Grow an apricot tree in your backyard Photo:
Even a small garden can yield heavy crops of fruit. The choice of what to grow is governed by the family’s tastes and by the amount of space you have. When making your plans, bear in mind the area a tree will occupy at maturity. To save space, consider planting multi-grafted trees, which usually have two to four varieties on the same plant. These are compatible for pollinating. Varieties grafted onto dwarfing or semi-dwarfing rootstock also save space – many grow well in large pots. Trained as espaliers, fans or cordons, fruit trees can make effective screens against walls and fences. In the early years, grow salad crops or strawberries between trees to make good use of the ground. As the trees mature, they will cast too much shade for you to grow crops under them. You should also decide on a balance between soft fruits and tree fruits. The soft berry fruits are produced on bushes, canes or low-growing plants. They bear crops sooner after planting than fruit trees and often give a better return for the area they occupy. Fruit trees will eventually produce heavy yields in good seasons, and the surplus can always be preserved.
Drawing up a plan
To help to decide what fruits to grow, and where best to plant them, draw up a plan.
Make a list- Make a list of fruits in order of your family’s preference. Fit these into the plan, working out how many trees and bushes you will need by checking the specific fruit. Choose varieties to suit your taste, your region and the specific site. Avoid planting fruit trees in the vegetable garden, as they will shade other plants and affect your cropping plans. If soft fruit bushes or canes are to be planted in this area, form a block at one side of the plot so they do not interfere with crop rotation. Choose a sunny wall or fence for espaliered fruit trees or cordons. Or train them as screens. Decide what to grow as feature trees beside the lawn or at the back of flowerbeds. Cherries, apples and pears on dwarfing rootstocks are best in cooler climates. A plum on dwarfing stock would work in a large garden. Be sure you choose a self-fertile variety if you are planting only one tree. You will probably not have space for the fruits at the bottom of your list. Don’t be tempted to plant trees, bushes and canes too close together to squeeze them in, as they will not do well.
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