FRUIT GROWING IN WALLED-IN PRIVATE GARDENS

A summary of the kinds and varieties of fruit trees and bushes which might, be. found.outdoors in a large walled-in (private) garden and comments. on the main features follows:

Fruit grown on walls

In a private garden use would be made of walls (which would

probably be of brick and 3 metres or so high). Specific use

would be made of the various aspects, I.e. walls facing north,

south, east or west.

The warmer conditions associated with a south-facing wall are used for fan trained peaches or nectarines, also gages or dessert plums. Some of the choice varieties of pears which require warm conditions to finish are also grown in this position.

A north-facing wall is usually used for cordon trained redcurrants or gooseberries (for a late crop) or Morello cherries as fan trained trees.

An east-facing wall is mainly used for apples, plums or pears, often the later flowering varieties.

A west-facing wall is used for apples, pears or plums.

Comments on types (forms) of trees used

The form of trained tree relates to the type of pruning required for the individual fruits, e.g. apples and pears which are spur pruned on walls are grown as cordons and espaliers although they can be grown as fans. Dessert gooseberries are also grown as cordons.

Peaches, nectarines and plums are not spur pruned and the young replacement growths are tied to wires against the walls and trees are grown as fans.

In some large private gardens espalier or cordon apples and pears are planted alongside paths or roadways to utilise space, although where crops are grown nearby – spraying or use of weedkillers can be made difficult.

Cordon and espalier trees are well suited to growing against walls or fences, but have a high labour requirement for pruning, and the same applies to fan trained plums and peaches.

Cordon apples and pears, which can be planted at close spacing, I. e… 1 – metre apart, allow a large number of dessert varieties to be- grown in a limited space, thus providing a long period of cropping, whereas commercially only a few varieties are grown and are picked over a short season.

In the larger private gardens as well as fruit trees on walls, some would be planted as bush or half standard trees in a separate plot, e.g. apples, pears and plums, sometimes in the open garden area in cultivated soil, sometimes in grass in an area outside the garden itself. Here again the accent is usually on a wide range of varieties, and with apples and pears a special emphasis on late keeping varieties, to extend the season over as long a period as possible.

Natural storage of the fruits may mean that a domestic supply may be maintained at least until April.

A professional fruit grower stores his apples or pears in refrigerated gas controlled storage. In this system run at about 3.5°C, the concentration of the gas in the chamber is about 92%N, 5% C02 and 3% O .

The alteration to the gas concentration is achieved by the removal of C02.

Sophisticated control and monitoring systems are desirable and are a normal provision since a 100 ton store full of quality fruit is a very valuable asset.

Fruit grown in borders under walls

The border at the base of a north-facing wall may be used for a late crop of strawberries, often using a late variety to further extend the season.

A north-facing border can also be used for a late crop of blackcurrants, again using a late variety.

The border at the base of a south-facing wall may be utilised for early strawberries to take full advantage of the warmer conditions on this aspect, plus the benefit of the wall, which stores heat and may bring forward blossoming by 7 to 10 days.

General points

Varieties grown

Whilst normally a very wide range of varieties is grown in private gardens to give as long a natural season as possible, with apples and pears especially, many of these varieties would be regarded as non-commercial for various reasons; e.g. not heavy enough cropping, poor shape, or susceptible to disease.

Storage of apples and pears is usually in a fruit room with wooden racks being sited on a north-facing aspect and often below ground level to give even cool storage conditions.

In a large private garden, birds can be a serious problem as far as soft fruit is concerned and a permanent fruit cage is often used for raspberries and gooseberries, and sometimes strawberries, although the latter are easily protected by nets. A fruit cage is usually 25 mm (1 inch) mesh wire-netting, and is expensive initially but essential in many areas.

Trees on walls can be netted fairly easily to give protection of the fruit from bird damage.

It is usual to find a fig tree, cherries, hazel and walnuts in a well stocked private garden, and also loganberries and a few kinds of fruit produced over as long a season as possible.

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