Caring Properly for your Fruit Tree If you have just recently planted a new fruit tree, I think it is safe to assume you are not yet an expert on the subject. More fruit trees die in their beginning years due to poor care habits than any disease or pestilence. Therefore it is vital that you understand how to care for trees in a way that will ensure their immediate success as well as future good health. During the first stages of the tree's life, the roots, trunk, and branches have not yet fully developed to a self supporting strength. Therefore if your tree is growing fruits, occasionally the combined weight is enough to snap off an entire branch. If this is the case, you should provide external support for your branches -- prop them up with boards, or tie them to something at a higher altitude. As long as you can provide your tree the support it needs in these early years, it should grow to be independent in no time at all. Proper nutrition is not only necessary for the production of healthy fruits, but is also necessary for the tree to survive longer than one season. The exact specifications vary with the area, climate, and type of tree, but I've found that there is no better source than a nursery employee. Maybe they're just eager to sell you the right type of fertilizer, but in my experience they are almost never wrong. Just inform them about the conditions your tree is living in and how healthy it is looking, and they should be able to help you find something to improve the state of your tree. Lots of people think that the only way to ensure a tree's healthiness is to provide it insane amounts of water. This is not the case at all. As a matter of fact, giving too much water to a tree can be more harmful than making it go thirsty. At the best it will have a negative effect on the taste of the fruit. But at worst, your entire tree could die and prevent you from ever growing fruit in the future. So do not ever try to solve your problems by giving it lots of water! Solve your tree's health problems at the root, so to speak. Go to where the problem originates from, and fix that. If it is too late and you're already starting to see unhealthy branches that look either diseased or damaged, you should always remove them. If the tree is wasting nutrients by sending them out to the branch that cannot be saved, it is practically throwing away all the nutrients that it could use on the other, healthier branches. As soon as you start to see a branch that is deteriorating or becoming unhealthy, chop it off right away. At the very least, trim down the unhealthy part but leave all the segments that still look like they could continue growing. Once your tree has started to enter the picking stage, never leave any of the fruit on the ground that is bound to fall. Also, be careful to get every piece off of the tree. Even if it is an ugly looking fruit that you don't want to keep, you should still pick it and throw it away. Once these fruits begin to rot, they provide a perfect home for unwanted insects or diseases that can transfer to the tree itself. So always remember to rake up these fallen fruits, and prevent yourself a lot of future grief. Getting a fruit tree and caring for it throughout its life can be a daunting task. It may even seem impossible sometimes to keep track of all the factors that make a tree healthy. But if you just pay attention to the nutrients that your tree needs, you should be on a good path. In addition to nutrients, figure out the precise amount of watering that you should be doing to keep your tree's thirst quenched without drowning it. Just do all these things, and you will have a great tree that produces delicious fruits. My First Tree Almost everyone's first tree experience has some embarrassing events. Nobody can be an expert right away; we all make mistakes that sometimes haunt us for years afterwards. Some of us make worse mistakes than others, though. I think that if there was an award for being the most naive person to ever attempt growing a tree, I would win. When I decided to plant a tree of my own, I had the perfect spot in mind. There was a gap between my house and my fence of about 5 feet. It was probably the least traveled area of my whole lawn, and I thought it could use something to spice it up. Maybe if I provided some lovely shade, it would become more used by my family. I envisioned a little picnic paradise in the shade, where my family could go just to be with each other and nature. Boy was I wrong. I decided on a nice apple tree. Despite the risk of apples falling on our heads, I thought it would be a treat to sit under the shade and munch on delicious home grown apples. Just the thought of this romantic, poignant activity was enough to make me drive my self to the nursery and purchase the first apple tree in sight. I didn't know enough about trees to look at the roots or any of the signs that it could be an unhealthy tree. I spent the required amount of money and had the tree delivered right to my house. I dug the hole right where I wanted the tree. This took almost the rest of the day. Holes are an easy thing to underestimate. It's easy to say that a hole will only take an hour or two, but once you actually start digging it usually progresses a lot slower than you would have estimated. By the time I actually got the hole big enough to fit the ball of roots, I certainly didn't feel like digging another few feet around the perimeter as most tree planting guides suggest. I was just ready to place the tree. With the help of my morbidly obese neighbor, I lifted the tree across the yard and dropped it into my hole. Then, it was time to fill in the hole. I couldn't have been happier once I filled in that last shovel load of dirt. I stood back to admire my work. That was when my 3 year old daughter said something that crushed my spirits, and haunts me to this day. "Daddy, that tree stands up like grandpa!" My father is a great man, and if she had compared any other aspect of the tree to him I would have considered it an honor. But unfortunately his back has been deteriorating lately, and he can't stand up very straight. I noticed that my tree did indeed have a similarity to his posture. Thinking this was a problem that the tree would naturally outgrow, I decided to leave it for a while to see what happens. Every day I went out to check on the progress of the tree; to see if it was any straighter than it was the day before. I daily had my spirits crushed when I saw that it had not improved at all. Not wanting to put forth the effort of removing it from my yard, I decided to just forget about it. I never went over to that side of the house again and almost completely pushed the tree from my mind. I decided that if any problem ever came about from leaving the tree there, I would pack up my furniture and flee the state. That's how much I was humiliated by my tree experience. After about 3 years of completely ignoring that the tree ever existed, I was sitting in my house one day and heard a loud crash. I ran outside to see what the problem was, just to see that my tree had grown to such an unmanageable size that it had taken out my gutter and part of my neighbor's fence. I moved out of state within a week. Picking the Ideal Spot for your Fruit Tree When growing a fruit tree, choosing the right place to plant it is very important. One thing that you have to consider is its proximity to a building, electric line, side walk, or any other thing that might disrupt its growing. Once you have planted a fruit tree, the chances of unearthing it and changing its spot without killing it are very slim. Therefore you must always be sure you know which size fruit tree you have (dwarf, semi dwarf, or standard) and how big it will end up being once it is an adult. Dwarf trees need an area with an eight-foot diameter to grow. Semi-dwarf fruit trees can grow up to fifteen feet wide. Standard fruit trees can grow as wide as thirty feet. To keep the size of your fruit tree(s) at whatever level is best for you, be sure to prune them at least once a year. Another thing that you have to consider when planting a fruit tree it whether or not it is getting all of the sunlight it needs to survive. You also have to be sure it doesn't get too much sunlight. If your tree doesn't get just the right amount of sun, it will die. Be sure that you do not plant it where the sunlight will be blocked by something. Also be sure that it isn't being constantly hit be the sun at every moment of the day. Either of these can be fatal to the tree. An important thing to keep in mind when choosing a spot for your tree is whether your spot will be convenient for watering, harvesting, and pruning. A place that would not be good to plant a fruit tree is close to your house or your fence. Any of these things could get in the way of you harvesting and pruning. If your tree grows over your fence the fruit could drop into your neighbor's yard, which might seem like a nice thing but would probably offend some people. You should also be sure to plant your tree where it will be easy to water; if you already have a sprinkler system in your yard you could put your tree where the sprinkler could reach it. If you do not have a sprinkler system installed, you should put the tree within reach of your hose. One of the most important things of all to keep in mind when planting a fruit tree is whether or not your soil in your yard is suitable for your tree. You have to make sure that is has enough nutrients, it has enough moisture, there is proper water drainage so your tree doesn't drown, and it is the right texture. If your soil doesn't have these traits then your tree won't grow very well or produce good fruit. You can always alter your soil to be more suitable for your tree. One way that you can find out what kind of soil you have is by taking a sample of it and taking it to a lab. It may be expensive, but they can test it for what nutrients it has the most of. You'll have the results back in a couple of days. If your soil is low in nutrients, you can go to your local nursery, or any other store with gardening supplies, and get fertilizer according to what your soil is most lacking in. After you have checked on all of these things, you are finally ready to go choose what kind of fruit tree you want and get ready to plant it. When you are choosing your tree keep in mind the spot