All about backyard fruit trees
One of life’s greatest simple pleasures must surely be picking and eating fruit straight off the tree, and better yet, your own trees. While once most people had at least a couple of backyard fruit trees, these days fewer people are growing them. Often this is due to a lack of space, or an aversion to the mess of fallen fruit. But there are ways around these issues, and plenty of good reasons to plant fruit trees.
Community fruit and nut trees used to be highly valued as providing a core part of people’s diets, and a valuable supplement in times of seasonal scarcity. Planting fruit trees is a good move towards community food security, for both current and future generations.
And it’s not only people that benefit – bees, butterflies and other pollinators will value the pollen and nectar of the flowers. Bees especially like apple and peach trees, as well as blackberries, raspberries and strawberries. Consider at least two trees of the same variety, as well as some herbs and wildflowers to create a haven for some very happy bees. Fruit trees also attract other insects and caterpillars that are an essential food source for birds.
Picking the fruits of your labours might also not take as long as you think – using grafted fruit trees, you could be seeing your first harvest within two to three years for most varieties. And a great idea for small spaces is multi-grafted trees or multi-planting (where up to four different fruit trees are planted in the same hole) – this way you’ll be getting a range of fruit and cross-pollinating varieties, a veritable fruit salad tree!
Another excellent option for growing fruit trees in a small space is to use the espalier form, which is the ancient horticultural practice of controlling plant growth by pruning and tying the branches in such a way that they grow into a flat plane, usually against a structure like a wall, fence, or trellis.
Deciduous fruit trees are also often available as dwarf trees, reaching only 3m in height, and can be grown in a large pot if they are pruned well.
Fallen fruit should be picked up as soon as possible and either used up or composted. If you have the space for a few chickens, let them run under the trees, and they’ll soon take care of any windfall. Avoid waste by diligently picking off ripe and near-ripe fruit.
Australian expert arborist, James O’Brien of OB Trees, is passionate about growing trees of all kinds and has extensive experience in fruit tree management and pruning as well as tree removal, vegetation management and landscaping.
“With the largely temperate climate we enjoy in Melbourne, plenty of fruit tree varieties can flourish here. Planting fruit trees requires a bit of planning, and you need to know how big the tree will get to ensure you have enough space, as well as which direction it faces to ensure the area gets enough sun. Most fruit trees prefer a full days sun if they can get it, as well as a wind-protected spot.
Deciduous fruit trees such as apples, plums, nectarines, peaches and pears require pruning and shaping to maximise fruit production, to ensure a good size crop and to keep the trees healthy. They may also need a cross-pollinating tree to be planted nearby,” says O’Brien.
Whether you have existing fruit trees that need pruning or are just starting out with planting fruit trees in your garden, OB Trees can assist with their professional expertise and friendly service.
OB TREES Arborist and Vegetation Management Specialists service southeast Melbourne suburbs. And specialise in professional tree care, providing fast, simple solutions for all your pruning, horticultural and landscaping needs. The team are fully qualified, insured arborists with years of hands-on experience in everything from tree pruning, removal and preservation to hedge trimming, risk management and tree obstruction resolution.
For further information visit OB TREES Arborist and Vegetation Management Specialists or call their friendly team on +61 435 912 457
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