Saturday, May 23, 2009
If you have any room at all in your front or back yard for a fruit tree, plan ahead and think about putting one or two in January 2010.
Here are some general rules for a small, manageable fruit tree (the following is information given at the UC Davis Fruit Tree class at UC Davis Extension Center):
• First think: what fruits do you like? Peach, apricot, apple, pear? If you can’t decide which type of apple, pear, etc., consider a grafted tree that has 3-4 varieties of each.
• In most cases you’ll want a short squat tree, something around 6-8 feet tall. Why? Because you want to get the top fruit without going on a ladder, and you want to be able to maintain it, pick fruit, spray it, etc., without going too high.
• To get such a tree, buy a regular size fruit tree (a dwarf type is not necessary). Chose the type that the nursery person stated grows well in Sacramento clay soil.
• Plan on pruning it whenever it gets higher than 3 feet above your head. (A “dwarf” fruit tree must also still be kept pruned way down in order to be manageable.) Keep the top cut down and the entire tree the shape you want.
• In January 2010, look around your yard and find a good spot. Try NOT to put it in the lawn area, unless you must, as lawns and fruit trees take different amounts of water.
• Up to four trees may be planted within a 4x4 foot bed raised up at least 12 inches.
• When planting the bare-root tree next January, cut side limbs back by at least two thirds to promote vigorous new growth. Two or three times a year, cut it back. Mulch around the tree.
For online research in this topic, see: http://www.davewilson.com/homegrown/homeindex1.html