Malus John Downie, photo courtesy of Andy/Andrew Fogg/flickr.com
Modern fruit trees are generally grown on a dwarfing or semi-dwarfing rootstock that keeps their size down to manageable levels and can be grown to produce a fairly flat table at a height convenient for picking without ladders. But you may be interested in growing a traditional old English fruit tree, the sort that grows to an appreciable size and ends up with knarled branches that young children can even climb. An ideal tree for a village green with a good space around the tree to do Maypole-type dancing is the Granny Smith. The fruit hangs on the tree until Christmas without dropping and looks spectacular. However somewhere in a garden nearby there has to be a pollinator… otherwise no fruit!
A much better tree for a very large lawn or a village green is a John Downie crab apple. The fruit looks good and makes wonderful crab apple jelly.
Whatever your tree requirements, don’t hesitate to contact us for more information and on any special needs you have. And, as they say, the best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago, but the next best time is now, so don’t delay!
Planting a tree. Photo courtesy of FO Littleover Parks/flickr.com
One particularly important factor in a fruit tree from a supplier is whether it is a Maiden or a Bush tree.
A Maiden is generally a tree in its first year, consisting of a single stem. For a few varieties, this may have a few initial side branches, but most will not. The buds on a maiden are mainly wood buds. So there is no chance of any fruit crop in the year after planting.
A Bush tree is a 2 to 3 year-old tree, ususally with several side branches, usually with a good number of fruit buds. Fruit buds are essential for early cropping. A bush tree is also helpful because the side branches are ready to develop into the main framework of the tree, with a “fruit table” positioned for comfortable picking. Not all fruit trees form side branches in the second year, but, if it is an apple, in any case the tree will start to produce fruit on the central stem. By nature, pears, plums and greengages always take longer to come into production . Therefore in particular with these fruit types it is wiser to start with a 2 to 3 year old tree.
The height of the tree is not a feature which encourages early cropping.
Rootstocks and tree size
How to buy fruit trees
When one is considering purchasing fruit trees, it is very important to know what sort of tree one can expect.
This is a 1 year old tree and needs at least 3 years before cropping can be expected.
This is a 2 to 3 year old tree. If planted prooperly and looked after well – fed and well watered during the growing season – the apple trees will usually start cropping the year after planting.
It is for this reason that 2 to 3 year-old trees are more expensive than maidens. Bush trees of most varieties already have several side branches. The first fruits will be formed on those side branches.
If over the following years the lower branches are gradually removed then the tree is transformed in either a half standard or standard tree. Usually these trees will have formed a clear trunk of approx. 1 to 1.5 meter length.
From the early cropping point of view, the bush tree is generally most suitable.
Half standard and standard trees take longer to re-establish themselves.