1 DWN: Homegarden: Backyard Orchard Culture 8 Dec 08 5:01:52 PM http://davewilson.com/homegrown/whatis_BOC.html The objectives of Backyard Orchard Culture are The prolonged harvest of tree - ripe fruit from a small space . Many fruit varieties may be be planted close together . The trees should be kept small by summer pruning .
4 Summer Prune For Size Control 4 Backyard Orchard Culture Is Not Commercial Orchard Culture For years , most of the information about growing fruit came from commercial orchard culture : methods that promoted maximum size for maximum yield but required 12 - foot ladders for pruning , thinning and picking , and 400 to 600 square feet of land per tree . Tree spacing had to allow for tractors . Most people today do not need or expect commercial results from their backyard fruit trees .
A commercial grower would never consider using his methods on a 90 ft . x 100 ft . parcel , so why should a homeowner ?
Backyard Orchard CultureIs High Density Planting And SuccessiveRipening Maximize the length of the fruit season by planting several ( or many ) fruit varieties with different ripening times . Because of the limited space available to most ... more. less.
homeowners , this means using one or more of the techniques for close - planting and training fruit trees ; two , three or four trees in one hole , espalier , and hedgerow are the most common of these techniques . Four trees instead of one means ten to twelve weeks of fruit instead of only two or three .<br><br> Close planting offers the additional advantage of restricting a tree ' s vigor . A tree won ' t grow as large when there are competing trees close by . Close - planting works best when rootstocks of similar vigor are planted together .<br><br> For example , using a four - in - one - hole planting , four trees on Citation rootstock would be easier to maintain than a combination of one tree on Lovell , one on Mazzard , one on Citation , and one on M - 27 . In many climates , planting more varieties can also mean better cross - pollination of pears , apples , plums and cherries , which means more consistent production . Backyard Orchard CultureMeans Accepting The Responsibility For Tree Size Small trees yield crops of manageable size and are much easier to spray , thin , prune , net , and harvest than large trees .<br><br> If trees are kept small , it is possible to plant a greater number of trees , affording the opportunity for more kinds of fruit and a longer fruit season . Most semi - dwarfing rootstocks do not control fruit - tree size as much as you might expect . Rootstocks can help to improve soil and climate adaptation , pest and disease resistance , precocity ( heavy bearing in early years ) , tree longevity , and ease of propagation .<br><br> To date , no rootstocks have been developed which do all these things , plus fully - dwarf the scion . WhatIs Backyard OrchardCulture? 2 DWN: Homegarden: Backyard Orchard Culture 8 Dec 08 5:01:52 PM http://davewilson.com/homegrown/whatis_BOC.html Pruning is the only way to keep most fruit trees under twelve feet tall .<br><br> The most practical method of pruning is Summer Pruning . Tree size is the grower ' s responsibility . Choose a size and don ' t let the tree get any bigger .<br><br> A good height is the height you can reach for thinning and picking while standing on the ground , or while standing on a low stool . Two other important influences on tree size are irrigation and fertilization practices . Fruit trees should not be grown with lots of nitrogen and lots of water .<br><br> Some people grow their fruit trees the way they do their lawn , then wonder why the trees are so big and don ' t have any fruit ! Backyard Orchard CultureMeans Understanding The Reasons For Pruning It ' s much easier to keep a small tree small than it is to make a large tree small . Most kinds of deciduous fruit trees require pruning to stimulate new fruiting wood , to remove broken and diseased wood , to space the fruiting wood , and to allow good air circulation and sunlight penetration in the canopy .<br><br> Pruning is most important in the first three years , because this is when the shape and size of a fruit tree is established . Pruning at the same time as thinning the crop is strongly recommended . By pruning when there is fruit on the tree , the kind of wood on which the tree sets fruit ( one year - old wood , two year - old wood , spurs , etc .<br><br> ) is apparent , which helps you to make better pruning decisions . Backyard Orchard Culture Means Summer Pruning For Size Control There are several reasons why summer pruning is the easiest way to keep fruit trees small . Reducing the canopy by pruning in summer reduces photosynthesis ( food manufacture ) , thereby reducing the capacity for new growth .<br><br> Summer pruning also reduces the total amount of food materials and energy available to be stored in the root system in late summer and fall . This controls vigor the following spring , since spring growth is supported primarily by stored foods and energy . And , obviously , pruning is easier ( and more likely to get done ) in nice weather than in winter .<br><br> 3 DWN: Homegarden: Backyard Orchard Culture 8 Dec 08 5:01:52 PM http://davewilson.com/homegrown/whatis_BOC.html Backyard Orchard Culture Means Not Being Intimidated By Planting Or Pruning Fruit tree planting and pruning needn ' t be complicated or confusing . When planting , be aware of air circulation . This is important in cutting down disease problems .<br><br> Check drainage . If poor - draining soils are suspected , consider a raised bed to protect the trees from starving for oxygen in heavy soils . Up to 4 trees can be planted in a 4 x 4 foot bed raised up at least 12 inches .