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Growing fruit trees is an incredibly rewarding experience and the results are delicious, nutritious and regularly juicy. Creating your own mini orchard needn't be hard. As long as you get things right in the beginning, things are unlikely to go pear-shaped. So to make the most of your urban orchard, preperation and planning are key!
What to consider
If you only have space for 1 variety it's often worth choosing a self-fertile variety. Or if you have space for multiple trees make sure you choose varieties that pollinate each other. It's also important to create an environment where pollinator insects thrive, as they will do the work to ensure your trees stay pollinated. In general, a garden full of a wide variety is best, but for more advice click here.
If you're new to growing fruit trees or you like growing organically, choosing disease resistant varieties will make it easier for you to grow your own tasty treats.
Where you will plant
All fruit trees should be planted in full sun (at least 6 hours of sun a day). They also need enough space to ensure that they have room to grow and aren't competing for resources (see spacing guide at the end of this article). Where possible it is also worth planning out where you plant based on the needs of your fruit trees.
Peaches - to reduce chance of problems site in sunny free draining spots with good air-flow.
Plums and apples - as with peaches, except they are more tolerant of worse soils and slight poorer spots.
Pears - Can cope with poorer damp spots in the garden.
Specific growing information
In general, if you are growing in the city you'll normally find that some pollination occurs from nearby trees, However, to improve production and ensure good pollination plant compatible varieties nearby or grow a crab apple tree.
There are a number of dwarf varieties such as Kiwiapples that stay small (around 2m) and require little to no pruning. Perfect for pots, they can also be grown in the ground and are great if you are short of space but still want to plant several fruit trees.
Mainly on M9 rootstock, the rootstock reduces the vigour of the plant, keeping the tree smaller (around 2.5m). As it's the rootstock that's dwarfing, you can choose from a larger selection of apple varieties. Not suitable for pots. Good for espalier trees if you need to keep your trees smaller. However, this rootstock needs better soil than the semi dwarfing MM106 or MM116. If you are on poorer clay soils I'd recommend using a semi-dwarfing rootstock spending more time improving the soil around where you'll be planting.
Usually MM106 or MM116, the trees will usually grow 3m+. Better for heavier soils.
Peaches and Nectarines
All our Nectarines and Peaches are self fertile except for some of the dwarfing varieties, which will need another peach or nectarine variety nearby to ensure they fruit well.
In Auckland and the north there are various fungal problems (brown rot and curly leaf) that are fairly common due to the high humidity. To reduce the risk pick out the best spots in the garden for them, keep open to allow air flow and keep well fed and watered (as stressed trees are more susceptible to problems).
Some varieties such as Billington and Damson are self fertile, while many others require a pollinator. Generally the information provided for each tree will state the pollination requirements.
Chilling requirements - In general, the varieties we sell will all get enough chilling to set fruit. The only exception is that we sometimes get a few greengages in, which may get enough chilling in some nearby microclimates, but aren't suitable for most sites in Auckland. But if you're not sure, come in and check.
Most pears require a pollinator. See growing requirements for each variety when choosing to ensure they are compatible. The flowers of pears produce less nectar than most other trees, so when growing pear trees it's important to to encourage as many beneficial insects as possible to come and make your garden their home.
Fruit to try while they are in season:
Plums - Billington, Santa Rosa, Black Doris, Damson (great for cooking), Fortune
Peaches - Golden Queen, Pixzee, Flatto, Blackboy, Scarlet O'Hara
Apples - Cox's Orange Pippin, Monty's Surprise, Peasgood Nonsuch, Initial, Oratea Beauty/Gravenstein.
Pears - Triumph, Beurre Bosch, Taylor's Gold, Winter Nellis, Winter Cole, Seckel