Many of us now have put our gardens to bed under a good layer of mulch, and contemplating what we’ll expand on next year. Fruit trees are a great investment as they will produce for many years, providing you with fresh food as well as a wonderful structural element in your garden.
First, think about the fruit you most enjoy eating. A favourite for many is the Italian Prune Plum. This tree grows well in our region and the fruit is delicious fresh, dried, as jam, or in baking – an all-around winner. There are a vast number of apples to choose from as well, from very old heritage varieties such as the Rhode Island Greening to the more recent hybrid Zestar. Talk to the knowledgeable people at your favourite nursery, they can provide good guidance in your selection depending on your site and your appetite.
Fruit trees need some basic care and do not have to be difficult to maintain over the years. The Cowichan Green Community offers a Tree Care and Pruning workshop every spring which is an invaluable primer on fruit tree care and maintenance. (Watch this newsletter for announcements in January.)
As with most plants, good soil promotes healthy growth. Ensure balanced nutrition for the soil microbes by putting finished compost in the planting hole. As well, place a 1 metre mulched area under the tree, but do not put mulch up against the tree trunk. You also want to aim for a minimum organic matter (OM) content of 3% in your soil and pH in the 6.3-6.7 range.
Trees can take years to grow to maturity, but it’s so enjoyable to watch them develop and ultimately to harvest the fruit, enjoying it fresh off the tree, in jam, dried, or frozen for winter pies. Planting trees is also an investment that will increase your property value, and feed you and your family into the future.
The Holistic Orchard: Tree Fruits and Berries the Biological Way
Michael Phillips, Chelsea Green Publishing, c. 2011
2205 Phipps Road, Duncan
Fruit Trees and More
724 Wain Rd., North Saanich
Le Coteau Nursery
304 Walton Place, Victoria
Ceres Edible Landscaping wants to help you grow food and maintain your garden as a healthy and ecologically diverse ecosystem. We provide garden consultations, design, installation and organic maintenance services from a permaculture perspective. Call Nora for an appointment: 250.748.8506.