Monday, June 9, 2008
Dig up the front lawn!
Another step towards greater (self-)sustainability: I have added more fruit trees to our garden. This time I dug up the front "lawn" (if you can call it that after countless years of drought - maybe I should call it the balding front weed patch instead?) to plant pears, plums, apricots and a cherry tree. (I had placed the chairs on the lawn to get an idea of where I would plant the trees)
These are all standard sized trees and will eventually reach approximately four meters in height and diameter. This should give us some nice shady spots in summer!
The week before I had already added some miniature apple and pear trees (they grow "only" up to three meters) to our existing small "orchard" which is rapidly running out of space. I am planning to espalier the apples and have set up posts and wires to train the trees onto those.
Unfortunately, I also have a few trees in the orchard area that may not be fruit trees - no idea whether the previous owner had planted them and they got broken off and have only now come back (in which case they might just be root stock and no good), or whether they put themselves there (they are rather small so it is possible that they are either woody weeds of some kind or "self seeded" fruit trees). If they turn out to be weeds, they can be harvested for their wood, so nothing is lost.
Following Jackie French's advice, I am also trying to grow more trees from seed. So far I have managed to grow several peach trees (luckily we love peaches...) and some plums. I am just wondering whether the plums will bear fruit as I have no idea what they are and therefore don't know whether I have the right pollinator.
Since my earlier tree planting efforts I have learnt a few things. Some of the most important lessons learnt are:
- You need to dig a hole of at least about 1 meter in diameter to plant the tree. Keep the area around the tree free of grass.
- Fruit trees need some watering in winter (even when they are deciduous) and regular water in summer, at least until they are well established. I now plant all my trees with a plastic water bottle stuck upside down (bottom cut off and without lid) next to the tree, so that I can water deeper down and minimise run-off.)
- Get onto cherry and pear slugs quickly, they can and will kill your tree (I lost several trees due to these slimy black little critters).
- A good mulch is vital. Mulch regularly but not too close to the stem to prevent rot.