Enjoy growing your own fruit at home
There is nothing better than picking your own fruit off your own tree and eating it straight from picking! It really is the simple things and we are here to start a revolution of fruit growing around the country.
If you have a nice open plot to grow your trees on then work away but we are also encouraging you to think about other areas that you could grow fruit trees. How about a school project?
We were planting up an avenue at our children’s school with trees and thought, why not plant fruit trees for the kids to enjoy? So we planted a row along the avenue to the school gate, keeping them low enough so that they could pick the fruit.
How about a green area? Or a sports club or community centre. Your local rugby, soccer or GAA club will usually have an area at the front that is open and unused, why not plant two or three fruit trees? They tend to be the most inexpensive trees starting at a young but already fruiting three year old tree from €25.
If you have a green area why not talk to your residents association about planting a grouping of fruit trees, wouldn’t the kids and adults alike love the idea of picking fruit during the late summer and autumn? Wouldn’t it be lovely if one of the the local residents had time to make an apple or pear tart for the neighbours?
Let's all join the movement to grow more fruit trees within our community.
Fruit trees need full sun to thrive. Apples, pears, and plums are tolerant of less-than-ideal conditions, they don’t want to be waterlogged and as long as they have good air flow around them, they will fruit well, especially in a good summer.
Food and Water
Though fruit trees often prosper with only minimal care, paying attention to their needs will reward you with a larger, more flavorful crop. Water newly planted trees whenever the top two inches of soil are dry.
An espaliered plum tree
As the plants develop more extensive root systems, you can water less often — but keep in mind that, to produce a juicy crop, all fruit trees must be watered in dry periods. Mulching helps conserve the moisture and keeps in the organic matter around the roots.
As a commercial grower we use a rigid fertilise regime to have our trees looking their best but getting the best growth and root structure in the pots but as a home grower and with the tree planted into the open soil your tree will require only minimal feeding.
It’s best to base your fertilising schedule on the growth of the tree, If it’s growing satisfactorily, its nutrient needs are being met. If its performance is below par, though, apply a high-nitrogen fertiliser in early spring.
First and foremost, it’s highly recommended that you prune your fruit trees to a manageable height. Although the thought of a 20-foot apple tree may seem appealing, think of the practicalities — even if you manage to reach the ripe apples at the top of the tree, what will you do with that much fruit? Trim to a height that will allow you to easily harvest and prune. If you can’t reach above your head and easily pick fruit from the tree’s tallest branch, it’s likely too tall. Pruning will not only make your life easier but will make the tree healthier too.
When it’s cold, prune for shape: February and March are the ideal months to do your winter pruning.
Try your best to prune during a dry spell without a chance of frost, as fresh cuts on your tree can be particularly susceptible to moisture and cold. Since the majority of fruit trees are deciduous, winter is an excellent time to prune for shape without leaves or fruit cluttering your view.
Remove crossing branches, anything that’s growing back into the centre of the tree, or limbs that are broken or dead. The shape of the tree is up to you, but make sure its centre is open and uncluttered–it’s important that air can move freely through the branches once the warmer weather returns and the tree is again covered in fruit and leaves.
Styles of fruit trees
We always have a good range of fruit trees which include some larger trees and also some shaped fruit trees. Why not consider an espaliered or even a fan trained tree if you have a south facing wall that they can grow against? Or if you prefer a vineyard-style, row along the garden.
Our mature trees are good and strong and ideal for if you are considering an orchard style garden. With a good range of pears, plums and apples in some of our personal favourite varieties we have every kind of tree you could wish for.
Hope this is of some help to you, see our weekly column in the Kildare Post every week - Jo.