<br><br> Larger beds can accommodate more trees . Pruning Backyard Orchard Culture is simple . When planting a bareroot tree , cut side limbs back by at least two - thirds to promote vigorous new growth .<br><br> Next , two or three times per year , cut back or remove limbs and branches to accomplish the following : First year At planting time , bareroot trees may be topped as low as 15 inches up from the ground to force very low scaffold limbs or trees may be topped higher than 15 inches ( up to four feet ) depending on the presence of well - spaced existing side limbs or desired tree form . After the spring flush of growth cut the new growth back by half ( late April / early May in Central Calif . ) .<br><br> In late summer ( late August to mid - September ) cut the subsequent growth back by half . Size control and development of low - fruiting wood begins now . When selecting containerized trees for planting in late spring / early summer , select trees with well - placed low scaffold limbs .<br><br> These are usually trees that were cut back at planting time to force low growth . Cut back new growth by half now , and again in late summer . Two , Three or Four trees in one hole At planting time , plant each tree 18 to 24 inches apart .<br><br> Cut back all trees to the same height . Cut back new growth by half in spring and late summer as above . In the first two years especially , cut back vigorous varieties as often as necessary .<br><br> Do not allow any variety to dominate and shade out the others . Plant each grouping of 3 or 4 trees in one hole at least 12 to 15 inches apart to allow for adequate light penetration and good air circulation . Hedgerow plantings : Easiest to maintain when spaced at least 3 or more feet apart .<br><br> Make sure that the placement of the hedgerow does not block air circulation and light from other plantings . To conserve water : for single trees , apply at least a 4 - inch layer of mulch up to 4 feet from the tree or from the center of the planting of 2 , 3 , or 4 trees in one hole . Second year Pruning is the same as the first year : cut back new growth by half in spring and late summer .<br><br> Pruning three times may be the easiest way to manage some vigorous varieties : Prune in the spring , early summer and late summer . Thin to an open center beginning in the second season . Prune single - tree plantings to vase shape .<br><br> Multi - plantings : thin out the center to allow plenty of sunlight into the interior of the group of trees . Remove broken limbs . Remove diseased limbs well below signs of disease .<br><br> 4 DWN: Homegarden: Backyard Orchard Culture 8 Dec 08 5:01:52 PM http://davewilson.com/homegrown/whatis_BOC.html Third year Choose a height and don ' t let the tree get any taller . Tree height is the decision of the pruner . When there are vigorous shoots above the chosen height , cut back or remove them .<br><br> Again , in late spring / early summer , cut back all new growth by at least half . The smaller one , two , and three - year - old branches that bear the fruit should have at least six inches of free space all around . This means that where two branches begin close together and grow in the same direction , one should be removed .<br><br> When limbs cross one another , one or both should be cut back or removed . When removing large limbs , first saw part way through the limb on the under side ahead of your intended cut . Do this so it won ' t tear the trunk as it comes off .<br><br> Also , don ' t make the final cut flush with the trunk or parent limb and be sure to leave a collar ( a short stub ) . Apricots will require more pruning in the summer to control height . Prune as needed ( 2 to 3 times in the summer ) to keep the tree from getting too much growth .<br><br> Be careful not to cut too much at one time , this will cause excess sun exposure of unprotected limbs , which can cause sunburn to the interior limbs . To develop an espalier , fan , or other two - dimensional form , simply remove everything that doesn ' t grow flat . Selectively thin and train what ' s left to space the fruiting wood .<br><br> Don ' t let pruning decisions inhibit you or slow you down . There are always multiple acceptable decisions - no two people will prune a tree in the same way . You learn to prune by pruning !<br><br> For further advice consult your nursery professional Backyard Orchard Culture BeginsWith Summer Pruning! Smaller trees are easier to spray , prune , thin , net and harvest ! With small trees , it ' s possible to have more varieties that ripen at different times .<br><br> The easiest way to keep trees small is by summer pruning . There are lots of styles , methods and techniques of summer pruning ; most of them are valid . The important thing is to prune !<br><br> Backyard Orchard CultureMeans Knowing Your Nursery Professional The concepts and techniques of Backyard Orchard Culture are learned and implemented year by year . An integral part of Backyard Orchard Culture is knowing your nursery professionals and consulting with them when you have questions . Backyard Orchard CultureIs The Pride Of Accomplishment There is a definite sense of accomplishment and satisfaction , a special pleasure in growing your own fruit , growing new varieties of fruit , producing fruit that is unusually sweet and tasty , having fruit over a long season , and in sharing tree - ripe fruit with others .<br><br> These are the rewards of learning and experimenting with new cultural practices and techniques as you become an accomplished backyard fruit grower . ULTIMUS DICTUM There ' s no excuse for neglected trees , maintenance undone or lack of know - how . Backyard Orchard Culture is an attitude : Just Do It !<br><br> © 2008 Dave Wilson Nursery 800 - 654 - 5854 " 209 - 874 - 1821