Last night we had the great privilege of guest-hosting a #gardenchat with Lisa from getinthegarden.com. (For more information about this Twitter forum, read here.) The topic was (can you guess?) fruit trees! We had some wonderful questions throughout the hour-long chat, and I’d like to recap what was discussed, here. You may wonder why the answers are so… well, so short. Twitter responses are limited to 140 characters, and it can be quite the challenge to condense important information into such bite-size pieces! That’s part of the fun with these chats, though, so I hope you’ll enjoy the short bursts of info as they come.
Question #1: When should you prune apple trees?
- Prune apple (and all fruit) trees when they are dormant. Usually late fall/early winter.
- Light pruning can be done right after planting, if trees are still dormant.
- Best pruning advice: if you aren’t confident, goes easy on it. But still prune: a little = better than none.
Question #2: How do you properly water in Zone 7? I have a Meyer Lemon whose leaves are slightly curling…
- Zones 7+ — when watering citrus, allow soil to dry 2-3 in. deep between each water. If well-established already, water only in drought.
Question #3: How long before fruit trees are mature enough to fruit after planting, pruning and fertilizing?
- Tree maturity depends on variety. Generally, pome fruits mature earliest, 2-4 yrs. Sweet Cherries seem to be latest, up to 7 yrs.
Question #4: Do you graft to void out juvenility?
- Graft to ensure consistency in variety! It’s natural cloning, you could say.
Question #5: What trees would you suggest for small urban yards?
- For urban– colonnades, which are grown to be about 2ft. wide. Dwarfs, if there’s about 10ft of space.
- Spur-type dwarf trees give a larger yield on a smaller tree, fyi.
- Spurs are like extra little growth areas for blooms/fruit… inside limbs. More blooms = more fruit!
Question #6: Which fruit tree varieties need companion pollinators?
- The better question is, which ones DON’T need a pollinator
- Apricots, peaches, nectarines= mostly self-pollinating. A few apple/pears are self-pollinating as well.
- Multi-grafted fruit trees are “self-pollinating” — they have two varieties on one tree to pollinate each other.
- Our European plums are also self-pollinating.
Question #7: Do you guys have trial gardens? If so, what are you trying out right now? What’s working well?
- We have test orchards… but what’s in them is a secret.
- We grow most things we sell, & everything is dependent on zone/soil as to whether it works well!
- i.e. “Zone 10″ things don’t grow very well here, in Zone 5!
Question #8: What type of rootstock should I look for in dwarf apple or peach trees?
- We mostly use M-26 & M-9 for dwarf apple trees & Peach Redleaf seedling for… well, peaches
Question #9: Can you suggest tips for successful blueberry bushes?
- Blueberries! Acid: keep soil between 4.5-5.5 pH. Shallow roots, so water adequately. Cut back once a year.
- To make soil more acidic? We have soil acidifier that does the job.
- Also a great idea– (From @GetInTheGarden: I put pine needles around our blueberry bushes to acidify the soil.)
- (From @cityslipper: If you want to eat blueberries from your own bushes, seriously plant way too many bushes. Plan to share w/ critters)
(Most of these questions were submitted last week… and if you’re ever interested in joining a #gardenchat, present your questions online here and they’ll be included in the following Monday’s discussion!)