you picked, and buy the tree that would do best in that spot. The worst thing that can possibly happen is devoting time and money to growing a tree, only to end up having to remove it because of poor planning. Removing Old Trees Sometimes a tree gets to the point where it is necessary to say goodbye to it. It can be a painful choice to make, but sometimes the tree gets too close to the house, gets too diseased, gets an incurable infestation of some pest, or grows too tall and gets close to a power line. If any of these things occur, its best to do the right thing and get rid of the tree. Although you might have spent hours and hours getting the tree to where it is today, it is almost dishonorable to the tree to allow it to suffer in bad conditions. Once you have made the choice to remove the tree, you need to plan its removal. I can't begin to count how many windows I've seen knocked out or cars I've seen crushed because of poor planning in the tree removal process. Decide what direction you want it to fall, and accurately measure to make sure it will fall completely clear of anything else that it could possibly cause damage to. Once you have the falling direction planned out, you should climb up the tree and tie two long ropes near the top. Anchor them on the opposite side of the one that you want it to fall towards. This will allow you to adjust the direction the tree is being lowered in, just in case it starts leaning towards anything it could destroy. Now that you've taken all the necessary precautions, you are ready to begin chopping. If you plan on using a manually operated saw or axe, please step back and consider how insane that is. Chopping down a tree by hand will take you forever, and will not even begin to be as accurate as using a chainsaw. If you don't have a chainsaw, you shouldn't even consider doing it without one. Ask around with your neighbors and see if anyone has one that you could borrow. If that doesn't work, rent or buy one from your local home improvement store. Before you start chopping away at the tree, you should wear proper eye and face protection in case any wood chips fly towards your eyes. I had a friend who blinded his right eye while cutting down a tree, so I hope all of my readers do not make the same mistake as he did. Whenever you operate a power tool, always be sure to wear proper protection for any exposed parts of your body. When making the cut, you do not want to just cut a straight line into the tree. It is best to cut a sideways "V" into the tree. This is because if you cut the straight line, the tree will end up rolling to one side or the other. If you cut in a "V", the tree will be able to fall in the exact direction that you want it to fall. Occasionally it might be a few feet off due to human error during the cutting process, but if you have some strong friends pull on the ropes you tied, you can line it back up with the path you wanted it to take. The entire process shouldn't take more than an hour. Removal of the stump can be slightly more difficult. You have several choices; you can rent out a stump chipper that will completely destroy the visible section of the stump. Or you can spend countless hours digging it out. Digging out the stump is much more thorough, but takes forever. If you have kids this shouldn't be a problem. Kids often find the thought of digging fun, and are excited to go outside and dig all day long with their friends. This was the method I used, and I had the entire stump out within a week. Keep in mind that my stump was about 1 foot in diameter, and digging probably won't work for stumps much larger than that. What to Look for when Buying a Tree Although the process of growing and caring for a tree is generally challenging and even difficult at times, sometimes one of the hardest parts is choosing which kind you want. You have to choose between the many sizes, fruit, and other attributes. The different sizes include: dwarf, semi-dwarf, and standard. Your choice can affect everything about your growing experience, including the amount of work you have to put in and the amount of rewards (fruit) you will obtain. Dwarf trees are ideal if you only have a limited amount of open space in your yard. They take up as little as only as eight-foot diameter plot of land. Although the dwarf fruit trees are smaller than the others, their fruit is just the same size and the shortness makes them easier to prune and harvest. Dwarf fruit trees aren't known for living quite as long as larger fruit trees. They begin to bear fruit after three to five years, so if you are going to buy a dwarf fruit tree from a nursery you should always check and see how old it is. Semi-dwarf trees are medium sized, and when they are full grown they take up a fifteen-foot diameter. Semi-dwarf fruit tree's height can range from as low as ten feet to as high as sixteen feet. To keep them from getting to large you should prune them at least once a year. Occasionally semi-dwarf fruit trees take a season off and produce little or no fruit, but mostly they produce hundreds of fruit every year. Many people enjoy having semi dwarf fruit trees because they produce more fruit than a dwarf tree, and they are generally easier to harvest and maintain than a standard fruit tree. Standard sized fruit trees take up much more area the then any of the smaller tree varieties, and they are also harder to keep manageable and to harvest all of the fruit. If you do not prune them at least once a year they can grow as large as thirty feet. If you are just looking for a good tree to provide you with plenty of delicious fruit from and to keep your yard shady, a standard sized tree would be the perfect tree for you. Standard sized fruit trees take a very long time to reach their full height, but they usually begin to bear fruit after only three to five years. The best variety of fruit tree to buy would be one that carries fruit and does well in your area, because a local fruit tree takes less work and grows the best. Although fruit trees bearing other, more exotic kinds of fruit may seem more exciting, they usually won't grow as well in your area. That's not to say it's impossible. You can definitely try to grow a more exotic tree, but it will take much more commitment and time. Another factor involved in deciding on a type of tree is what kind of soil you have, because some trees do better in damp soil while others are better suited for drier soil. If it rains often in your area you would do well to plant a plum tree. But if you do not get very much rain you would do better to plant a pear tree or an apple tree. Before choosing which type of fruit tree you would like, consult your local nursery or gardening guru to find out which trees would do well in your area. Other things that you should look for while looking for a fruit tree at the nursery are things like how sturdy it is, if all of the branches are evened out, how straight the tree stands, the condition of the roots that support the tree, the length of the stem, and the height of the fruit from the ground. Making a careful and deliberate decision can mean the difference between having the stunted fruit from your lopsided tree being eaten by animals all day long. Planting and Caring for a New Tree When you have decided on which kind of fruit tree you would like, and where you would like it, you can finally start to plant it. If you buy your tree from a nursery, be especially careful when you are taking it from the nursery to your house. I once had a friend who put the tree in the back of his truck, but clipped a sign on the way home. The entire tree snapped in half, and my friend was left a very sad man. When you have gotten your tree safely back to your yard, look at the bottom of it and see how big the clump of roots is. It may seem like a lot of work now, but you want to dig a hole that is twice as wide as the clump, and just a little less deep. Making the hole slightly bigger than the clump of roots allows there to be room for the soil that you dug out to be put back in. Otherwise you would be stuck with a giant heap of unwanted dirt, and nowhere to put it. After you have dug the hole, line the hole with some compost or fertilizer so that the tree will grow better. After you have done this you should set your fruit tree into the hole, and spread the roots out evenly so that the tree will be strong and stable. When all of this business is done, take the soil that you dug up and fill in the hole completely. Unless you want big piles of dirt everywhere, you should be sure you use all of the dirt even is it is a couple inches higher than the rest of your yard. This is because it will compress when watered. Before you firm up the soil, make sure that the tree is completely vertical and will not fall over. After you have checked that the tree is perfectly vertical you can gently firm up the soil. If the tree's trunk is not yet completely sturdy and can be bent, you need to tie the tree to a stake with a bit of rope. Be sure not to tie the rope tightly to the tree, as you need to allow room for the trunk to grow. Once the tree is sturdy enough to withstand all types of weather, you can take the stakes off of it. When all of this is done you should mulch around the base of the tree. If you live in an area where wildlife can access your yard, then you should put a fence around your tree, because some animals will eat the bark off of young trees. Once you have successfully planted your fruit tree it will start to bear fruit after it is three to five years old. Once your tree starts to carry a lot of fruit you should periodically pick some of the fruit so that the branches aren't weighed down too much. If the fruit gets too thick, the branches can break off. On some years your tree might not bear as much fruit as others, but this should not worry you. Healthy trees often take years on "vacation" where they produce little or no fruit. After you've planted your tree you might start to have some problems with pests. To help keep these pests away, always rake away old leaves, brush, or any other decaying matter that could be holding bugs that could be harmful to your tree. To make sure that your tree always stays healthy in the long run, you should prune it during winter or spring. Water your tree every two weeks during dry times, and be sure not to hit your tree with a lawn mower or a weed