Fruit Garden Planning

Probably most gardeners can devote only a modest area of land to a fruit garden and so it is important to make the fullest possible use of the space available. In a new garden some part of it should be marked off for use only for growing fruit. The planting of and trees should be planned and not done in a haphazard way as in so many old gardens. The number of and trees to be planted depends not only on the size of the fruit garden but also on the cultivars selected, on the rootstocks on which the top fruits, i.e. apples, , plums and peaches, are grown, and on the form of trees and method of which may be adopted. The main points to be observed are:

  1. grouping together of the same kinds of fruit;
  2. proportions of the areas to be devoted to soft and tree fruits;
  3. rootstocks for the tree fruits;
  4. shapes and types of tree and methods of pruning.

By grouping together the same kinds of fruit, spraying is made easier. It is also an advantage to keep together those fruits which have the same manurial requirements. For instance, apples, gooseberries and red currants need plenty of potash, whilst pears, plums and black currants require more nitrogen.

The question of the proportion of soft fruits to tree fruits is largely one of personal taste, but with a very small garden it might be best to grow mainly soft fruits with a single row of apples or pears on dwarfing rootstocks. When possible wall or fence space should also be used.

Large free-growing trees are unsuitable for most . With cordons, dwarf pyramids and other trained forms of trees which require a restrictive type of pruning, it is possible to grow many more trees in a given area and so obtain a wider variety to spread the season than could be grown if bush trees were planted.

The purchase of good healthy stock is one of the secrets of success. In soft fruits vigour may be considerably reduced through infection with virus diseases and the Ministry of Agriculture has a scheme for inspecting and granting certificates to stocks of disease-free black currants, strawberries and raspberries. Where possible always buy this Certified Stock.

Virus diseases also affect the growth and crop of tree fruits, but in recent years, nurseries have been able to obtain virus-tested cultivars and rootstocks as ‘mother’ trees which can be used for propagation. Trees of many cultivars of apple, plum, pear and cherry from these healthy sources are now available from some nurserymen.

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