Why we grow trees.
We love trees and shrubs! They give us height in our garden and give it an extra dimension. We’ve chosen trees and shrubs for our own garden and for those of our customers that provide colour and seasonal interest throughout the year. That can come from flowers, fruit, autumn leaves or winter silhouettes.
It’s important to select the right size and number of trees to fit with the size of your garden. What fits in now might not in the future - bear in mind the mature height and spread of what you’re planning to plant!
In our garden we have a Victoria plum, a Katy apple and an upright flowering cherry – or Prunus Umineko to give it it’s formal name! The eucalyptus we also planted needs to come out – ok we didn’t follow our advice and after a good few years it’s finally outgrown its space!
We’ve talked in the past about size and shape – have a look here https://www.trugandlettuce.co.uk/post/it-s-time-to-think-fruit-trees
Now is a great time to choose and plant one.
One of the important things you need to consider if you’re choosing a fruit tree is how your tree will be pollinated. All fruit trees need to be pollinated in order to carry fruit.
Cross pollination happens when two fruit trees of different but compatible varieties are in flower at the same time and the pollen from one fertilises the flower of the other.
There’s a good reason for having plants around your trees that will also attract pollinating insects!
We need to remember:
1. Firstly, fruit trees should not be planted in windy locations or at high altitude because the insects (bees) that carry the pollen from tree to tree will find it hard to fly in these conditions. This could mean that pollination might be less successful.
2. Secondly, just because two trees of the same type – for instance apple trees - are in flower at the same time does not mean they are compatible. It’s important to consider the pollination group of the tree that you choose as the fertility period of some varieties is very limited.
3. Thirdly, you need to consider if the tree you choose is itself sterile. This simply means that whilst your tree needs to be pollinated by others it’s unable to pollinate its neighbours. The best known of these is probably the Bramley. It can be fertilised by a wide range of other varieties but it fertilises nothing in return. If you are considering such a fruit tree, you will need two other varieties to pollinate each other as well as the sterile tree. This will mean that you get a maximum crop form all your trees.
4. Finally, some fruit trees are described as being self-fertile. This is true but to varying degrees and depends on the variety of tree. Most plums are self-fertile while almost no apples. Having a variety close by that will help pollination is better.
Doesn’t all that sound rather complicated? Well if you buy from a reputable grower or nursery – perhaps rather than from your local supermarket – they’ll be able to advise you. Or just ask us!
If you’re planning to do that now then read on……
How do I plant my tree?
Follow these simple rules whether you’ve got a bare root tree or one that’s be grown on in a pot:
1. Remove your tree from the pot or any fabric wrapping that might have been wrapped around the roots.
2. Tease out and spread the roots to get an idea of size of the hole they will need. Dig a planting hole that is no deeper than the roots, but is up to three times the diameter of the root system.
3. If the sides or base of the planting hole are compacted, break the soil up with your hands or a fork before planting.
4. If the tree arrived in a pot then scrape away the top layers of compost. The point where the roots start should be near the soil surface.
5. Place the plant in the planting hole. At this point and if the tree is bare rooted we often use something called Rootgrow – it’s the only plant treatment that’s endorsed by the RHS. It’s a Mycorrhizae fungus that helps the rapid development of the root structure for the tree.
6. Then refill the planting hole carefully making sure you place soil between and around all the roots to eliminate air pockets.
7. Firm the soil gently, avoiding compacting the soil too much.
8. Add a stake as necessary – and perhaps protection at the base of the tree if rabbits might be a problem.
That’s it. Stand back, admire what you’ve done and have a cup of tea!
And of course, there could be another reason why you might want to consider planting a tree. We hear a lot today about climate change, global warming and the harmful affects of CO2. Well there is research that says that trees can help that….
Trees as carbon sinks.
Trees require CO2 to live. In the complex process of photosynthesis, the tree will take CO2 from the surrounding air and use the sunlight to break it down into it’s carbon and oxygen parts.
The oxygen is released back into the atmosphere and the carbon is used in a variety of essential living processes. These can include the creation of sugars (carbohydrates) and the creation of substances, like cellulose, that are used in the formation of new cells and ultimately the formation of woody tissue.
A tree will also produce CO2 in the process of respiration where by oxygen is used to release energy stored in the carbohydrates (sugars) - much the same way as we do.
However, a tree will take more CO2 from the atmosphere in the process of photosynthesis than it releases in respiration. Some scientists refer to a tree as locking the carbon in its cells and refer to trees as a “carbon sink”.