eater because it could severely damage the growth process. Also just make sure that your tree gets plenty of water and plenty of sun, and your growing experience should be just great. Staking a Young Tree When a tree is in the young stages, one of the most vital things you need to provide for it in addition to water and nutrients is support. If you don't hold up the tree somehow, it might end up bending in a certain direction and growing extremely crooked for the rest of its life. So no matter what, you should always have some kind of support. The most popular method of keeping young trees upright is to put long stakes into the ground on either side, and tie loops around the tree. Each loop should be fairly loose to allow for further expanding of the trunk. Lots of people just have a stake on one side of the tree, but this is not a good practice because it generally doesn't allow for further growth of the tree. You should only be staking your tree if you think that wind and other forces might be literally moving the ball of roots within the ground. Your staking should prevent all of this movement, because this is the most harmful thing that can happen to a young tree. It causes the roots to be in motion too much and not be able to properly get a hold on the soil so that the tree can develop normally. Before you stake a tree, you should be completely sure that it needs it. If you constrict the movement and growth of a tree that doesn't need to be tethered down, you could harm it beyond repair. For example, the staking mechanism you use could cause abrasion or "rashes" on the trunk. This will happen anyways, but why have it happen needlessly? Also, staking gives your yard an unnatural look and can present a hazard for people walking or running across the yard. The staking process is actually rather simple. Just take 3 stakes and tie each one separately near the base of the trunk. If you use some sort of tether to prevent rope burn on your tree, that would be an even better solution. These can be purchased at any gardening shop, and are designed to be friendly to the bark of the tree. It is much better to stick with these instead of bare rope, to minimize the amount of friction the tree endures. When you think your tree has been staked long enough to stand on its own, you should remove the stakes from the ground as soon as humanly possible. Every moment the tree is constricted it is losing some of its vitality. As soon as it seems like the wind is dying down around your area, look on the weather reports and see how much wind is forecasted. If the skies will be pretty clear for a while, you should at least temporarily take off the stakes. To wrap it all up, you should never deny your tree a good staking. It is a completely necessary thing to do in certain situations. It is very crucial to understand when those occasions are, though. Staking a tree that doesn't need it can be as damaging as not staking a tree that does need it. It might be beneficial for you to consult an expert, and get their opinion as to whether your tree should be staked, and for how long. Maintaining a Healthy Young Tree Making sure that your fruit tree stays healthy is very important, but not as hard as some might think. There are several vital things you need to do: don't harvest all of the fruit on the tree at the same time; make sure the soil is healthy; watch out for pests; plant it correctly; be sure it is protected when it is young. I will expand on all of these things. One way to ensure that your fruit tree will remain healthy is to never harvest all of the fruit at the same time. If all of the fruit is left on the tree, it will grow to an unbearable weight. The combined weight of all of the fruit can get very heavy and snap the branches. So once the fruit starts to grow, you should always pick some of them before they are completely ready. Even if you don't want to pick the fruit before it is ready, it will be beneficial to your tree. While you should do this to prevent it from becoming too heavy, you should also never over-harvest. This can be equally damaging. Another part of making sure that your fruit tree stays healthy is planting it in fertile soil. If you plant anything in soil that doesn't have the proper amount of nutrients in it, it will not grow and flourish as I am sure you would like it to. You also have to be sure that you plant the right tree in the right kind of soil, because some types of fruit trees do better in drier soil while some kinds or trees do better in damp soil. Just look up what kinds of nutrients your desired tree requires and you'll know for sure whether to plant it or modify your soil in any way. Another way to ensure your fruit tree's health is to watch out for pests. To help keep the pests away from your tree, try to eliminate places by your tree that pests might be living. Always look for old piles of brush, weeds, old leaves, or any other decaying matter where pests could be hiding. Another way to keep pests away is by using bug sprays and repellents. Also, regularly turn over a little bit of soil around your tree and look for pests that could be hiding underground. Sometimes the ones that are hidden out of sight can be the most harmful. If you don't plant your fruit tree correctly, it could end up being very unhealthy. So to avoid this, always look for instructions before you plant trees. When you are planting a tree, make sure that your tree is perfectly vertical, so it won't grow to be pointing off in an abnormal direction. When you are planting a tree you should also spread out the roots so that the tree will always be stable. This will help it live longer since the maximum water intake will be optimized. The final thing to do in keeping your fruit tree healthy is to keep it protected when it is young and fragile. When you have a young tree you should tie it to a stake to help it to survive strong winds. Don't tie it too hard, you should always allow room for the tree trunk to grow. Another thing to do when it is young is to put a small fence around it. This can help keep it safe from animals that will eat its bark if given the chance. A fence will also help to guard the base against strong wind and other weather. If you follow all of this advice during the early years of your tree, you should have an experience that is nothing but joyful. Hopefully you'll learn from the mistakes of others, and take great care of your tree. Just remember to always look up information on the type of tree you have, so that you can find out what exactly it requires. Pruning Your Trees If you have just entered the tree growing world, you have no doubt heard the term "pruning" tossed around by the more veteran growers. Well, I have something to admit. For several years, I did not even know what pruning was. I heard the term a lot, but I never felt comfortable asking someone what exactly it was. Even though it would have benefited my gardening and tree growing, I was too prideful to ask. I've found that pride is the reason for the failure of many great endeavors; if I had just asked someone what pruning was, I wouldn't have undergone a few of the disasters that occurred during my first years of gardening. Pruning is the removal of dead or unneeded branches to encourage the growth of flowers. Usually a tree will end up devoting energy to branches that don't need it, while neglecting branches which are bearing more fruit. If you remove the branches that are taking all the nutrients, you will begin to see a flourish in the other ones. Pruning also keeps the tree in shape by keeping the branches even. This prevents it from becoming weighed down on one side. Having too many branches on one side could cause the tree to become permanently crooked. Many gardeners don't even think about pruning their trees until they start to bear fruit. This is a big mistake, and you should never neglect to care for a tree just because it hasn't yet begun to produce. During the entire process of growth, you should prune the tree in a way that it is even and uniform. Then, when it does start to produce fruit, the results will be significantly greater. It is very easy to tell the difference between a tree that has been pruned regularly during its growth, and one that has been neglected. Generally the shape of the tree is much more natural looking if it has been pruned. The first thing to look for when you start pruning is any branches which are dead or diseased. These are quite easy to recognize. Usually they don't bear any fruit, and might be misshapen or discolored. Don't hesitate at all in chopping these guys off, as they are nothing but detrimental to the health of your tree. Sometimes a branch can be dead or diseased without making it too obvious. If this is the case, simply wait until the tree is flowering and it will become obvious by not growing anything. The second type of branch to look for is the branch that is too close in range to all the other ones. If it grows at such a length and angle that the end is right next to all the other branches, they might end up crowding each other out. Take off the smaller of the two branches to allow the larger one to have the breathing room that it needs. This same rule applies to the weight balance of your tree. Sometimes, for reasons we will never understand, a tree will grow several branches on one side and weigh itself into being lopsided. So hopefully I have provided you with a basic knowledge of pruning. There are more situations and types of branches that require pruning, but what I've outlined is the very basic parts. These can alter depending on how old your tree is. For example, for the first 3 years of a tree's growth it requires pruning that follows more "formative" guidelines. After the tree is well established, you will need to use "regulatory" pruning to keep it where you would like it to be. There are entire books written on how to prune trees depending on how old they are. There are far too many techniques for me to go over, so if you want to use these advanced techniques then you should go to your local library and check out a book. Shaping Trees for Different Situations Through the use of pruning techniques, it is possible to shape your tree to a certain style. There are seven main tree shapes that all have their own benefits for certain situations. During the growth of the tree, simply cut off the unneeded