Top fruit tree growing advice and information from Real English Fruit

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Critical Points to be followed to enable your trees to do well

Planning and preparation

1) The soil is the tree’s home. Only the best will do. Use John Innes compost number 3 as a soil improver, if necessary. Ideal pH 6.3-6.8

2) Choose a spot in full sunlight.

3) Do not plant the tree on the live roots of any other tree.

4) Stay away from any type of hedge. When planting several fruit trees, for every metre in height, calculate 1 metre’s planting distance from the other trees. For example, if the final height of the tree will be 3 metres, it should be at least 3 metres from any other tree.

5) Prepare the planting spot well before the tree’s arrival.

6) Moist soil is fine. Waterlogged soil is a no. If in doubt, plant the tree in a raised bed.

7) The tree should be staked at all times, from planting, right through its life. Use a 2” diameter, circular-section, treated stake, 6 feet in length.


8) First put the stake upright in the ground, to a depth of 1’6”.

9) Then dig a decent-size planting hole at spade depth. Loosen the sub soil with a rigid tine fork. Keep the union of the tree above soil level.

10) Put the top soil in a wheel barrow and mix it with blood and bone meal.

11) Always make sure crumbly soil is put back on top of the roots. Not big lumps of stiff clay. Firm the soil with your boot.

12) Tie the tree with a flexible adjustable tie. An old nylon stocking is perfect.

13) Put a rabbit guard onto the trunk.

Watch a video on how to plant fruit trees.

Maintenance throughout the tree’s life

14) Keep 1 square metre of soil around the trunk free from grass and weeds, during the growing season, from April to September, in every year of the tree’s life.

15) Water your tree weekly during the growing season, above all from May to September. The first 3 years are decisive for healthy tree development.

16) Prevent aphids from damaging your trees. This applies in particular just before flowering time and soon after that. Any garden centre will stock what you will need for this.

Read more on how to look after fruit trees.

Preparations for planting

The rewards of a well-tended orchard

The rewards of a well-tended orchard

Fruit trees will look after themselves if you do the following things.

So you’ve decided that you’re going to plant some fruit trees, you’ve placed the order, and you know that you’ll receive the trees some time from November to April, the ideal planting time when the trees are dormant. Now is the time to prepare the planting site!

Check the pH of the soil. It should be between 6.3 and 6.6. Garden centres stock inexpensive pH meters.

Set out the planting positions, with tall bamboo canes, well before the trees arrive. You’ll have worked out the planting plan and the distances between trees with your supplier. Remove one square metre of grass sward for each tree position and remove this grass totally from the planting position. The reason is that the grass roots compete fiercely with the tree, and tend to stop the tree from establishing itself on the new site. Newly planted trees and grass are BAD companions!

Grass roots are very bad for the trees in the early years, when the trees need all the water available. Break up the topsoil and loosen the subsoil over 1 square metre for each tree. This is very important as tree roots hate stagnant water during the winter months. Keep the soil of the tree positions free from weeds for the rest of the season and for two years after that. The planting hole needs to be at least 1’6” in diameter and approximately 6” deep. Only put the best top soil on top of the roots. No subsoil. Loosen the subsoil with a rigid tine fork, before you plant the tree.

While the soil is reasonably dry, this is the best time to put the stakes in place near the planting positions. Set a stake upright in the middle of each 1 square metre. The stake needs to be 2” in diameter, 1’6” in the ground and 4’6” feet above the ground. Total length 6 feet.

If you think that you won’t be able to plant the trees straight away when they arrive, you’ll have to heel them into a shallow trench 8 inches deep and 6 inches wide.

Good drainage is absolutely essential for the trees to thrive. If drainage is suspect on your site, the trees will have to be planted on a mound. The height of the mound needs to be at least 10 inches above soil level and 3 foot wide in diameter. Only use the best topsoil to construct the mound.

Click here to read the complete story – including the planting operations and the tree’s first season

© Dan Neuteboom  5 Oct 2012