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The benefits of planting trees and the nutritional value of fruit has reawakened interest in fruit gardening, but many people still believe that they do not have enough space to grow fruit in their garden. However, with modern stock and training this is not a problem. It is possible to include fruit even in the smallest gardens by making use of dwarf stock and single-stem cordons.
To create cordons, when a young tree is growing, remove sideshoots and train to grow as a single, rope-like stem.
The smallest garden, patio or balcony can produce enough apples, pears, plums or cherries for the average family. An increasing variety of small trees are grown on dwarfing root stock so that pruning and picking are easy too. Miniature or dwarf fruit trees will produce regularsized fruit on smaller trees.
Fences and walls can be put to good use for growing fruit in a small garden. There are fruit varieties for every aspect, from full sun to full shade. Cleverly used, walls and fences can extend the fresh fruit season. Sunny walls make it possible for plants to crop much earlier than is possible in the open, and shady walls extend the season after the normal crop has been gathered in.
The soil at the base of walls and fences is almost always quite dry. Until fruit trees have been able to establish strong roots, they will need a considerable amount of water.
Fruiting plants prefer cool, fertile soil that retains water. Add as much compost, mulch and well-rotted garden manure as you can.
Thick mulch is essential as fruit plants are shallow rooted and mustn't be allowed to dry out. Mulching will also suppress weeds.
Good drainage is important as fruit plants will not survive with wet roots. Dig in plenty of sand and grit and consider raised beds.
Plan a fruit garden carefully as planting trees and bushes can be costly and timeconsuming. Careful planning for positioning will ensure the best results for minimum effort.
Good planting will determine the future health and productivity of a plant. Dig a big hole, mix garden compost with the soil and plant at the same depth as plants are grown in their pots. Gently pack the soil around the roots, filling and firming as you go. Don't allow weeds or grass to grow within a circle around the plant, as wide as the plant is high, for three years.
Generous watering for the first year after planting is crucial.
Apples are the most popular orchard fruit. They suit the British climate and although they prefer rich, moist, well-drained soil, they still manage to crop well even in poor conditions.
Strawberries are easy to grow. To ensure you have sufficient plants to pick enough fruit for the needs of a family of four over the summer, plant around 100 plants in a strawberry bed.
It is surprising that delicious raspberries are not grown more. They are among the easiest fruits to care for and, as they flower late, it is possible to get good crops in areas where other fruits fail.
Acid soil, suitable for heathers and rhododendrons, is essential to successfully grow blueberries. If such conditions aren't available, a substitute of peat and leaf mould will be productive.