Growing fruit trees and bushes isn’t anywhere near as difficult as a lot of people think it is. In fact with the right knowledge growing fruits in your garden is relatively easy. Here in our How to Grow Fruit we provide you with all the information that you need.
Choosing Your New Plant
The first step is choosing the plants. It is recommended that you always buy certified stock (The Fruit Propagation Certification Scheme (FPCS) encourages the production and use of healthy planting stock England & Wales only) where applicable. This avoids virus problems and guarantee that they are ‘true to type’.
My son recently bought a lovely ‘pear tree’ from a large DIY chains’ garden section to find, later in the year, that it grows amazing apples.
There are three ways in which fruit trees & bushes are available; ‘Bare-Root’, ‘Containerised’ and ‘Container Grown’.
Bare-Root Stock – have been lifted from the ground and come with no soil around their roots.
- Available only when dormant (Nov to March)
- Wide choice of varieties
- Usually cheaper
- Need to be planted straightaway, but then establish well
Containerised – have been lifted from the ground and then planted in a pot with soil.
- Usually only available in autumn and winter
- More expensive than bare-root, but cheaper than container-grown
- Establish quickly, like bare-root plants
Container Grown – have been grown in the pots that you buy them in, so the roots haven’t been disturbed.
- More expensive than bare-root or containerised plants
- They may be pot-bound
- They are available all year round
- They don’t need to be planted as urgently as bare-root plants
Understanding Rootstocks (Mainly Fruit Trees)
Some cultivars (varieties) of plants do not come true from seeds. The seed from a Bramley apple will produce an apple tree, but it will not produce a Bramley apple tree.
In other words, fruit trees cannot be reproduced “true” to the original cultivar from seed. Only by grafting the scion wood (a cutting of a branch) from the original tree onto another rootstock (the base of another tree with roots) can you ensure that you get the same fruit each time.
Rootstock; is the lower part of the trunk and roots and determines the eventual height of a tree and how vigourously it grows. Specialists then combine then combine the particular variety of fruit which produces the leaves, flowers and fruit onto the rootstock. This means you are able to choose from many fruit varieties, growing at different heights suited for your outdoor space.
Some of the main rootstocks to look out for are:
- M27 – Extra dwarfing- great for containers and small spaces including balconies
- M9- Very dwarfing – great for small gardens
- M26- Dwarfing – good for an average-sized garden
- MM106- Semi-dwarfing – despite its name, better for large gardens where you have lots of space
Prepare the soil: The soil should be thoroughly dug, making sure any deep rooted weeds are removed. At the same time, incorporate some organic matter such as Manure, and a feed of Fish, Blood & Bone. Adding Mycorrhizal fungi will also help the beneficial mycelium; that plants need to grow at their optimum, to form. Whichever method of planting you are using water well after planting and cover with a layer of mulch to insulate and prevent drying out.
Bare-Root trees and plants – Dig a planting hole 15cm (6in) wider than the root system once it has been spread out, and to a depth where the soil mark from the nursery on the stem of the young plant will be just covered.
For trees this should mean that the graft union (the knobbly part at the base of the stem) is about is 12-15cm (5-6in) above soil level when you have finished planting. Again for trees if you are going to use a stake, knock this into the ground before adding the tree so that you do not damage any roots.
After placing the plant in the hole, spread out the roots and add layers of soil, firming down well as you go. Repeat until you’ve filled the hole with soil. The plant should be firm enough in the soil that it does not up-root when you pull the main stem and it shows resistance.
Potted or Container trees and plants – Before planting soak the rootball of your containerised tree with water and some organic fertiliser, this will give it a good start when it comes to growing in its new environment.
Dig a hole to about 7-10cm (3-4 in) bigger than the dimensions of the rootball.
Take the root-ball out of the original container and place it in the hole. NB – The top of the rootball should be flush with the level of the ground.
Fill the sides with a mixture of dug-out soil and organic matter, compressing the soil around the plant/tree firmly but gently. After planting it should resist when you pull up the main stem gently.
Information that applies to specific fruits will be coming shortly; When to Plant, How to Prune, Best Varieties
- Apples & Pears
- Damsons & Plums
- Currants: Black, Red & White