Thanks to the nights closing in and the several feet of snow that have fallen, I didn’t make it to the allotment at all in December. That means that the hedge remains uncut, the paths remain unlaid, and the weeds remain unweeded. Here’s hoping January will be more productive.
What I have been able to do is plan and replan what we’ll grow where ready for the seed catalogue order to go in. No doubt the plan will continue to evolve until everything’s actually in the ground, but right now what’s getting me excited is the prospect of having fruit trees.
We’re keen to grow plenty of fruit as well as veg, including fruit bushes and a few fruit trees. Apples, pears, plums and cherries have all been discussed, and I think we can probably fit in four trees next year, and up to four more later on when we’ve finished clearing the plot.
Thankfully the ethos of our site is quite relaxed, so growing fruit trees shouldn’t get us in any trouble. We will need to keep them fairly small though: I reckon anything over 10ft tall would put us at risk of an allotment ASBO.
It seems that getting the size of fruit tree that you want is all about getting trees that have been grafted onto the right rootstock. For what we want–anything between about 6ft and 9ft tall trees–we’ll need our apples on M9, pears on Quince C, plums on Pixy, and cherries on Gisela 5.
In choosing varieties, I trust the RHS so am on the lookout for anything that’s got their Award of Garden Merit. Anything that’s got the RHS badge and is reputed to be tasty, heavy-cropping, and reliable (particularly in our slightly colder, northern climate) is likely to get the nod.
To make sure that we get fruit from our trees, I plan on making sure that they are either self-fertile or have a pollination partner on the plot. To complicate things further, pollination partners need to be of a different variety, but in flower at the same time.
Taking all that into consideration, this is the wish-list:
- Victoria: self-fertile plum, on Pixy
- Cambridge Gage: partially self-fertile gage, but will benefit from the Victoria, on Pixy
- Stella: self-fertile cherry, on Gisela 5
- Summer Sun: cherry, to be pollinated by the Stella, on Gisela 5
- Conference: self-fertile pear, on Quince C
- Comice de Doyenne: pear, to be pollinated by the Conference, on Quince C
- Braeburn: self-fertile apple, on M9
- Cox: self-fertile apple, on M9
To get us started, I’ve ordered the Victoria plum, the Cambridge gage, the Stella cherry, and some stakes and ties. Whether the Hagg House micro-climate will be suitable for them (thinking of the cherry in particular) remains to be seen, but there’s only one way to find out for sure, and that’s to give them a go.