branches, tie the wanted branches into the proper shape, and you will be able to shape it however you want. However, for some of the more advanced shapes, equally advanced pruning techniques are required. There are many books written on this subject. Usually, if you're trying to get your tree to a certain shape, all the tying and pruning should occur in the fall. This will encourage the shape to stick, since no fruits will be produced at that point in time. Each of the different shapes is very useful in certain situations. So, here are some different types of shapes you are able to choose from. Standard trees hardly need any explanation. These are the varieties that are most common, and probably what you picture when you think of any tree. No specific shaping is required to get the shape to take this form. Just let it go and prune it as you would normally, and unless you have a strangely deformed tree then it should end up being a standard tree. It is possible to turn a standard tree into a bush tree through pruning. The branches take the same shape, but the stem or trunk of the tree is noticeably shorter. This can be beneficial if you want to grow trees, but don't want to block the view. For example, my house has a great view of the Rocky Mountains. I didn't want to sacrifice this gorgeous view, so I grew my trees up as bush trees. Cordons are a type of tree that you might not be familiar with. It consists of one stem with no branches. It is planted at an angle so that it arches up over the ground. Through the course of its growth, all branches are removed. These are beneficial because they take up very small amounts of space and more can be fit in a certain square footage. The only negative aspect is that they produce smaller amounts of fruit per tree. Espalier trees grow with a single vertical stem in the center, and several horizontal branches on each side. These allow for long rows of trees, while still producing large amounts of fruit. If you operate an orchard, you probably use this shape to fit as many trees as possible into the area you have. Fan trees use the same theory as espalier trees. However, the shape is slightly different. The same central vertical stem is used, but the connected branches are not horizontal; they grow in the same pattern as a standard tree, only they are two dimensional rather than three dimensional. They are also used to save space, and are used instead of espalier trees for certain types of trees that do better with sloped branches. Another type of espalier is the step-over espalier. They are like a normal espalier, but with just one horizontal branch very close to the ground. They are particularly interesting because they still produce delicious fruit while providing a border for whatever you want. I have used step-over trees to fence of my garden. They are definitely my favorite shape of tree, mainly because they are like a fence that bears fruit. What's not to love? As you can see, each of these shapes has its own benefits and negative aspects as well. If any of these sounds like they would be a good fit for your garden, you can ask your local nursery employees for advice on reading material that will help you achieve your goals. Most of the time, getting the tree into the desired shape is a very easy process and just requires some guidance at the beginning. Dealing with Bird Problems If you are lucky enough to have a cherry tree in your yard, I am sure I don't need to tell you how much enjoyment can come from them. Just eating the delicious cherries that spawned from your tree is a rewarding experience in itself. Looking out your back window and seeing a magnificent, glorious cherry tree is also rewarding. Most people are impressed just by the fact that you have a cherry tree, because they are usually thought of by non-gardeners as some sort of exotic plant. But along with the joys that a cherry tree can bring, there are many annoyances. They seem to attract more unwanted creatures than any other plant in the world. Almost every day it seems like there is a new type of pestilence swarming the tree, trying to get a nibble of its delicious fruits. I can't say I blame them, but if they want to eat delicious fruits then they should grow their own trees. One of the main and most constant problems that most people deal with is birds eating the fruit off the tree. It can seem almost impossible to get rid of this pest. After all, they can come in from any angle and make a quick getaway with the cherries. Or they can sit undetected in the branches and munch away all day. A bird certainly has its versatility on its side. Those little guys can be a real hassle to catch or repel. However, there are several different ways you can deter the birds from your house. The most used way of repelling birds is to place a plastic owl within the vicinity of the house. If you find any animal that usually eats birds and purchase a plastic version, usually real birds will be instinctual enough to avoid it. These can include snakes, owls hawks, or scarecrows (OK, maybe they don't eat birds normally. But they sure scare the birds for some reason). Most of the time you can purchase these at your local gardening store. If you want a different version or a more lifelike representation, if you look online then you're sure to find something that will work. If you get a plastic animal of some sort, usually it will cure the bird problem for a while. However, some birds are just really brave (or really stupid) and will continue to eat from your tree. Almost any reflective surface or noisy object will prevent the birds from coming too close. I personally like to use reflective tape designed for scaring birds. You can purchase this at any gardening store. I usually use this in combination with a large assortment of wind chimes for maximum scaring. Once you have a plastic animal along with reflective items and noisy items, almost all birds will be too terrified to even go close. While airborne creatures might take a little more than their share of fruit, you should still consider leaving one tree exclusively for them. While they might seem like a pest sometimes, birds can be the one thing that livens up your garden. If you're used to having birds and then all of a sudden you've scared them all away, you'll feel like there is something missing from your yard. Something that, on the inside, you truly loved all along. Training Branches to go where You Want Many people associate pruning with changing the structure of your tree to fit a different shape or style. However, this is not the case. Altering the structure of the tree is known as "Tree Training". This is a much better way to develop an alternate form for your tree. Pruning should be used to prevent diseases, prevent lopsidedness, and encourage healthier fruit growth. Pruning is also used to maintain the proper shape for the tree. For example, if you have an abundance of branches on one particular side of the tree, then you will use pruning to get rid of the larger segments which weigh down the tree to one side. Think about it more in terms of maintaining rather than altering. While pruning is useful occasionally, most of the time you can use training as a healthier and more efficient alternative. Training has not been around for very long. Through tying down branches or propping them up from the ground, one can direct the growth of the tree to take whatever shape they want. This theory is usually used in the early days of the tree to encourage it to develop fully. If you direct the tree and get it started off on the right foot, you'll save yourself a lot of pruning time later. Usually, training occurs during the summer. Rather than just cut off all the branches that aren't going in the right way, you try to redirect them. The mechanisms you use can be thought of as orthodontic braces for your fruit tree. They pull or push the branches, like teeth, in whatever direction you want them to go. Eventually they naturally grow that way due to your training. It can be hard to decide how exactly to train your tree. There are many different forms and shapes to choose from. Some are meant to allow a high density of trees in one orchard, and some are meant to provide maximum fruit bearing per tree. Depending on where your tree is and how you want it to function, you will have to look for different types of forms that will perfectly fit your situation. The theories of training can also be applied even if you are growing a tree in the traditional (natural) form. Sometimes branches will grow too close together and block each other out, so training them to grow away from each other can prevent the need to prune them later. This is highly beneficial even if you are just growing a tree in your backyard, in a non professional environment. To train a tree, you will need some sort of outside brace to push or pull a branch. Alternately, if you want to push 2 branches closer together or further apart, you can place something in between them or lash them together with rope. Successfully training your branches just takes a little imagination in deciding what to tie things to and what to push things off of. I have found that stakes, fences, or simply an upright two by four leaning away can work wonders. There is no tree grower that couldn't benefit from using a little training in their tree growing escapades. Whether you have decided to give your trees a completely new form, or just optimize the branch placement for healthier fruit, there is surely some way that training can benefit you.
