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Picking your own fruit fresh from a tree is one of the top gardening joys.

Plan for the future: grow fruit trees

Honey and Leonie Atkinson transformed a patch of kikuyu grass into a thriving orchard, here's their planting advice to help you have your own bumper fruit harvest.

The success of your backyard orchard hinges on selecting the right fruit tree varieties and being clear about what you love to eat, especially if you have a small space. Take into account the following.

Diversity: Opt for a mix of fruit trees that grow well in your area to enjoy a variety of flavours throughout the growing season.

Disease Resistance: Choose varieties that are resistant to common diseases in your area. This will reduce the need for treatments and make maintenance easier.

Pollination: Some fruit trees require cross-pollination for optimal fruit production. Be aware of the pollination needs of your chosen varieties and plant accordingly.

Mature Size: Consider the mature size of each tree when planning its placement. Proper spacing ensures that each tree receives adequate sunlight and allows for easy maintenance. Dwarf fruit trees are an excellent choice if you have limited space. Also, using espalier will save space and make pruning easier.

Planting your orchard

Once you’ve selected the fruit tree varieties, it’s time to get your hands dirty. Follow these steps for success.

Timing: In cooler climates, plant fruit trees in late winter or early spring so they can establish roots before the growing season. In warm climates, autumn planting is fine.

Digging Holes: Dig holes twice as wide as the tree’s root ball and just as deep. Break up any clumps of soil and amend it with compost or well-rotted manure.

Planting Depth: Place the tree in the centre of the hole, ensuring that the root collar is at or slightly above ground level. Backfill the hole with soil and any additives (compost, amendments etc), gently pressing it down as you go.

Watering: Give your newly planted trees a deep watering. Mulch around the base to retain moisture and suppress weeds.

Interplanting for pollination: Try planting flowers that attract pollinators like bees – most berries, avocados, apples and pears require them.

To learn more about planting fruit trees in your backyard, you can read Honey’s full article in the Autumn 2024 issue (OG 148). Get a copy here.

OG 148 cover