Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Growing fruit in small gardens [9]

Don’t waste space on the practical but ultimately useless hawthorn, beech or laurel. Plant instead a wonderful wall of fruiting delights! With some consideration to suitable inclusions this is a very easy method of growing and it’s great not only for you, but for the birds as well.
There are two forms of fruiting hedge. A more naturalistic and less formal one, and the closer, more cropped method using columnar fruit trees. The latter are planted at optmimum density which is 2’ apart and trimmed once each summer with all side laterals being cropped to about 6’’ inches for this method of growing. You can incorporate any varieties of apple, pear, plum, cherry, damson and greengage but you must purchase column trees for it to be successful. After establishment the trees can be self supporting and pruning is quick and easy. Some professionals using this method simply go over the row with a pair of sheers.
The other method is less formal and involves more of a naturalistic approach but of course it does take up a bit more room. Whereas the columnar trees will only take up about 3’ width space all round, the natural mixed fruiting hedge would need 6’ or more in width but the effect, and fruiting capabilities can be very fine. You can incorporate crab apples, elder bushes, damsons, cherry plum, bullace, sour cherry and hazels and cobnuts, but also some more conventional trees such as apple and plum. Use semi vigorous rootstocks which will tolerate hard pruning once a year in common with the rest of the inhabitants.
A fruiting hedge can be a wonderful very productive addition to the garden and it is also ideal for wildlife.

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