Dealing with Moths Having a steady supply of fresh fruit from your backyard is quite a nice thing. Many people strive to attain this dream. However, many people fail to realize how easy it is to obtain a fairly serious infestation of worms in their fruit. I can't think of anything more unpleasant than biting into an apple off of the tree you've slaved over for so long, only to find that you have not been diligent enough with your pesticides. Even though it seems like a hassle to always be spraying pesticides, it is something that you should never overlook. Spraying pesticides is a fairly quick and easy process, and you shouldn't have to do it very often at all. Believe me; it is worth it to just get out there in the yard every couple of weeks and spray. Spraying can seem like a time consuming process. After all, you have to go out and buy all the supplies, mix the chemicals, apply them, and clean up everything you used in the process. Sometimes you'll even need a ladder to reach all segments of the trees. The entire process can take as long as four hours if you have several large trees. Doing this every 2 weeks can get very tiresome and irritating. However, you should always persevere. Usually being adamant in your regular spraying will help prevent infestations of such things as moths, but sometimes it's just not enough. Usually you can recognize of moths have laid eggs on your trees by the ends of the branches. If you notice something that looks like a cluster of moth eggs, you should immediately prune the branch you found it on and destroy it. Check the rest of the tree very thoroughly. If the eggs were to hatch, you would have a huge amount of moth larvae crawling around through your tree and into your fruits. I don't know about you, but the very thought of this makes me wretch. I once had a friend who was dealing with a very bad moth infestation. He couldn't find a single fruit on his tree that didn't have a worm inside of it. He ended up having to cut down the entire tree (the stump was a wriggling mass of white larvae. I threw up when I saw it. Damn my weak stomach!) and have the stump professionally removed to get rid of all traces. Having to start completely over on a tree you've worked on for so long is an absolute travesty. I myself live in the same area as that friend I just mentioned, and I have never had a problem with moths. This is because every Saturday during springtime, I make it part of my schedule to go outside and spray down my entire tree. Preventing the infestation of unwanted guests is much better than having to cut down a tree and start completely over just because of a little laziness. If you have not thought of spraying pesticides in the past, you should head to your local gardening supplies store today. Find out what pests are most prevalent in your area, and buy the appropriate pesticides to prevent them from ever visiting your trees. I urge you not to brush this off, as it will save you lots of trouble in the long run. How to Prevent Small Fruits The one thing that usually shocks new tree growers is the fact that the fruits produced by their tree are much smaller than the ones they're used to seeing at the grocery store. "What is wrong with my tree?!", "My God! What have I done!?" are some cried you may hear from the disgruntled tree grower. However, small fruits are a natural occurrence. But while smaller fruits might be what nature originally intended, it is possible to attain larger fruits without any genetic altering or added chemicals. It is only through advanced techniques that the professionals reach such large sizes with their fruits. Usually in the early stages of a fruit trees growing, veterans do something called "fruit thinning". The theory behind this process is that with less fruits to pay attention to, the tree will be able to more efficiently send cells to the leftover fruits. When there are hundreds of little fruits on one tree, competing for the available materials necessary for growth, you will most likely just end up with a bunch of stunted fruits. To take care of this problem, simply pluck a third of the fruits extremely early on in the process. You should notice larger fruits that season. On almost any tree, the success of each individual fruit depends on the spacing. Usually there should not be any fruits within six to eight inches of each other. During the fruit thinning process, this is the distance you should generally aim for to optimize the amount of nutrition that each fruit gets. Any closer and you'll find they are crowding each other out. Usually this is the first mistake that a new tree grower makes. Having tons of fruit starting to grow is not always a good thing! Sometimes small fruits are caused by conditions out of the gardener's control. During the process of cell division that all new fruits go through, cool weather can be fatal to the largeness of your fruits. Likewise, if the weather is particularly cloudy very early in the season, then fewer carbohydrates will be available to your plants. Occasionally, if the factors are all against the well being of your fruit tree, then the fruits will drop to the ground before they are even ripe. A lack of water or certain nutrients, or excessive pests and diseases can also damage the growth of fruits. If you notice these things going on early in the season, you should do more fruit thinning than normal. Sometimes as much as three fourths of the fruits should come off, to allow full nutrition to those who remain. The best way to find out how to gain larger fruit sizes is to experiment. If your tree has been around for a while, there is almost nothing you can do to it to cause it to die or stop producing fruit. Just test different thinning techniques or anything you can think of to make the fruits larger. You might even head down to your local nursery and enquire about what they would suggest. They will be able to give you advice based on your region and specific tree, which is better than anything I could tell you. So don't settle with small fruits. Go out there and find out what exactly you need to do to improve the size. Protecting Trees with Bird Netting If you have a problem with birds, you have probably tried many solutions. Some of the most popular include plastic animals, scarecrows, wind chimes, or highly reflective tape. All of these things can do a great job of reducing bird problems. I have quite a few cherry trees in my backyard, and I used to struggle a lot with birds. After I applied all of these solutions, my problem went almost completely away. Unfortunately, the solution only lasted a few months. Apparently, birds have a natural tendency to get bolder as time goes by. While at first my scarecrow scared them senseless, now I look outside and see them sitting on his shoulder. And munching on cherries from my tree. Those insolent little fiends! I'm not saying I mind birds. I love having them around my yard. But you see, I've already designated one tree specifically for allowing birds to eat off of. But it seems that birds can't be content with what they're given. They always feel the need to go over to my own trees when there is a tree just for them that doesn't have any scary things around it. I saw many gardening stores marketing a type of bird netting. I decided to use it. Bird netting is basically a giant net that you throw over the entire tree. The holes are about one half of an inch wide. I purchased enough of this to cover one whole tree. It was quite a hassle to install, but it definitely worked after that. I didn't have any more problems with birds taking cherries from that tree. But one day I woke up and made my daily rounds. On that day, I found 2 birds caught in the netting that had been choked to death. I felt absolutely terrible. I buried the birds and immediately took down that netting. I didn't want to protect my tree at the cost of the birds' lives! Sure, I'll kill off a few bugs, but birds are a little too nice for me. For a while I felt too guilty to prevent the birds from eating any more. I thought that I would make it up to them by letting them feast on my cherries. I even took down my scarecrow. But a few months later I saw something in a fabric store that made me rethink my generosity. Almost every fabric store sells a material called "tulle". It is very fine netting with holes too small for any bird to fit its beak or head into. While it is easy to find, it is also extremely cheap. Buying enough to cover one tree ended up costing less than half of what it cost for the lethal bird netting. I installed the tulle onto my tree (I'll admit it was a lot harder to install than the bird netting was. I had to attach several large pieces together at the seams) and watched it for a day. I wanted to keep an eye on it every second, so that if a bird got caught I could quickly help it out. Fortunately, no bird ever got caught. Tulle is a much safer and cheaper alternative to bird netting, and I suggest it if you have any problems with birds. Just remember to let them have at least one tree for themselves! Sharing with birds is an essential part of being a good gardener. Dealing with Barren Trees One of the most frustrating things that can possibly happen to someone who has slaved for hours and hours in growing a fruit tree is the unexplainable barrenness that can sometimes occur when there should be a plethora of fresh fruit. I know this from experience. My neighbors all consider me the gardening guru because of my extensive knowledge. But this is only because gardening has been my passion for years and years, and like a sponge I have accumulated so much information in my mind. My learning has also come from past experiences with failure. For about 5 years after I started planting fruit trees, I did not see a single fruit for all my labor. I was nearly ready to give up, until I met who I think is truly the guru of gardening. I was in the gardening store, looking for some sort of new fertilizer to put my hope in for my quest to obtain fruit. I don't know if there was a look of desperation in my eyes, but a kindly old man came up and started speaking with me. He introduced himself as Ralph, and for some reason I opened up to him and told him about all of my difficulties. I've never been the type to spill all my problems on anyone who asks, but Ralph seemed like such a nice fellow that I just couldn't help it. And I'm glad I did, because what he taught me truly helped me to get my fruit trees in gear and start producing. I learned that generally, the inability to produce can be caused by a number of factors. Sometimes the tree is simply too young; If your tree is less than four years old, you shouldn't exactly expect it to be producing yet. If it has reached 4 years and you still have seen no sign of fruit, then you should start to consider other factors that might be causing the barrenness. If the tree is undergoing any type of water stress (this can be poor drainage, too much water, or too little water), then it will have trouble growing. If you suspect this is the case, you should evaluate your own watering techniques and compare them with the needs of the tree to see if you are causing water stress. Also always be on the lookout for