I started planted a few of the potted trees back in September. These were mainly False Acacia, and Box Elder, grown from seed for the Coppice and Orchard. There are still a few of these to do, as I’ve been concentrating on the vegetable growing areas recently. That changed today, as I was told that the first batch of my fruit trees were due to arrive. These trees are cider apple trees, on M25 rootstocks. Sometimes the blog might make it seem that everything is always well planned, but these were an impulse purchase, sparked by my first proper attempt at cider making.
Earlier this year, a friend from the village was given a large cider press for his birthday. He very kindly wheeled it up here, and we had a pleasant few hours picking, scratting, and pressing my apples. The process is magical. Watching fruit transform into juice, was really enjoyable, and much easier than I expected. Chatting to Edward later, we decided to combine an order of cider apple trees, in order to get a discount. So 35 trees were ordered, and they were delivered this evening. 14 of them are mine.
I hadn’t included them in my Forest Garden design, but had roughly paced out where I might put the trees into the Coppice and Orchard areas. Today, armed with some canes, I positioned the trees more accurately, and realised that I would have to put five in the Forest Garden. That shouldn’t create too many problems, but I may need to find new positions a few of the smaller trees, when they arrive later in the Winter.
Apple trees need to be pollinated by a different variety. They are bee/insect pollinated, and bees will move directly from one tree to an adjacent tree. So they are more likley to fly along a row, than across to the next row. That’s pretty simple, but different trees flower at slightly different times. To make it simple they are divided into five ‘flowering groups’, from 1 to 5, with 1 being the earliest to flower, and 5 the latest. An apple tree needs to be pollinated by another variety that flowers at the same time. In effect, either from within the same group, or from one either side of it. How they are planted within those constraints is up to you.
One point to bear in mind is that apple roots avoid other apple roots. This means that the area that they have to forage in is constrained by the distance between individual trees. Pears will happily mix with other pears, and with apples. This means that if you have both types of tree, if you alternate them, thay can make better use of the available space.
For my trees, I am planting on a gentle, South facing slope. My system is to plant the earliest flowering groups higher up the slope, out of the frost pockets, and put the later flowering trees lower down. I already have a lot of apple trees, so it’s unlikely that there will be a pollination problem, but by grouping these new trees as if they were alone, I hope to improve the pollination, and increase the amount of fruit.
This afternoon I dug all of the holes ready to plant into tomorrow. I will use mycorrhizal fungi in the planting holes, and mulch with woody material to give the fungi a source of food.
Pictures to follow.
All of the best