Fruit Tree Newbie

By Amy Grant | August 14, 2021
Image by Schad1953
by Amy Grant
August 14, 2021

I’m new to fruit trees. Not that I haven’t always wanted to grow them. It just seemed so daunting. There’s all that pruning, fertilizing, pesticides, insecticides, and then you have to harvest the fruit”¦with a ladder. I don’t like ladders. 

Bing Cherries 

But here I am the proud owner of a ginormous Bing cherry tree. It is stunning, especially in the spring when it blooms. It does need a trim, however, but I would need, well, a cherry picker or something even larger to get up high enough to prune the upper regions. That’s okay; it means there are plenty of cherries for the birds. 

When we moved into this house, there was only one tree, the Bing cherry, and endless hours of hot, sweat making sun. So we invested in some trees and amongst them are two fruit trees. We did a bit of research before purchasing them. 

Multi-Grafted Dwarf Trees

Because I won’t climb higher than a utility ladder, we chose fruit trees that are semi-dwarf, which means they won’t get beyond 12-15 feet (4-4.5 m.) in height. Since our yard is on the small side we opted to get multi-grafted trees so we would get the benefit of different types of fruit. 

We got a multi-grafted apple and a multi-grafted pear. Each has four different varieties of apple or pear that ripen at slightly different times. We did read that the downside of a multi-graft fruit tree is that you may end up with a more dominant variety. That is, you may end up with tons of Gala apples and then at the end of the season two Pink Ladies. 

Keep Dominant Fruit in Check

The trick to a surfeit or deficit of certain cultivars is to pay careful attention to pruning, especially within the first few years of growth. The dominant variety should be pruned more heavily than the rest of the tree. The downside here is that the harder you prune, the more the dominant side will grow. The trick  is to prune in late summer rather than the usual time of winter. 

So, these trees are now three years old and, fingers crossed, ready to bear. I’ll let you know if our careful pruning and babying of the trees will result in bushels of fruit. I’m not getting on a step ladder unless there are”¦

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