edible trees & shrubs
choosing what to plant
Choosing what to plant - page 2.

How much time is required to manage each fruit tree?
All fruit trees require a certain amount of time be spent on them in order to maintain them properly, IE pruning branches, harvesting and processing the fruit.  But some fruit trees need more time spent on them than others.  Below are some fruit tree characteristics to watch out for as they increase the amount of time you will have to spend in order to produce a successful crop.

  1. Trees that require the thinning of fruit
    Photo of Ballerina apple tree with lots of small apples
    Ballerina apple tree with a high number of immature apples on it.  Although not as bad as some apple trees this Ballerina tree usually requires some thinning.  It is also much more susceptible to Codling moth attack.

    Photo of Val Dwarf peach with a bad attack of curly leaf
    Val dwarf peach tree with a bad attack of curly leaf.  The attack was so severe that all of the peach buds fell off.  I had not sprayed the tree with a fungicide.
    Photo of a seedling nectarine showin no signs of curly leeaf.
    In contrast this nectarine tree grown from a seedling, planted just metres away from the above peach tree and photographed on the same day is showing no sign of curly leaf.
    Some fruit trees set large numbers of fruit that , if left to mature, will either produce lots of very small fruit or add so much weight to the tree's branches that there is a risk of some of them breaking under the strain.  To avoid this you have to do what is called "thinning", which is the hand removal of up to half of the immature fruit before they get too large.  This is tedious extra work that can be avoided if you choose fruit tree varieties that don't require thinning.

  2. Trees that need to be sprayed for curly leaf
    Almost all peach and nectarine trees get curly leaf to some extent but some varieties get it so badly that they will not produce fruit unless sprayed each Spring with a fungicide such as Bordeaux mix.  For this reason I would avoid planting any peach or nectarine tree that is very susceptible to curly leaf.

  3. Trees that are more susceptible to codling moth attack
    Codling moths lay eggs on the buds of flowering apple trees that hatch into grubs which live inside the growing fruit before boring their way out as the apple matures.

    It's my experience that apple trees have varying susceptibility to codling moth attack.  For instance the apples on my Jack Hum crab apple trees never get codling moth damage, my Granny Smith trees will typically suffer between approx. 15 to 30% damage while my Ballerina tree usually suffers between 30 to 60% damage.  Applying the Percentage Factor method of pest control means that my apple trees as a whole have sufficient natural resistance to codling moth that I harvest enough Codling free apples to justify not spraying my trees.  However if all my apple trees where very susceptible to codling moth I would have to regularly spray them.

    So it's a good idea to avoid planting apple trees that are very susceptible to Codling moth attack.
  4. Trees with fruit birds like to eat.
    Birds eating fruit hanging on trees is an occupational hazard, so much so that I net most of my fruit trees at harvest time to protect the crop.  But some fruit trees are more at risk than others to bird attack. 
    For example, here in Ballarat, cherries are very susceptible to bird attack, apples, pears and Nashi pears are somewhat susceptible, while feijoas, citrus fruit and quinces are generally left alone by the birds. 

     is a good idea.

    Fruit trees that are highly susceptible to bird attack are best grown as small espaliered trees as they are much easier to cover with bird netting.  Trees that are less effected by birds make good multi purpose use trees.  See the Fruit and Nut Tree Functions webpage for more information.

    Having at least some fruit trees that don't need to be netted to protect them from birds will reduce the amount of time spent netting fruit trees.

How much space is each tree going to need?
Many fruit and nut trees can be grown in pots or as small espaliered trees, even pruned into hedgerows.  Especially if they are grafted onto dwarf rootstock.  You will be surprised how little space is needed.

Others, such as walnut trees, do better as larger trees and therefore need more space.   You may also want to let some trees that can be grown as small trees grow larger to meet other garden functions.  See the Fruit And Nut Tree Functions section for more details.

Whatever you end up planting, make sure you calculate the space that is needed for the size and type of trees you want to grow before you buy your stock.

These questions should only be seen as a simple guide to get you started on the path to successfully growing your own fruit and nut trees.   You will have to do a lot more follow up research if you are to do this thoroughly.

There are a number of websites on the net with good information on growing fruit and nut trees.  You can also buy or borrow a book on the subject along the lines of the one I refer to : Growing Fruit in Australia by by Paul Baxter and Glen Tankard.