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#Gardenchat Q&A

by Meg on 09/28/2010
GardenChat

Last night we had the great privilege of guest-hosting a #gardenchat with Lisa from getinthegarden.com. 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?

  1. Prune apple (and all fruit) trees when they are dormant. Usually late fall/early winter.
  2. Light pruning can be done right after planting, if trees are still dormant.
  3. 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…

  1. 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?

  1. 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?

  1. Graft to ensure consistency in variety! It’s natural cloning, you could say.

Question #5: What trees would you suggest for small urban yards?

  1. For urban– colonnades, which are grown to be about 2ft. wide. Dwarfs, if there’s about 10ft of space.
  2. Spur-type dwarf trees give a larger yield on a smaller tree, fyi.
  3. 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?

  1. The better question is, which ones DON’T need a pollinator ;)
  2. Apricots, peaches, nectarines= mostly self-pollinating. A few apple/pears are self-pollinating as well.
  3. Multi-grafted fruit trees are “self-pollinating” — they have two varieties on one tree to pollinate each other.
  4. 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?

  1. We have test orchards… but what’s in them is a secret. ;)
  2. We grow most things we sell, & everything is dependent on zone/soil as to whether it works well!
  3. 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?

  1. 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?

  1. Blueberries! Acid: keep soil between 4.5-5.5 pH. Shallow roots, so water adequately. Cut back once a year.
  2. To make soil more acidic? We have soil acidifier that does the job.
  3. Also a great idea– (From @GetInTheGarden: I put pine needles around our blueberry bushes to acidify the soil.)
  4. (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!)

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2 Comments

  1. Tse Chow permalink

    Can you recommend a plum tree that bears sweet fruit and resists insects so it does not need spray?
    Semi-dwarf preferred.

    • Meg permalink

      Hi Tse! What growing zone will you be planting the plum?

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