Growing Fruit at Home for Beginners

The three Ps of fruit growing; Planting, Pruning and Pollination

Fruit growing is a fun, rewarding activity that pays off for decades, both for the grower and the planet.

A fruit tree is actually two trees grafted into one; the top part of the tree is your apple (or plum, pear etc.) variety and the bottom part is the rootstock. The rootstock controls how big the tree is, for apples they are all named M with a number, for example a common dwarf rootstock is M9, and a moderately vigorous rootstock is MM106. The fruit of a particular variety tastes the same whatever the rootstock.

Planting Fruit Trees

  • Plant them in good deep free draining soil (if you don’t have this then dig a big hole and fill it with nice soil)
  • Fruit trees like a spot in full sun with some shelter from winds
  • Plant trees in the winter (December to March)
  • Plant the tree with a stake attached on the southern (windward) side (where the sun is in the middle of the day) so that it isn’t blown over
  • Throw down a handful of general fertiliser and cover the soil around the plant with some compost or a mat of weed suppressing perforated plastic (commonly known as mypex)

Pruning Fruit Trees

This can either be very complicated or simple, if you want a perfect shaped tree then you need to prune it carefully every year to train the tree shape you want. Alternately if you want a tree shaped tree then you can leave your tree to grow and then tidy it up after 3 or 4 years. This gives you 3 years to find out how to prune a mature fruit tree. This technique works better for some varieties than others, choose an easy-care variety. The same goes for disease control some varieties are naturally disease resistant, grow these unless you want to spend your summer spraying your trees.

Pollination

Fruit trees usually need a different variety of the same species of fruit to pollinate each other. This means that you need 2 varieties of apples, pears etc. to ensure you get fruit. Some trees are self-fertile, that means they can pollinate themselves. If you are only planning to grow one variety of apple, pear etc. then make sure it is self-fertile