any diseases or pest damages. If your tree is constantly being molested by all kinds of little creatures, then you can't expect it to be lively enough to produce fruit. If your tree blooms but still doesn't produce any fruit, this could be because of cold temperatures during the bloom. The coldness damaged the flower bud or damaged the baby fruit. Aesthetically the tree may look fine, but the inside could be damaged beyond any hope of ever seeing fruit. Unfortunately there isn't much you can do in this case except for wait until next year and hope that it doesn't happen again. If the tree's pollination process has not been fully completed, it could have troubles growing fruit. If you planted different varieties, you may find that the requirements are different than you had originally thought and they were incompatible. In this case you need to replant the correct combinations. Once I evaluated the conditions of my tree and everything that has occurred in its life, I realized that not only had I cross pollinated slightly incorrectly, but I was also giving my tree too much water. After I fixed these problems, I had learned my lesson and I have not had any trouble bearing fruit since then. So if you are struggling with a plant that is not being cooperative, you should consult an expert gardener. If you can find a gardening mentor like mine that is willing to teach you everything they know, then you should be able to get your garden on the right track with no problems. How to Safely Spray Pesticide If you want to protect your fruit tree from pests during the summer, this is almost impossible to accomplish without the use of pesticides or chemicals. This might scare some people into thinking that the actual fruits will contain traces of the chemicals. If you do things correctly, you can get rid of all the pests and not infect the actual tree. If you're going to be spraying chemicals, you most likely will be using either a handheld pump or a hose-end sprayer. If you're using the pump sprayers, you will be able to more accurately determine the mixing of the chemicals. Unfortunately, you won't be able to spray it very far. Usually it won't reach the tops of trees. This can be achieved with the hose end sprayers, but getting the correct mix of chemicals is quite a challenge. It all depends on your water pressure to get the correct mixture of chemicals, but water pressure is not constant. One day it might be lower, in which case your chemical content would be higher. The types of materials you buy for hose application are generally in an extremely strong form. They need to be severely diluted before they are weak enough to apply. When you are mixing the chemicals for spraying, you need to follow the directions exactly. You are dealing with dangerous chemicals, so its best to do exactly what the professionals recommend and wear the proper protective gear. When you're dealing with chemicals like this, you should always wear rubber gloves. Use the exact portions indicated on the label. Estimation won't work in this case, and you could end up killing your tree or not killing any bugs. You should usually start by putting in the proper amount of pesticide, and then top it off with all the water. Now comes the spraying. The goal is to spray the same amount over all the areas. You still don't want to spray so much that enough builds up to drip off of the leaves. Usually you will want to get a ladder so that you can get within spraying distance of all the portions of the tree. Apply the pesticide in even, full sweeps as to hit every piece. Never go over the same part twice, because that is when you start to drip. If you're dealing with a large and well developed tree, you should stand on a ladder under the base of the trunk. Spray all segments from the inside towards the outside. After you are done spraying the outer canopy, you're ready to get out from under there and work on the rest. Once you are done cleaning, be sure to fully and thoroughly clean off every bit of equipment you used, including your clothes. Don't include the clothes you wore while spraying in the rest of your family's laundry. While you're spraying for pests, the main thing to keep in mind is to avoid dripping onto the ground. When this happens, the pesticides will be absorbed by the roots of the tree and be transported to the actual fruits on the trees. As long as the pesticides stay on the outside and you wash your fruit thoroughly before you eat it, you will have nothing to worry about as far as being poisoned goes. Finding Drought Resistant Trees If you live in an area that is slightly parched of water, you know better than anyone that one of the things that decides whether a tree survives or not is your ability to supply it with sufficient water. Unfortunately, many people don't take this in to account when buying a tree. They will just go for the nicest looking tree, and then wish they could give it more water. If you do a little planning before you rush out and buy a tree, you should be able to find trees that can survive on lower amounts of water. Usually the most adaptable plants are the ones that are indigenous anyways. If you live in a zone that is suffering a water crisis, usually the only plants that survive are the ones that have been there all along. This is because they are used to the conditions and know how to survive. Just take a drive through the undeveloped regions of your city, and look at what trees are green. Find out their names, and buy them. They might not be the most attractive trees, but you rarely have to make any modifications to your soil to get them to grow. One of the trees that will grow almost anywhere without using much water is the "Scotch Pine". Not only does it grow at a very fast rate of 20 or more inches per year, it is hardy and drought tolerant. It usually grows between 25 and 35 feet, and it extremely easy to get started. Most nurseries sell these trees, especially in areas with lower amounts of water. There are many varieties available. Many fade to a yellowish brown color during the colder months, and this is usually what causes some people to dislike them and others to love them. However, there are varieties available that do not do this. The Rocky Mountain Juniper is an extremely hardy and easy to grow tree. Its bark also turns a browner color during the winter, and rejuvenates in late spring. They are frequently used as windbreaks because of how tough they are. These trees are also great if you are trying to attract different varieties of birds to your yard. They provide great branches to nest in. Unfortunately the Rocky Mountain Juniper doesn't grow as fast as other hardy plants like it. The rate is less than 10 inches per year. Another one of the most popular drought resistant trees is the Russian Olive. This tree is impressive and will definitely turn some heads once it is fully grown. It is more decorative than the trees mentioned above, and will reach 20 or 25 feet once it is fully grown. They are able to grow in almost any soil, and attract birds with the berries they produce. As you can see, there are many options for you if your water is limited. There are many others that I have not mentioned, and depending on your area you may be able to find a preferable variety. Do a Google search for hardy plants that will survive in your area, and you should be presented with a large list. If you can't find that list, just go outside and see what is currently flourishing. That is the best indication of what you should buy. Growing Trees for Shade If you are currently trying to plant trees in order to shade your garden, you will probably want something that grows very fast and provides plenty of shade. With the many types of trees available, you will have no problem finding a variety that will grow extremely fast and provide all the shade that your garden needs to survive. There are also many things you can do to speed up the growth of trees. Generally trees are separated into two categories: long lived and short lived. If you are just looking for some temporary shade for your garden, you should stick to a short lived tree. But if you plan on keeping it for years, go for a long lived tree. If you decide on a short lived plant, you are probably looking for something with speedy growth. This means the root system will be particularly aggressive, so be sure not to place it near any septic tanks or other deep rooted plants. If the roots have plenty of area to grow, then they will shoot out extremely fast and your tree will take off in growth. Your placement should also be based on the tree's relative position to the area you are wanting to shade. You should keep it to the western or southern sides for maximum shading. Preparing your soil well for the shade trees can be the best way to enhance the plant growth speed. The bigger hole you dig for the root ball, the better. Also when you dig out the soil from the hole, you should work it over well before you replace it. This will allow the roots to penetrate through the soil better. If you mix in all your fertilizer and nutrients to the soil before you replace it, you will end up with a superior tree. Also try to use organic materials as mulch. Bark and any branches or twigs work well for this, and will encourage the quick growth. When you buy your shade tree, it will usually come with the root ball balled up and in a burlap bag. It might also be grown in a container or simply with bare roots. If you get a tree in a burlap bag, you should plant it anywhere between fall and early spring. Trees grown in containers are ok to plant at almost any time of the year. If the tree just has bare roots, then the ideal planting time is anytime in winter and early spring. If you buy a tree that has been grown in a container, make sure that the roots are not constricted by the container. This will usually cause the roots to go in circles underground after you plant it. After you buy the tree and before you plant it, be sure to constantly add moisture to it. The ideal planting process would include putting it in the ground at the proper depth, and replacing the soil without compressing it too much. Immediately after planting, you should give the tree its first watering before putting the layer of mulch on. You should always use organic mulch, and have a 2 or 3 inch layer of it at the base of your tree. You should