-17 09:23:45

Conference pear ,Victoria plum and Stella Cherry are self fertile, so okay there - Nice choice!

shovetheholly Fri 13-Jan-17 09:27:54

grin I already drank 3 cups of coffee to keep warm, so I'm a bit over-caffeinated movingon!! Apologies if that felt like a bit of a quick-fire list!

Stella is a great cherry - the fruits are glorious and it's self-fertile, so no worries about pollination (your main problem will be the pesky birds nicking all your fruit before you get a chance to pick it!). Victoria is a self-fertile plum according to the RHS website, so you'll be fine there too.

Apples and pears - Braeburn apples are pollination group 4 from memory (I could be wrong) but I think partially self-fertile as well, which means you'll get a crop without a nearby apple of the same group, but a heavier crop will happen if there's another apple tree in flower at the same time nearby. The same is true of conference pears (pollination group 3).

shovetheholly Fri 13-Jan-17 09:28:31

Ooops x-post with book who said the same thing in about 1/10th of the words

<goes off to get more coffee>

Movingonuppppp Fri 13-Jan-17 09:39:35

Thanks all of you! shove you know everything! heres one for you all.. the apple tree I already have in my garden produces small but lovely tasting apples. I have no idea what type of apple though - how could I find out??

Movingonuppppp Fri 13-Jan-17 09:40:37

shove ihave so many questions about my garden. I'm going to be picking your brains forever.

shovetheholly Fri 13-Jan-17 09:47:55

Hahahahaha! I'm afraid I really DON'T know everything - there are lots of professional gardeners on the forum who have way more experience and expertise than I do. I try to make up for it with enthusiasm grin Very happy to try to answer questions, though I can't vouch for the answers I give!! grin

You could try this website for an ID on your apple if you can remember exactly when they fruit and what they look like in sufficient detail! However, it only covers major varieties: There are also books, like the RHS Apple Book, which has beautiful pictures:

To confirm your identification, you can take apples along to special 'apple days' in the autumn (they happen all over the country) where experts are often on hand to identify varieties/confirm your suspicions!

bookbook Fri 13-Jan-17 10:54:23

I am no wordsmith ... smile shove explains in a much more enjoyable way!
Agree about protecting the cherries from the birds, so maybe arrange to have that at the end, so you can throw protection over it.
Its hard to identify some apples, but as long as it is tasty, then all you need to do is keep an eye out for when it flowers - as long as it flowers at (aproximately) the same time as the Braeburn you will be fine. Thats what the pollination group is about

shovetheholly Fri 13-Jan-17 11:38:24

That's not true book - you write beautifully, and whatever you say is always full of both sense and kindness.

PhilODox Fri 13-Jan-17 11:40:55

Another person hoping to put in a couple this year. What a fantastic post, shove, thank you!

IAmAPaleontologist Fri 13-Jan-17 11:44:09

Jumping on here for all the get advice. We have a new house and while I don't expect I'll get much sorted I the garden for a while as the whole house needs renovating fruit trees as definitely in the plan. I'm going to put dwarf trees down one side of the garden to be trained against the fence and maybe a bigger tree down the bottom where I'm planning a bit of a natural wildflower meadow area. I'm so excited to have a garden at last!

shovetheholly Fri 13-Jan-17 12:08:20

It's so lovely to hear about people planting lots of fruit trees! grin

One thing to bear in mind about training fruit trees, i.e. not just planting them as standard trees but shaping them into fans or cordons or espaliers - is that you need the appropriate rootstock.

To explain a bit, just in case anyone doesn't know - when you buy a fruit tree from a proper nursery, what you're actually getting is a grafted tree, so you're getting a standard rootstock + a variety of apple or pear (or whatever). The rootstock controls the height of the final tree, the variety controls what kind of apple of pear it is.

Now, it might sound like you're making a small fan or espalier (or whatever) so you want a really dwarf rootstock. While that seems logical, it's actually wrong! You want quite a vigorous rootstock because you're pruning the tree like crazy to bend it into that shape. So something semi-dwarfing (which is sort of in the middle of the size range) for a smaller trained tree, or something vigorous for a bigger one. Something like an MM106 is perfect for an espalier apple in a standard back garden where you want three or four tiers. If you're looking to create something bigger, an M26 (rich soil) or M111 (poor soil) are good choices. For pears, Quince A (large) or Quince C (medium).

The cheapest way to buy these trees is to do it yourself. It's easy, but it takes a bit of guts. You start with either a 'maiden whip' (basically a tree that's a stick, with no branches) or an 'unfeathered maiden' (which has two branches at the bottom, which you want to make sure are at the right height for your first tier). You then gird your loins, take a deep breath, and send it to the guillotine, chopping off its head to just above the point where you want your first tier (unfeathered) or second (feathered). There are lots of Youtube videos that explain the pruning process better than I can without pictures!

I would recommend doing this yourself rather than buying ready-trained trees because it's way cheaper and more satisfying and you will have to learn to prune them anyway (unless this is delegated to a gardener, which is totally cheating grin ). The more you understand about how they are constructed, the easier the subsequent process will be!

shovetheholly Fri 13-Jan-17 12:10:08

Oops, I should have said - my penultimate paragraph is about creating an ESPALIER tree. Fans are done in a really similar way, however!

NigelMolesworth Fri 13-Jan-17 13:11:07

Just found this excellent advice thank you! I am awaiting the arrival of my three new apple trees which I am going to attempt to espalier against the wall in the garden. After long discussions with my DF regarding root stocks and pollination types, I have ordered one each of Sunset, Pixie and Pitmaston Pineapple. The kids tried the Pitmaston Pineapples after my parents went to an apple day and bought a big bag back for them. The bag didn't last long as they were absolutely delicious!

bookbook Fri 13-Jan-17 15:26:20

I have a sunset apple - it is gorgeous, if a little small.
Can I just add a word about cropping on apples and pears( not so sure on cherries mind as I have never had one !)
If you are buying maiden trees ( or 2 year old ) then it is a really good idea, if possible to not let them fruit for at least a year, preferably 2 , and then thin hard for the next couple of years after that. That way, you will get a stronger, and longer lasting, healthy tree that crops for a longer period of time smile

NigelMolesworth Fri 13-Jan-17 17:32:46

That's good news - and small is good for us. I wanted small lunchbox sized apples. We tend to buy smaller ones because the big ones are just too much to get through.

I will bear the fruiting situation in mind. I have bought 1yr old bare root maidens. Was assuming they wouldn't fruit for 3/4 years anyway??

Trethew Sat 14-Jan-17 09:47:23

Excellent advice here but can I add one last piece. March is getting late for planting bare root trees and hey will not have much time to establish roots before the leaves open. You will need to be specially careful to keep them watered in dry spells for this first season

JeffreySadsacIsUnwell Sun 29-Jan-17 08:43:25

Watching with interest - in a similar situation and trying to decide what trees to buy...

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