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Home and Gardens

Published on November 28th, 2015 | by The Town Crier


Choosing & planting Fruit trees

Winter is a great time to replace or plant new fruit trees in the garden or allotment as long as the ground is not frozen. An advantage of winter planting is that you can buy young trees ‘bare-root’ more cheaply and with a greater range of varieties than pot-grown trees. Bare-root simply refers to the fact that they are grown on in open fields and lifted (dug up) just before delivery to you. The roots are protected but often just with a hessian or plastic sack. The trees need to be planted soon after arrival and the roots kept moist and frost free. The bare-root season is Nov-Mar but order early especially for the less common varieties as there is a finite stock of trees grown each year and they take 3-4 years to prepare.

Most fruit trees are “grafted” with the top growth determining the variety e.g. Apple ‘Blenheim Orange’, Pear ‘Conference’ and the roots determining the vigour and size of the tree. Your first decision is the variety: flavour and texture of the fruit is the usual priority and it is often nice to grow one that is not widely on offer in the supermarkets. Many older varieties are great for garden growing but not financially viable for mass production.

Specific rootstocks have been developed since the 1920s to create dwarf, medium and large orchard trees. Each rootstock has a ‘name’, usually a code. M27 is a rootstock used for apple trees reaching only 2m tall often in containers, MM106 is good for espalier or fan trained apples or a standard tree 4-5m tall. Pears usually use ‘Quince A’ for weaker growing varieties and ‘Quince C’ for naturally more vigorous varieties, both end up 4-5m as a good garden tree and suitable for training. ‘Colt’ is recommended for Cherries giving a tree 4-5m tall and free fruiting.

Look forward to fresh picked fruit next summer by choosing and planting a tree this winter.

Christmas Gifts for Gardeners
You will see many lists of gifts for gardeners as Christmas approaches, frequently simply attempting to sell the latest product. Of course any gardener will love a useful gardening present so here are some thoughts for happy givers and receivers.
Hand tools can be found very cheaply but for a gift choose quality tools, preferably with a steel head. There is nothing more frustrating than a trowel whose head spins round or falls out when you dig.
Remember that as well as the standard length of handle for a digging spade or fork, it is possible to buy tools with longer handles. These will save back strain for a taller gardener.
Gloves are very important and do need to be bought regularly. I always wear close fitting, nitrile coated gloves because they are long lasting, comfortable and surprisingly cheap. Not usually on offer at garden centres, visit an equestrian shop.
All gardeners need an unbreakable mug for vital cups of tea or coffee while admiring progress and making grand plans!

Alison Marsden lives in Southborough and provides on-site advice to gardeners as well as teaching for Kent Adult Education Services and giving talks to groups and societies.
There is no long term commitment – just all the advice you need an hour at a time. Find out more at www.gardeningbydesign.co.uk or call 07803 045327

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