1. Welcome Hearth.com Guests and Visitors - Please enjoy our forums!
    Hearth.com GOLD Sponsors who help bring the site content to you:
    Hearthstone Soapstone and Cast-Iron stoves( Wood, Gas or Pellet Stoves and Inserts)
    Caluwe - Passion for Fire and Water ( Pellet and Wood Hydronic and Space Heating)

Fruit Tree Advice

Post in 'The Green Room' started by timfromohio, Feb 12, 2012.

  1. timfromohio

    timfromohio Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2007
    Messages:
    520
    So I'm planning on planting a mini-orchard this Spring and torn between dward and semi-dwarf apple trees. There appear to be pros/cons of each. Dwarf might produce fruit sooner and the volume of the root structure is not as large so I'll not need to ammend quite as big a volume of soil for each planting site. They are also all grown on rootstock that seems like it's more susceptible to disease. Semi-dwarf might be more hardy, but longer until we reap any rewards and much larger amount of soil remediation would be required.

    Are my perceived pros/cons correct? Any opinions/advice would be appreciated.

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2009
    Messages:
    2,026
    Loc:
    The island of Rhum Boogie
    Every book I read said not to amend too much. You want the tree's roots to spread, and they will only do that if they're looking for food. Disease in trees is a never-ending cycle. Most fruit trees are continually dying of something, and most orchards are continually planting to combat this cycle.
  3. gparzych

    gparzych New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2012
    Messages:
    14
    Loc:
    CT
    I would stick to semi dwarf for a home orchard, pruned in a central leader style (you should be able to find info on that. Pros are that the trees will be self supporting (no pole or trellis needed), and due to larger size, will provide more fruit for a lower number of trees. You should be able to find disease resistant rootstocks if you're not too picky about the variety (I'd suggest choosing several different varieties that have different harvest windows). I'd take a look at heirloom varieties for disease resistance as well...there is a reason these varieties were grown back in the day before modern management practices.

    If you have 1/2way decent soil and are willing to fertilize (do it with compost, its free!) you should be okay. Your book may be providing the "ideal" environment, but apple trees grow well in the wild in many places, which means they don't need the PERFECT ratios of everything in the soil. I grow 250 acres of apples, peaches, pears, and stone fruits adn there is a lot of soil variation across all of my orchards. If I were setting up a homestead orchard, I'd go with semi dwarf in the most disease resistant varieties/rootstocks I could find and just learn to like the taste of those varieties.
  4. timfromohio

    timfromohio Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2007
    Messages:
    520
    Thanks for the replies so far.

    Gparzych - I was planning on ordering from either Miller Nurseries or Stark Brothers. Both have semi-dwarf trees on M7 rootstock. Is this OK? Also, how long would you expect before you'd get fruit from the semi- vs. dwarf?

    Again, thanks for all replies. I readily admit to overanalyzing this kind of stuff ...
  5. SolarAndWood

    SolarAndWood Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2008
    Messages:
    6,770
    Loc:
    Syracuse NY
    How many trees are you planning on planting Tim? Varieties? I am doing the same overanalysis and hoping to get the orchard and the hops in this Spring.
  6. timfromohio

    timfromohio Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2007
    Messages:
    520
    The "mini-orchard" plan is to have four apple trees (PinkLady, Fuji, HoneyCrisp, and one other with Pippin in the title - can't remember), one or two cherry trees (considering the one that has multiple varieties grafted onto it), two pear trees, two peach trees, two plum trees, and perhaps try one of the "hairless" kiwi trees, although this one might become friends with our Meyer Lemon tree that comes inside during the winter. So around a dozen trees.

    Also, a friend from church suggested if I get bareroot trees I plant them temporarily in large buckets with good soil in order to (1) get a good root ball going and (2) to have the ability to bring them in should we get a really late frost or big storm roll through.
  7. gparzych

    gparzych New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2012
    Messages:
    14
    Loc:
    CT
    M7 is a very common semidwarf rootstock, resistant to fireblight, which you could get in ohio, and it would probably come from wild hosts around the area. for the first 3-5 years, grow wood, not fruit...you want to get the tree established (and establish the roots) without a lot of energy going toward bearing fruit. You can FORCE a tree to fruit the second year by tying limbs down past horizontal, but if you get a nice sturdy tree established, you can start getting fruit in 3 or 4 years and set yourself up for 30 years of nice fresh apples. Your pears will have about the same lifespan, but the cherries, peaches, adn plums will have about half that...you might want to think about that when you're planning your planting.

