Fruit Trees

Fruit Trees General

Trees should be between 18 months and two years old when you buy them. The trees should be of ‘professional’ quality, carefully pruned and root pruned by the nursery so they are perfect for planting straight away.

Position
Fruit trees will grow well on most soil types provided the ground is not waterlogged. Plenty of sunlight is essential however and areas of deep shade should be avoided. Areas that have previously grown fruit should not be used to lessen the risk of ‘re-plant disease’.

Ground Preparation and Planting
Soil should be well cultivated a few days before planting to at least two spade depths and a generous amount of garden compost or well rotted manure incorporated. A dressing of bone meal at 105-140 grams per square meter, (3-4oz per square yard) may also be applied. Your trees must be planted as soon as possible after purchase. If this is not possible trees can be kept in a cool place such as a garden shed for up to a week provided the roots remain moist. If planting is not possible within this time, ‘heel’ the trees into a sheltered spot in the garden by digging a hole and firming soil over the roots.

When planting into final position a hole should be dug that is around 15cm (6") wider than the root spread of the tree and deep enough to allow the tree to be comfortably planted at the depth that it was originally growing in (look for the soil mark on the stem). Before planting the tree, roots should be soaked for about 4 hours. Plant by placing tree into hole, spreading out the roots. Fill using layers of soil, firming each one with the foot before proceeding with the next.

Water in well after planting. Many fruit trees have relatively shallow root systems so use a high quality stake that can be left in place for a number of years. To prevent damage use a purpose made soft tree tie that can be loosened periodically as the tree grows. If a tree stake is used this should be inserted before planting to avoid root damage.

Aftercare
Water regularly in hot dry weather and keep the area around your tree free from weeds.

Diagram by Graham Burnett

Pruning
The basis of all pruning is to maintain a balanced tree with a pleasing shape and a good open structure that allows plenty of light and air to get to the ripening fruits. Poorly placed, damaged and diseased branches should be removed and a constant supply of new branches encouraged as the younger wood is far more productive and gives fruit of the highest quality.