Big decisions for our little orchard

by Mars

When we undertook to plant our little orchard, we knew there’d be a learning curve, but we didn’t expect it to be so steep, so quick. We knew we’d have to water and nurture our new trees so they’d establish themselves, but there’s been a lot more to it than that.

Our garden centre, maybe predictably, told us there wasn’t much to it when planting fruit trees, and that we’d just have to water them a lot to help them establish. We did this, and in truth, the trees were doing well.

Shortly after posting our first orchard video, we were contacted by a gentleman called Harold, a fruit tree aficionado in Canada, who kindly offered his expertise to answer any questions we had about fruit trees. I encourage you to check out his blog, Okanagan Okanagan, when you get a chance.

As complete fruit tree neophytes we took him up on his offer and his insights and advice have been invaluable so far.

In part two of our little orchard video series we look at how our fruit trees have performed after blossoming and the measures we’ve taken to thin fruit from our trees with the aim of helping them to establish themselves so that they continue to grow into healthy, robust specimens.

Based on our correspondence with Harold, we’ve decided to share some vital information that may assist other newbie fruit tree owners and growers below.

When growing apple trees it’s about finding the ‘balance’ between having lots of apples every year. This is what I found extremely interesting and something I was not aware of. If a fruit spur (a tiny fruiting twig) has an apple one year, it will not have one the next year.

If a fruit spur has no apple one year, it will most likely have one the following year, provided that the tree is balanced and the spur has light.

Not surprisingly, if a tree has many apples, its growth will slow significantly and that’s not an ideal scenario for young trees are young. If a young tree, especially one on a dwarfing rootstock, slows, it risks not developing into a full-sized tree.

Additionally, if young, undeveloped, willowy branches have a lot of fruit, the weight of the fruit will weigh the branches down and they will cease growing as structural limbs and become small fruiting limbs instead.

After much deliberation, and as shown in the video, we decided on just a few taster apples from our little orchard this year so that our trees could develop a strong branch structure and root system for the years ahead.

10 Weeks After Planting Our Little Orchard

Our little orchard
Lane’s Prince Albert
Howgate Wonder
James Grieve
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