Planting & Buying AdviceKey information about buying, planting and caring for your fruit trees
1. Please unpack parcels with extra care, particularly when plums and peaches are ordered.
2. Jostaberries are exceptionally good and worth a spot in the garden, growing to about two metres, with profuse fruiting potential.
3. Your favourite choice of Family trees should be ordered early to avoid disappointment.
4. The popularity of M27 grows every year, so any specials (as listed) should be booked early.
5. Remember to clean off all growth below the grafts on all stocks.
6. Remember too, we can supply cordon trained trees of all ages – prices are as bush.
7. ‘Arbrex’: Paint all cuts with this – forms a weatherproof fungicidal cover.
8. Regretfully, we do not have a Garden Planning Department, but will be pleased to discuss by telephone to save time.
9. No trees in containers.
A Guide to Planting of Trees
Dig the hole well for the tree – two spades depth and say 18” in diameter.
Mix a two gallon bucketful of peat substitute [e.g. coir] with top soil that you take out of the hole and mix a generous handful of sterilised bonemeal.
If staking is necessary, thump the stake well in (don’t use creosote). Place the tree in position with the graft clear of the level of the soil. Spread out the roots and replace the top soil over the roots.
Tread well in and leave the new hole at a level slightly below the existing soil level – then, in a drought, should ensure it will be easy to apply water to the tree without it flowing away.
Remove excess soil to the borders.
A general feed of 7:7:7 Growmore can be applied after say a month or so. When fruiting commences, Sulphate of Potash (applied in February) will be necessary, in addition to Growmore. Plums may require extra nitrogen and all stone fruits like a proportion of lime.
If Ph is 5.8 or less, it is usual to apply lime in late autumn at 4 ozs. per square yard.
A SHORT PRECIS TO PRUNING
In order to maintain healthy wood for eventual cropping, apples and pears should be pruned in each year throughout their life in winter and, if growing pyramids and other restricted types, summer pruning also will be necessary.
A lot of the pruning will have been done, but apples in particular require hard pruning in their first three years or so, in order to get a good framework for the tree for its future years of bearing fruit.
The ideal shape to achieve is the open cupped hand shape for bush and standard heads of trees of apples. Put your hands together, thumb to thumb, little finger to little finger – now open your hands, like a tulip opens when about to drop, open cupped – this gives you ten main branches.
To achieve the open cupped framework, you must prune very hard in winter for two to three seasons to achieve sufficient main branches – ten or so, but this may be too many.
Each year you must cut back to two to three buds, cutting straight across to an outward pointing bud, when the framework is complete (three years). Remember, your tree may be two, three, four, five or six years old and we will have done most of the work.
After this, the laterals that are formed will be pruned back to two to three buds and the extension growth of the main ten or so limbs should be left unpruned. Future pruning then consists of cutting out inward growing branches to keep the open cupped hand shape with a clear centre. Crossing and rubbing branches will have to be cut out too. Hard pruning old established trees will only mean no fruit at all for three years, so a compromise is to prune one third of the tree hard each year until the balance is regained.
If you want fruit and are in doubt, do nowt! Consult your local Tree Surgeon. Unpruned trees may resort to bi-annual bearing. Summer pruning restricts growth and helps to form fruiting buds to the base of the pruned shoot. Do not ever prune the leaders, only the laterals, in order to achieve this.
Pears need more pruning later in life and less early on. Cherries and plums often need no pruning – only to shape – and this should be avoided if possible, due to the danger of Silver Leaf. Pruning, if necessary, should be followed by covering the wounds with Heal and Seal. Pruning for shape, if necessary, should be done in early spring, after frosts, and wounds sealed.
A final comment to remember is that, after three to five seasons of general shaping and pruning, no pruning work at all is necessary with M27 rootstocks.
Guide to Grafting
A whole book is necessary to adequately describe all aspects of grafting, but those requiring grafting kits are obviously conversant with basic needs of a successful graft. We use mostly a whip and tongue graft.
A very sharp knife is essential. Hold the rootstock with thumb on the bud at the 6” length. Cut about 1/2” below this and make a decisive flat cut to just above the 6” length.
Select the scion and with thumb on the bud cut again 1/2” below, ending 1/2” above.
Slightly cut into the newly cut wood to make the tongue – do this on the rootstock and to match it on the scion. When pushed together, no light should be seen between the union.
Now bind with the self-destructing tape. Place thumb on the point just below the new union on the rootstock, pulling now with slight pressure on the tape, with it round the stock and completely over the union.
When covered, hold the tape, in tension now, slightly away from the stock and put the unstretched end through the gap. This will now hold firm, because you will have relaxed the tension. Cut off excess tape if any, but leave at least 1/2” or so in case it pulls back.
Now cut off the scions, leaving two or three buds above the tape. Dip the end in the hot wax and plant your new graft quickly.