Fruit trees are best planted in autumn or spring while they are dormant. When they arrive they will have exposed roots, a long stem and bare branches. Because they are dormant, they don't grow leaves until the weather warms in the spring.
Prior to despatch, trees will have been lightly pruned as necessary and any damaged or awkwardly growing shoots and roots removed so that they are ready for immediate planting.
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU RECEIVE YOUR TOP FRUIT
Remove from packaging and position in a sheltered spot. Before planting, soak the tree’s roots for an hour or so in a bucket of water.
Plant as soon as possible when they arrive. If for any reason you have to wait, the trees will keep in good condition in their packaging for a week or so in a cool place such as a shed or garage. If you must hold them longer, dig a hole anywhere and 'heel' them in - cover the roots with soil and firm to keep them moist.
WHERE TO GROW YOUR TREES
Choose a site which is well-drained and in a position which benefits from good sunlight. Avoid planting in a part of the garden that is a frost pocket - opened flowers and fruitlets are susceptible to frost damage. Also, avoid planting in an exposed or windy position as this will both discourage pollinating insects and cause crop damage.
Avoid planting near larger or overhanging trees. To reduce the possibility of carrying over any dormant disease, do not plant where an old fruit tree has recently been removed. If your garden or allotment is visited by rabbits, then adequate protection must be given to the tree trunks using wire netting or plastic tree guards.
Although grown primarily for their crops, in a domestic garden fruit trees should be regarded as ornamental as well as useful, especially during the spring when they are covered in blossom. So, if possible, pick a position where you can see the blossom in its full glory and, later on, the ripening fruit.
The soil should be thoroughly dug and, at the same time, incorporate some well-rotted manure, such as Organic Extra Chicken Manure, or Fish, Blood & Bone or Light & Easy garden compost. Make sure any deep rooted perennial weeds are removed.
Most top fruit varieties will tolerate a wide range of soil types.
Apples & Medlar - 8ft apart and 6ft from fence or building.
Cherries - 15ft apart and 8ft from fence or building.
Pears - 12ft apart and 6ft from fence or building.
Plums, Gages, Mulberry & Cobnut - 12ft apart and 6ft from fence or building.
Nectarine, Peach & Apricot - 8ft apart and 6ft from fence or building.
Figs & Quince - 10ft apart, trained to strong fence or building.
Kiwis - 6ft apart, trained to strong fence or building.
Walnut & Chestnut - 30ft apart and 20ft from fence or building.
Grapes - 6ft apart, trained to strong fence, Pergola or building.
Dig a hole some 6in wider than the spread out root system and to a depth whereby the soil mark from the nursery on the stem of the young tree will be just covered.
N.B. If your garden soil is on the heavy side, you will get better establishment by cultivating the sub-soil in the area where the young tree is to be planted. Take out a wider hole than normal (about 3ft in diameter) and loosen the subsoil with a fork before planting the tree.
Make sure the union where the variety is grafted onto the rootstock is 5-6in above soil level when you have finished planting.
If a tree stake is to be used, it should be banged in before the tree is planted.
After placing the tree in the hole, spread out the roots and add layers of soil, firming down with your foot or an old log. The final layer should not be firmed however, as it could shed water away from the tree.
TOP TIP! There are many purpose-made ties on the market, but a pair of ladies tights is also ideal. Tie them around the tree and the stake in a figure of eight, thus forming a buffer. Don't forget to check the tie once a year in case it is girdling the tree.
During the first year your trees should be kept well watered during hot and dry spells. Ideally, a square or strip 4ft wide around the trunk should be kept clear of any plants (especially grass) for 4 years by cultivation, using an herbicide or by applying a mulch.
Straw or well-rotted manure mulches are a very good idea to help retain moisture. The soil should be warm and moist when the mulch is applied, preferably before the end of May. The mulch should not touch the tree stem as this can lead to disease and, in the case of straw, harbour mice which might eat the tree bark.
TOP TIP! When planting the tree, insert a piece of rain water pipe with holes drilled in the side, reaching from the base of the roots to just above the soil level. Water down this pipe to get the water just where it is needed. It will prevent surface rooting and will help the tree to search deep down for moisture and nutrient. Always water in the evening if at all possible as there will be less evaporation.
Most fruit trees, with the exception of cherry, medlar, mulberry, crab apple and walnut, will benefit greatly from fruit thinning. Not only will the quality of the fruit be superior, but the overall weight of fruit will also be greater. Thinning should be carried out in early July after the natural 'June drop' has finished.
In the case of apples and pears, a reduction down to two fruits per cluster is desired. The earliest varieties should be thinned down to single fruits. Always aim to leave only the larger fruits on the tree.
Plum thinning is most important as in some years the weight of fruit is so heavy that branches are broken down. The aftermath of plum thinning can be quite frightening, as about 75% of the fruitlets should be removed! However the fruit retained then grows on to reach superb size and quantity.
Peach, nectarine and apricot thinning is confined to spacing the fruits at about
6in apart along the branches. The fruits then mature into glorious size and eating quality.
When pruning, you should try to develop a tree with equal branches on all sides and which are evenly spaced. Light and air are the best friends of a fruit tree, so don't be frightened to remove large branches. If you think that the tree looks a bit bare after pruning, then you have probably done a good job!
Please remember that, although the fruit trees which we supply are growing on dwarf or semi-dwarfing rootstocks, under ideal conditions and left unchecked, even these can grow quite tall. pruning a little each year is the best approach.
SPECIAL NOTE FOR PRUNING GRAPE VINES
Vines are best planted with some form of support. Use a wall frame or post and wire construction to train the laterals along. A single or double stem is most desirable with laterals running from these main stems at 9in spacings. It is on these laterals that the fruit will form.
Each year in the winter cut back each lateral to within 2 buds of the main stem. The length of the main stem should be allowed to increase by about 12in each year.
Allow only two bunches of grapes to develop on each lateral otherwise the grapes will be numerous but small – far better to have far fewer bunches of fruit that are larger and of superior quality! After the fruit has set, stop the growth of each lateral 2 buds past the second bunch.
Whilst many of the varieties we supply will pollinate themselves satisfactorily, the best fruit set can be guaranteed by choosing at least 2 varieties from a species. However, it is also worth remembering that if you live in a town or village with fruit trees nearby, visiting bees may be generous by bringing in pollen from the neighbours!