Rich pickings - now is the time to plant fruit trees
PUBLISHED: 11:30 18 November 2014 | UPDATED: 12:01 18 November 2014
Plant trees now and enjoy the fruits of your labours for many years to come
If you thought you could snooze in the greenhouse during the less vigorous growing months of early winter then think again.
November is a great month to increase your fruiting crops. Select suitable sites now, ideally sunny and sheltered, as the soil remains warm and the plants are dormant.
Blueberries, rhubarb, fruit trees, figs and container fruit can all be sourced from specialist growers who generally have a wide choice and highly recommended varieties. It is always worth calling and speaking to a specialist describing your site, soil and preferences to grow.
There are many exciting ways to grow fruit trees. If you have plenty of open space you can develop a small orchard of standard trees. Make sure you know about the pollinating groups for apples and pears, and whether your choice of stone fruit trees are self-pollinating varieties.
A well-drained, sunny, sheltered site away from frost pockets is perfect, but most of us have to compromise. Don’t be deterred if your conditions seem limiting, there are plenty of smaller varieties of most fruits which grow very successfully in containers – in fact figs love to be restricted in a large pot – or as single trunk ballerina trees. You will be surprised at the amount of fruit you will harvest.
The priority here is to select a pot bigger than the root system, with drainage holes, and layer its base with bits of crockery, planting the young tree at the same mark as the original soil, back filling with John Innes no.3 and keeping the roots moist.
If your garden isn’t sunny for many daylight hours, seek out varieties of fruits that are content to grow in shade or against a north-facing wall, such as Grenadier, an early season cooking apple, Czar plum, Morello cherry or Merryweather damson.
Training a bare-rooted young tree can be hugely rewarding. The choices of ways to train – for example, espaliers, cordons, fans – will accommodate the space you have. You can make your own supports, south or west-facing, with posts and wires to maximise your growing potential.
Blueberries are a slight exception to the fruit rules. They are easy to grow in pots, but require a moist, acidic soil with a pH of 4-5.5. Ericaceous compost can be purchased at garden centres which will satisfy their growing needs. Most varieties are self-fertile, but growing a few different varieties close together in pots will guarantee good pollination.