always use nitrogen fertilizer during the first segment of the tree's life. Simply follow the instructions on the label in order to find out exactly how much to apply and when to apply it. Never apply too much fertilizer while the tree is young. You should usually wait until it has been established for about a year. The fertilizer that you do add should be sufficiently watered down. If you are trying to grow a tree speedily, there are many more things that you need to consider. However, with proper planning you can create the perfect environment for the tree to spring right up and provide you with plenty of shade within months. The Many Types of Cherry Trees One of the most pleasant trees you can possibly maintain is a cherry tree. The word Cherry is derived from the name of an ancient city in Turkey. It describes both the tree and the fruit it produces. A cherry fruit is classified as a "drupe". In the center it has a single hard core that holds the seed. The outside of the fruit is smooth and might have a small groove down one side. There are hundreds of different varieties of cherry. There are two main groups that cherries can fall under. It is either a wild cherry or a sour cherry. Wild cherries are generally used for plain eating, and originated in Europe or western Asia. Usually if you buy a bag of cherries from the store, you can guess that they are wild cherries. The other type, sour cherries, also originated in Europe and western Asia. These are less pleasant to eat, and are used more in cooking situations, including the production of jam or jelly. Cherry trees aren't just known for their delicious fruits. They are also popular for their beautiful flowers or blossoms. The clusters of flowers that appear in the spring are rather breathtaking, and have inspired many a song or poem. If you're looking to plant a cherry tree, you might consider black cherries. It is best known for being the tallest tree available, and producing beautiful white clumps of flowers. The fruit, which becomes ready to pick in the summertime, is small and black. The only negative aspects about this tree are its vulnerability to certain caterpillars, and the tendency for the fruits to fall on their own and stain concrete. That's why it is best to keep them over grass rather then near a sidewalk. Another one of the most beautiful types of trees is the purple leaved plum. Contrary to its name, it isn't a plum but rather a larger type of cherry. Its tree is most recognizable for its strikingly purple flowers. Through the course of its flowering season, they usually change from deep purple to light pink. Either way, you'll probably be the only one on the block with such a colorful tree. One of its strong points is that it is particularly resistant to pests. The Amur Chokeberry is most recognizable for its golden bark on the trunk and branches. When its flowers bloom in the middle of spring, they are very small and white. These trees specifically require moist, but well-drained soil. If your yard can't supply that, then this is probably a tree you should skip. This tree is one of the most susceptible to pests and diseases unless you live in a very cold climate. It is one of the most high maintenance trees, but the cherries are delicious and the flowers are some of the lushest. No matter what your yard or soil situation is like, you should have no problem finding a cherry tree that will do well in your area. They are a great thing to add to your yard, and when it flowers it will take the breath away from everyone that looks at it. It works great as a focal point for any garden. So go to your nursery today, and enquire about what types of cherry trees are known for doing well in your region. You're bound to find something you like. Different Types of Apple Trees In the past, there have been only a couple different kinds of apple trees that you could buy. But now, thanks to the wonders of genetic engineering, if you want to buy an apple tree you are able to choose between many different types of apples and flavors. Here I will outline five different popular types of apples that you can consider for your first apple tree. First introduced in Japan, the Fuji apple has been around since 1962. The Fuji apple has yellow-green skin with red streaks down the side. The inside is delicious and sweet. It is white, firm, crunchy, and very flavorful. It becomes ripe in the middle of September, but tastes the best if it is left to fully mature until October or November. These apples will start growing early and grow in abundance. They are good for pollinating other apples. The Fuji tree can tolerate wet, dry, or poor soil, but the fruit quality will most likely reflect the quality of the soil. The apples always taste the best when they are fresh, and are great for cooking. Gala apples are a wonderful tasting import from New Zealand. The Gala apple has yellow skin with a slight hint of red, and it is medium sized. The insides are yellow, very juicy, firm, crisp, and smell excellent. When they are fresh they are one of the best tasting apples you can grow. They grow quickly, and the trees bear heavily. They become ripe in late July. They are generally not used for cooking, just because Fuji is a better alternative. The trees can grow in wet, dry, and poor soil as well. The delicious Brae Burn apples' color varies from gold with red streaks to almost completely red. It was first popularized some time in the late 1940's. It was also originally from New Zealand along with the Fuji, and is now the best selling apple in Germany. The insides are white, crisp, aromatic, firm, and juicy. They are sweet, but also slightly tart. The size varies from medium to large. They were introduced to the United States around 1980, and met with great enthusiasm. They are some of the most popular apples in the world. They generally don't become brown too quickly after being cut. They become ripe around October or November. As red as its name proclaims, the Red Delicious apple is very tall and large. Their yellow insides are crisp, sweet, juicy, and delicious. They are grown across the country, and are great to put in salads. They are usually recognized by their distinct heart shape. They were first introduced in 1874 in Peru, Iowa. They become ripe in mid to late September. They are usually best when they are fresh off the tree. Golden Delicious apples have great, juicy flavor. Their insides are firm, white, crisp and sweet. They are great for cooking because even when they are cooked or baked they keep their great taste and shape. The skin is thin and soft. They are great for salads. They range in size from medium to large. They are shaped much like the red delicious apple. The insides are crisp, juicy, sweet, and mild. Many people enjoy them, although they bruise rather easily. They become ripe in late September. They are good for many purposes, and they last a long time if not handled roughly. Picking the Right Orange Tree If you live in a hot, humid sub-tropical zone like Florida or California, you have many options for growing fruit trees. You are lucky enough to be able to support almost any type of plant as long as you prevent pests from taking over. You should consider growing an orange tree, as these are usually easy to maintain and produce some of the most delicious fruits. The orange is one of the most popular fruits worldwide due to its sweetness, juiciness, and distinctive flavor. The orange tree can reach up to 50 feet in height towards its later years, so you should definitely take that into account when planning. Even if you're starting with a very small tree, plan ahead and place it in an open area so that it will have plenty of room to expand. If you make the same mistake I did, you will end up having to renovate your yard to some extreme measures, such as taking out an entire shed. Just take the necessary precautions beforehand and avoid all of this trouble. The ideal soil for growing an orange tree would be fine sand with great drainage. The soil should be deep enough to allow for extensive root development, since the trees are known for reaching monstrous sizes and requiring lots of support from down below. If you have shallow, easily saturated soil then you should either do something to remedy it or move onto a different type of tree. It is most likely that attempting to grow an orange tree in these conditions would be disastrous. One of the more popular types of orange is the "Washington Navel". It probably came about as a mutation of other oranges. It originated in Brazil around 1820, and had moved on to Florida within fifteen years. It is characterized by being one of the largest of all available oranges. The peel or rind is easily removed. Usually it is not as juicy as other oranges, but has an intense flavor. These are the most popular orange trees for commercial growing. If you decide on one of these trees, you probably won't have to water as much. Another type of orange is the "Trovita". It was invented sometime in the early 1900s at a lab in California devoted to experimenting with new types of citruses. It started being publicly marketed around 1940. It doesn't have a very strong flavor, and has more seeds than a Washington Navel. However, it was designed to be more adaptable to harsher, hot and dry environments that would not be acceptable for other types of orange. Some of the more popular oranges in Florida right now are mutations of this type. The 'Valencia' is one of the most juicy and flavorful oranges. It is most popular in South Africa and the southern USA states. Until about 20 years ago, Valencia oranges made up a strangely large portion of the orange market due to its popularity. It is thought to have been invented in China. It has almost no seeds. Another subgroup of Valencia oranges are the "Rhode Red Valencia" oranges. These were created around 1960, so they are slightly more recent than other types. Various mutations occurred and the trees that grew as a product of them were large and extremely hardy. The oranges themselves are more juicy and less acidic than the standard Valencia oranges. Orange trees are a great thing to get planted, because with just a little effort in the planting process you will be able to enjoy hundreds of delicious fruits every year. Just pick whatever orange sounds the most delicious, and go with it! Before you purchase a tree, you should