Soils and Conditions of the Site

As a rule, the amateur fruit-grower has little choice of soil or even . He has to accept the soil and site on which his house is built. If, however, he wishes to plan his garden to the best advantage, he must know the that suit the different kinds of fruit. The conditions most favorable for soft fruit are described under each fruit.

Apples, pears, plums and other top fruits can all be grown successfully on many different types of soil, but the ideal one is probably a slightly acid, fairly deep, well-drained, medium loam. Dessert apples, especially ‘Cox’s Orange Pippin’, require the best positions, soils and drainage. Pears are rather less tolerant of very dry conditions than are apples. Plums and cooking apples can be grown satisfactorily in a wider range of soils and conditions. Heavy soils will give good results, provided drainage is good and the ground is well prepared with the subsoil thoroughly broken up. Gravel and chalk soils are not good, but if they are well trenched and plenty of dung or composted material is incorporated with the subsoil, results may be reasonable. Light, dry soils present a problem, but here again generous applications of organic manures or compost before planting will help considerably.

Frost can have a serious effect on fruit. Cold air, being heavier than warmer air, tends to collect in pockets in low-lying ground, particularly in valleys where there is no outlet for it. Such frost pockets should be avoided if possible. It is very difficult to obtain regular crops in such situations without elaborate precautions. Some of fruits are less prone to frost damage and these are indicated in the lists of recommended cultivars. In the case of cordons and small trees some protection against late spring frosts can be given with sacking, frost proof mats or hessian supported on a framework, but this must be made very secure so that the blossoms or fruitlets are not damaged.

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