Fresh fruit from the garden – what could be better for you and your family? Beat food miles and packaging for a few weeks at least by growing your own apples and pears. Designate a space in your garden, talk to the staff in the garden centre and buy a tree or two – it really is that easy. Get them in the ground and watch them blossom!
Planting trees is also great fun, a brilliant way to mark a special occasion, and brings so much extra value to the garden. Fruit trees are especially effective at connecting you with the seasons because spring, summer or autumn they offer something wonderful to appreciate.
Apple (Malus) is a vast family with edible and ornamental varieties to choose from. All offer blossom in spring, many are attractive simply as garden trees. Nothing gives quite such a powerful sense of homeliness as branches laden with quietly ripening fruit. Pear (Pyrus) offers similar benefits, as well as being a more individual choice.
In both cases, there are varieties which, owing to their growth habit or compact size, are ideally suited to smaller gardens. Most garden centres stock a range of dessert or cooking apples, including varieties that you know from the supermarket. The great opportunity with home-grown, however, is to produce fruit that really suits your own palette. ‘Sunset’ and ‘Fiesta’, for example are great eaters that you probably won’t find on the shelves, but if you want to go for Cox’s, Braeburn’s or Bramley’s, they’ll work in the garden too.
If you are not interested in actually eating the fruit, then choose an ornamental variety. Malus ‘Evereste’ is an outstanding small tree, ideally suited to garden applications. Its wide pyramidal crown, blossom that ranges from light purple to pinkish-white and orange/red ornamental fruits all have major appeal. ‘Golden Hornet’ is another winner, with light purple/white flowers and yellow fruits.
For pears, the range is more limited, but again, there are small trees suitable for the garden which will produce either edible or ornamental fruit.
Now is a great time for planting fruit trees because growth is slowing but the soil is still warm. This keeps stress on the plant to a minimum and helps to ensure strong establishment, (although container grown trees can be planted at any time other than drought or frost if properly fed and watered after planting). Plant fruit trees in fertile soil, in the case of pear, and moderately fertile soil in the case of apple. A full sun position is preferable, although apple will tolerate some shade. Plant away from underground features like pipes, drains and prune to remove untidy or excess shoots in late winter or early spring.
So grab your spade and get into home grown top fruits this autumn!