Grow your own orchard

A fantastic project.

Grow your own orchard

In the community
You don't need special skills or an allotment, as orchards can be grown on derelict sites, schools and hospital plots – but always get the landowner's consent and organise a tenancy agreement.
Fruit needs sunlight to ripen, so choose a south-facing site and create wind barriers. Avoid chalky or waterlogged soils, and add plenty of compost. Avoid planting where fruit trees have been grown in the past, to avoid the build up of diseases.
Plant from November to February. Pick varieties that will fruit throughout the season and are compatible for pollination.
Draw your orchard on graph paper to ensure you have enough space and add the names and rootstocks of the varieties.

At home
Dwarf varieties of fruit only reach around 2 metres, so are perfect for petite plots. Try self-pollinating types on an 'M27' rootstock for apples, a 'Quince C' for pears or a 'Pixy' for a plum.
Choose a sheltered, sunny spot and a container around 60cm in diameter. Half fill with well-rotted compost, place your tree in the hole, back fill with soil and tie to a sturdy stake.
Keep well watered and mulch around the base. In spring, throw fleece over the developing buds if frost threatens.

Get help
Many local orchard groups sell heritage fruit trees – find your nearest group on www.orchardnetwork.org.uk.
Try a Creating an Orchard workshop with the East of England Apples and Orchards Project, www.applesandorchards.org.uk.
Learn more from Common Ground's Community Orchards Handbook, available from www.greenbooks.co.uk.

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