When visiting a supermarket have you never wished you had a few garden fruit trees? Have you ever noticed how purchased fruit these days is bit inconsistent in quality? Sometimes it will be fine, but mostly is tasteless, too hard or too soft. The pears are rock hard, you can push your fingers through the plums, and the peaches start growing mould before they are soft enough to eat.
Some of this has to do with forced growing and artificial fertilizers, and some on picking too early, and being left to ripen during shipping. Much of the foreign grown fruit is picked unripened, and then ripened in the ship’s hold. This leads to fruit with the taste and texture of wet cardboard. Why not grow your own? It is both cheaper and better for you, and the taste is far superior to anything grown and shipped from thousands of miles away, and fed on who knows what.
Even a small garden can be used for growing fruit trees, and there are apples, peaches, pears, cherries and plums suitable for the smallest garden. And these are just a few of what is available that be grown in shapes suitable for training along fences and walls, and up garden mesh and netting. You don’t need a massive orchard for garden fruit trees any more if you know how to train them properly, and what varieties are best for growing in your local conditions.
If your garden is susceptible to early frosts, you should purchase trees that flower later, or you will lose the flowers before they can develop into fruit. Irrespective of your conditions, you should be able to grow a selection of apples, pears, plums and so on and even apricots and peaches if you have a reasonable amount of sun. Even grapes can be grown in temperate climates.
You should buy your stock from a good supplier that knows what you need for the areas in which you live. It is always best to buy local, since if they can grow it then so can you. Many people travel to warmer climates and return with fruit trees that looked great in 35 degrees of sun, but are stunted in your chillier 25 degrees. You should choose a selection of fruits suitable for your climate, and at least two of each. There are some self-pollinating varieties of fruit around, but it is safer to have two trees – you also get more fruit! If you are purchasing more than one variety of each fruit, then make sure that their pollen is compatible. In fact if you are buying two trees for pollination, then they should be different species, but compatible with each other. Your supplier will have this information for you.
You should also check out the fruit provided by each and make sure that it is what you are looking for. You don’t want a Bramley tree if you want a desert apple, and some plums are naturally sour while others are sweeter. The same is true of grapes, and some of the sweetest wines can come from very sour grapes. Make you’re your vines are desert grapes, and not cultivated for winemaking unless they are also suitable for eating.
The rootstock is very important, because fruits trees are generally propagated on rootstocks. Depending on the rootstock, an apple tree can grow to 5 ft or 25 ft in height and spread. The size of the tree will be determined by the size of your garden, so you should check with your supplier what the eventual size will be.
When buying a fruit tree, keep in mind that the older tress can be hard to transplant, so try to get a tree no more than two years old. Don’t purchase too young or you might have to wait some years for a fruit, and the best type of plant is a bare root plant rather than ones in containers. If your garden is small, then many species of most fruits are suitable for espalier, fans and cordons. In a small garden, the cordons take up least space and provide a good crop of fruit from a single supported stem. However, if you have a lot of fencing space, or can put up a few trellises, then fans and espaliers would make good use of that space. Most fruit trees can be grown in that form.
Irrespective of whether you grow the full sized trees, or in dwarf or trained form, garden fruit trees will provide you with fruit that is ripened on the tree and that tastes like fruit and not cotton wool. If you are careful with your source of supply, and ensure that your variety is suitable for your climate, then there is no reason why you should not be a successful fruit grower, independent of supermarkets for your fresh fruit.