This week, Donegal ETB Horticulture alumnus Mark Gormley shares his thoughts on overcoming a common problem people face when planting fruit trees in their gardens.
Have you ever thought of planting fruit trees such as pear, apple and plum, and thought to yourself you don’t have the space, or the lay of the land is just not ideal?
Fear not! I will show you the problem I encountered last season. The image below will show you surface roots of an existing tree:
The problem here is that if you dig the ground and disturb the roots, it will encourage a more fibrous root system to develop, meaning the new roots will spread further towards your property (not a great scenario).
My plan here was to install raised beds along the perimeter of the fence and fill with newly sought topsoil.
The method of growing fruit trees here is known as espalier; this means that the trees are trained to grow flat against a support.
What is espalier?
Espalier is a method that can be used by training your trees horizontally (tied to bull wire) along your fence. For a fence this height you may have three runs.
What is rootstock?
The rootstock is the bottom part of the tree, and apple trees are grown on rootstocks which encourage them to grow fruit easily, and make trees suitable for different sites.
For example, I would be advising the customer here to purchase a rootstock that will grow between 1.6 and 2.4 meters in height. My reasons for suggesting this would be that the fruit trees can be controlled and will be easily harvested.
There will be some heavy pruning required during the first year to encourage new growth, but it will all be worth it whenever they reach maturity and you’re going to your garden to pick your own fruit.
Don’t waste the space between the trees! I would suggest that it would be ideal for you to grow strawberries. It’s easily achievable and you can split the strawberry plants every year or simply layer them in situ to develop more plants.
Allow at the very least two thirds of your budget for materials, it’s a one-off cost and you can enjoy the fruits of your labour.
Mark Gormely is a graduate of the Donegal ETB QQI Level 5 Horticulture course and is based in Letterkenny. If you’d like to get some help with your garden, or have some ideas you’d like to explore, Mark can be contacted on 086 2041274.Tags: