There are several reasons and benefits for growing your own fruit. By growing your own, you know exactly what you are eating and what it has been sprayed with (or more importantly what it hasn’t been sprayed with). And fruit left to ripen on a tree tastes sweeter and has higher concentrations of minerals and vitamins. Moreover, fruit trees are aesthetically pleasing, they have flowers that precede the fruit in spring, you can sit in the shade in the heat of a summer’s day, and in fall, the leaves turn to their autumn colours.
There are three types of fruit trees: standard, which grow to 6m (20 feet) plus, , growing to 3-4m (10-12 feet), and genetic dwarf, which seldom grow higher than 2m (6 feet) tall.
You can also grow standard and semi-dwarf trees in containers; this will have the effect of dwarfing them. Potted trees will require more attention. Water frequently in the growing season, especially in hot weather, and add controlled-release fertiliser (like Oderings Total Replenish) in small amounts regularly for proper growth and development. However, it is important to note that trees planted in open ground will always out-produce container plants.
Dwarf fruit trees should be planted in late winter or early spring. The root system of a dwarf fruit tree is not as vigorous as a standard fruit tree, and will soon die if in poorly drained soil. At the time of planting place a support stake (or two) in the ground 15 cm (6 inches) from the stem of your tree. Pack top soil around the roots and water well. When planting, prune the plant back to 75 cm (30 inches), establishing a balance with the roots. Plant your dwarf fruit trees 2.5-3 m (8-10 feet) apart.
In the second year, select four or five well-spaced branches and remove the rest. This is the last pruning necessary, except to thin out branches every year. If your tree produces fruit in its first year, the fruit should be removed in the interest of succeeding crops. Fruiting too early will result in smaller harvests in subsequent years.
If you intend to train a tree on a wall or trellis (called "espaliering"), fasten the branches to wires on the wall during their first year. In later years, prune to short spurs and new branches that grow upright; this will encourage open growth.
Dwarf fruit trees need fertile soil. At the time of planting, add Blood & Bone and if your pH level is below the number 7 add lime. No more fertiliser is required in the first year. In future years, to achieve a good canopy with a dark green appearance, apply plenty of well-rotted animal manure; we recommend sheep pellets. Apply Oderings Citrus & Fruit Tree Fertiliser at three- to four-monthly intervals once new growth appears. It is a good idea to mulch your trees; this will provide a better uptake of nutrients and ensures an even supply of moisture, keeping the roots cooler.
Dwarf fruit trees will set more fruit than they can carry and, if not thinned, may not bloom the following year. 20 days after blooming, thin out the extra little fruits, looking to have one fruit for each 15-20 cm (6 to 8 inches) along each branch.
Nothing puts people off a peach or nectarine tree like leaf curl, which is caused by a fungus that can reduce or even eliminate the fruit crop. Diseased leaves will also drop off, which, of course, reduces the tree's health and growth.
To avoid this problem, spray with copper and oil fortnightly from bud burst for 6-8 weeks. You can mix powder forms of copper with oil and spray together but liquid forms of copper must be done separately. Reapply when necessary after that. To read more on how to spray please read the article on Winter Spray Program.
The Wave of the Future
Miniature fruit trees are the wave of the future, as yard sizes are getting smaller and smaller. Dwarf fruit trees have the following advantages:
• Require much less growing space; a small garden could easily accommodate one or more.
Dwarf Deciduous Fruit Tree Varieties
Here are some of Oderings top choices for dwarf deciduous fruit trees.
Apple Blush Babe – Growing to just two metres tall, with a mop-head habit, this dwarf apple variety produces delicious full-sized, crispy, red fruit. Good natural disease resistance means little spraying is required, and little or no pruning is needed. Early ripening variety.
Nectarine Flavourzee – A dwarf nectarine with mid-season yellow-fleshed fruit of good size and eating quality. Forms a compact bushy habit. Self-fertile, but best with another nectarine or peach in the vicinity, as cross-pollination increases fruit yield.
Nectarine Garden Delight – Large, juicy, freestone fruit with red skin and yellow flesh. It requires fewer hours of chilling (500-600) than some other varieties, making Garden Delight ideal for warmer regions. Attractive, large, pink blossoms.
Nectarine Nectar Babe – Sweet, yellow, juicy, freestone flesh. Deep pink blossoms. Low chilling requirement (400-500 hours), so it's good for warmer areas. Best planted with Honey Babe or near another nectarine or peach to aid pollination, resulting in higher fruit yield.
Peach Bonanza – Yellow freestone peach with red blush. Large, sweet fruit, low in acid, with a mild, refreshing flavour. Highly attractive in both blossom and fruit.
Peach Garden Lady – Large yellow-skinned fruit with sweet, juicy, yellow flesh, with red-flushed orange skin. Freestone. Partially self-fertile and fruits best near other peaches or nectarines.
Peach Honey Babe – Medium to large fruit with orange, sweet, juicy flesh and tangy flavour. Showy pink flowers. Fruits best near other peaches or nectarines.
Peach Pixzee – Large, red-over-orange-skinned fruit with delicious, firm, yellow flesh. Freestone. Ripens early. Vigorous, to 1.8 m