of course consult a local expert to make sure your desired type will flourish in your area. Usually this won't be a problem, but it is always good to make sure before you spend the money and time. Preventing Diseases in Fruit Trees If you maintain any pitted fruit trees such as plums, peaches, or cherries, I'm sure you know that those types of trees are much more susceptible to diseases than any other type. While the fruits are delicious, it can be rather hard to live with all of the maladies that can plague the life of everyone who has ever grown one of those types of fruit trees. The main disease that you will hear about the most is known as "Brown Rot". This is a fungus that attaches to many of the leftover fruits after the picking season is over. Not only does it look disgusting on the leftover fruits, but it also can come back on the newer fruits, rendering them inedible (unless you enjoy eating fungus). To prevent this malady, you should prune your trees often to encourage good air circulation. Buildups of moisture are the main cause of the brown rot. Also when you are done picking for the season, you should get rid of all of the leftover fruits in the tree or on the ground. A cytospora canker is a disgusting dark, soft area on tree branches. Gum protrudes through the bark, along with a large callus. The pathogen which causes these cankers usually enters the tree through older wounds. If you prune all of the sprouts that occur in late summer, cankers will have a harder time making themselves known within your tree. When you prune, always allow the wounds to heal naturally rather than use the wound dressings that you can buy at gardening stores. I've found that these usually do very little to help any situation, and only serve to make the tree look unnatural. Those planting plum trees might deal with something called Black Knot. The symptoms of black not are rough tumors or growths that can be seen on the tree's branches. If you see any of these, you should immediately chop off the branch it has attached to. If you use branches for mulch usually, don't for this one. This disease can easily re-enter the tree if it is within a certain distance. Almost everyone who has ever maintained a cherry tree has dealt with the "Cherry Leaf Spot". It usually shows itself when there are old dead leaves accumulated on the ground. Preventing this disease is fairly easy. All you have to do is be fairly diligent in raking up all of the leaves that fall from your tree. If you have already seen signs of the disease, you should destroy all of your raked leaves. If not, then you can use them as mulch. When your fruits ripen and become ready for picking, you should always be completely finished with picking within 2 weeks. It is best to daily go outside and pick all of the new ripe fruits, along with any that have fallen off of the tree or are starting to rot on the tree. By doing this, you will prevent bees and wasps from becoming too dependent on your tree for nourishment. Growers of fruit trees are constantly faced with diseases and pests to worry about. However, if you take the proper precautions then you can avoid most of them. You should also look for any diseases that have been affecting your local area, and try to take steps to prevent those as well. Starting an Orchard If you have a large amount of land that you have not put to use, you may consider planting an orchard. If you've had previous experiences with planting and maintaining trees, that is an added reason why you would be perfect for maintaining an orchard. It might seem like an overwhelming thing to undertake, but it is actually fairly simple. All it takes is some commitment. If you've never grown a tree on your property, you might not want to make the time and money investment of buying lots of trees. If you are inexperienced, you will want to start with just one or two trees so that you can get a feel for the growing process. Once you have seen one tree along all the way to adulthood successfully, you are probably experienced enough to handle multiple trees. You should never plant so many trees that you are going to be overwhelmed, though. Only plant what you can handle. Generally if you are getting started on a large amount of trees, you will want them to all be the same type. If they all require the same amount of water and nutrients, you won't have to spend as much time catering individually to the different types of tree. As an added benefit, you will become very familiar with the process of growing that specific tree. You won't be overwhelmed by having many different types, but instead you will become a master of that specific type. If you already have a tree growing on your property that you have maintained from its childhood, then you know that the soil is acceptable for that type of tree and ones similar to it. Since you've already been through the process of growing that type of tree before, you shouldn't have any problem testing all of the soil to make sure it is similar to the segment you already planted on. Then it is just a matter of growing more trees and causing the process to be the same as it was before. Since you've already dealt with the same problems in the past, you probably have a good idea of how to deal with any pests that might come about during growth. Generally in an orchard, the trees are planted in a row, then pruned to be in a two dimensional shape. This is known as either a fan or an espalier shape. There is one main branch in the center that is completely vertical, then multiple branches that go off to the side. If the side branches are horizontal it is known as an espalier. If they are sloped, it is known as a fan. Generally these 2 shapes are used in orchards because of how compact they are. By using them, you allow for many more trees to be in the certain amount of space. However, if land conservation is not an issue or you're not looking to be efficient, you should probably stick with the traditional tree shape. To aid in the watering of your trees, you should install either a sprinkler system or an irrigation system. The sprinklers require more maintenance, but if you dig an irrigation ditch then it is really easy to just run the faucet for a few minutes every day and reach all the trees. It's just a matter of what you would prefer. Once your tree collection starts to bear large amounts of fruit, you can consider starting a fruit stand or participating at the farmers market. Instead of letting the fruits go to waste or trying to eat them all (which can lead to some bad stomach aches), you can let the rest of the world enjoy the product of your intense labor. If you become a popular vendor, you might even make back a decent return on your investment. However, you can't count on making very much money. Starting an orchard shouldn't be a capitalistic investment. You should only start one if you have a passion for trees. Selling at Farmer's Markets Usually the main motivation for planting a fruit tree is just the joy of maintaining a tree and eating the delicious fruit that comes from it. However, in my personal experience it is possible to go on a quite lucrative venture with fruit trees by operating a fruit stand or participating in a farmer's market. When I moved to Florida, I was slightly depressed at the fact that I had just left behind years and years of hard work to get my lawn to the point it was. However, I was able to healthily channel this depression into the desire to get a new and more beautiful garden and lawn setup going. The house I moved into was nice, but the previous owner obviously had no gardening prowess. The lawn was barren of any features besides grass. Lots and lots of grass. I decided that since I was now in a new climate that I had never experienced before, I would grow some trees that I didn't have the opportunity to grow before. I decided to do the truly Floridian thing to do, and get a few orange trees. It was a lot easier than I had imagined. I've had some rather disastrous experiences with planting trees in the past, and planting the orange trees was no problem at all. I decided to go with Valencia oranges, just because they are the most popular orange to grow and almost everyone is able to grow them successfully. After I picked out what type of orange I wanted, I decided to get three trees. It took me about 3 days to dig all the necessary holes and install the trees. It was a flawless operation, and I truly felt like an expert. The trees grew healthy and straight, and produced fruit at the time of year they were expected to. For the three or four years, my orange trees didn't produce very much fruit. Sure I never ran out of oranges for my own personal usage, and I drank almost nothing but orange juice, but I didn't have the ludicrous amount that you might expect from 3 trees. I wouldn't say I was disappointed with my trees. I was happy to be getting any fruit at all. But I had heard of people getting thousands and thousands of oranges from several trees, and I was slightly baffled as to why I wasn't so fortunate. About a year after that, my orange trees really took off. I walked outside one day to see about 5 times as many oranges as I had grown in any previous seasons. I thought I was seeing things, but they all stuck around. I harvested so many oranges that year, I hardly even knew what to do with all of them. That was when my neighbor suggested to me that I sell at a farmer's market. I found out the time that they go on, and rented a spot for my truck (some farmers markets allow you to come and sell for free, but mind charged rent just to park your truck). Within the first day at the farmer's market, I had made back all the money I spent on the original trees. My oranges were truly a hit, and I was getting more customers than any of the other participants. After that week, I didn't miss a day at the farmer's market. It wasn't enough money to live off of, but it was a good amount for just selling some oranges. Besides, what else would I have done with them? I certainly couldn't have eaten them all by myself. So if you have an excess of fruit, you should never throw it away or try to eat it all by yourself. Take it to the farmer's market and try to get some extra cash for your gardening labor. If your products are delicious, you might just be a hit with the consumers.
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