Trees: Planting & Pruning

February 03, 2009

The delight of fruit from your own tree...

For the past few weeks I have enjoyed writing about the pleasures of home grown food – from first thoughts about a few salads and a pot or two of tomatoes, to the more serious commitments of fruit bushes and vines. I think it’s time to talk about the friends that will be with you for a long time – the fruiting trees.
Apples, pears, plums, apricots, peaches, figs, nectarines, bananas, walnuts, pecans, oranges & lemons – the list is endless (as is the delight of fruit, sweet from your own tree) and depending where you live, the right varieties can be easily found at specialist nurseries, often with detailed instructions for their planting and care.
There are some fruit tree varieties (particularly apples, pears and peaches) that have been bred to remain small, and while these won’t necessarily provide you with a full supply of fruit, the fact that they can be grown in containers adds to their charms.
Fruit trees, once they have reached fruiting size, benefit from pruning (trimming) to keep them in a good useful shape and to maximise the quantity of fruit which can be harvested.
Detailed information on how to prune various trees is very complex, but it’s based on common sense - keeping the trees in a nice shape to stand up to wind and weather, cutting off branches that cross others and could rub bark off allowing disease to get into the tree, cutting out overcrowded branches and so on.
The best way to learn how to do this is probably from a book or on the web – there’s a wealth of information at
The first thing about planting your tree is that it is important to keep the roots damp and in the dark until you can plant.
A young tree can be dropped into a pot with a little water in it and the roots wrapped in a dark polythene bag or sacking.
Once planted, the tree will need looking after until it’s feeding roots can establish.
This means regular watering - preferably in the evening or early morning so that the water will be useful to the tree rather than evaporated by the midday sun.
Also important, good staking will stabilise the small tree or sapling when the wind blows.
A young tree will need some care for perhaps six months – longer if you buy a larger specimen that is three or four years old and ready to fruit.
All in all, growing your own vegetables, salads, herbs and fruit brings many rewards.
The pleasures of seeing your hard work produce results, the unexpectedly delicious taste of fruit of vegetables fresh from the garden and the fact that your family and friends are eating food which is neither tainted with chemicals nor tired and bruised from long transportation – are considerable and I hope that you will enjoy them before long.
Summer is coming!
Happy Horticulture!