    I'm new around here but as far as I can tell, the main purpose of hearth.com is indulging in overanalysis of all kinds of subjects!
  8. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2009
    Messages:
    2,026
    Loc:
    The island of Rhum Boogie
    I've got a dozen trees in the ground and plans for a dozen more. I've got one peach tree that grows like a weed (sandy hill in full sun) up against the house and the rest after 1-2 years in the ground/pots are doing a whole lot of nothing. I wasn't planning on fruit for the first 5 years but its not looking good as far as what I can expect. The ground is pretty wet. I'm going to try whatever and whatever sticks will have to do. Might try some hops, switch to rasberries/blackberries.
  9. timfromohio

    timfromohio Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2007
    Messages:
    520
    Gparzych - thanks for the advice. I'll probably go with the semi-dwarf based on this discussion. Regarding overanalyzing - here (on this forum) we actually discuss the pros/cons of north-south/east-west loading!!! That's getting down to the details. You'll fit right in if you don't mind that sort of thing. Thanks again.

    btuser - we have blackberries and red raspberries going already and they are great. My advice there, at least with the raspberries, is to get a few different varieites that fruit at different times. I picked out three varieties and one of them has done really well, the other so-so, and the third I replanted with the one that did great. I think I got my brambles from Norse Farms.
  10. fossil

    fossil Accidental Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2007
    Messages:
    10,378
    Loc:
    Bend, OR
    Didn't take you long to figure out what we seem to be all about a significant portion of the time. :lol: Welcome to the forums! Rick
  11. eclecticcottage

    eclecticcottage Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2011
    Messages:
    1,699
    Loc:
    WNY
    Peaches? Do you happen to grow the "donut" variety? That's what they're referred to locally, I think they're also called saucer peaches. Looking for feedback on growing those...

    We're looking to plant in some fruit trees this sping also. Found a local nursery that sells bare root. I'm still deciding on varieties-I know we're going for bosc pears and probably honeycrisp apples. I'm not messing with the soil, we have orchards all around here us-if it's good enough for them, it's good enough for us!
  12. timfromohio

    timfromohio Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2007
    Messages:
    520
    eclecticcottage - I'm assuming that wny is western New York. Whereabouts? You might be close to Miller Nurseries and could actually go there to pick out your trees in person.
  13. eclecticcottage

    eclecticcottage Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2011
    Messages:
    1,699
    Loc:
    WNY
    Oooo, sweet! Canandaigua is about an 1 1/2-2 hour drive from us, but the nursery I found (Turnbull) doing bare root doesn't have the donut peaches. Looking at the prices I'm glad our soil and water conservation district in our county does a tree and seedling program! Bare root seedlings, but I can get 50 Serviceberry for $39.
  14. benjamin

    benjamin Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2009
    Messages:
    695
    Loc:
    SW WI
    I'll disagree with that advice on both counts, anytime you move them they get set back. Plant them as soon as you can after they arrive, if the weather won't allow, then heel them in temporarily until you can plant them right. They don't mind a late frost, except the blossoms of course.

    I'd look at this place http://www.sln.potsdam.ny.us/ Their advice is a little unconventional, but it mirrors my experience. That is, standard trees are more vigorous, and if dwarf trees aren't given good care (bare ground!) they will languish and not produce any sooner than semi dwarf or even standard trees.
  15. timfromohio

    timfromohio Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2007
    Messages:
    520
    benjamin - thanks for the input. Between more reading and this thread I've decided against the dwarf trees. Due to space considerations I'll go with semi-dwarf. Regarding heeling them - I read about this also but it's not clear to me if the trees start to generate roots during this process? Also, my soil is terrible - very high clay content. I've read that I should (1) plant in soil as close as possible to what the tree roots will encounter and also (2) to heavily ammend the very large planting hole - which route to take?

    thanks again for all of the input!
  16. timfromohio

    timfromohio Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2007
    Messages:
    520
    ps - the prices of the trees at sln are much better than stark and they have way more information about the tree lineage which I like. I might be ordering from them instead. Thanks!
  17. benjamin

    benjamin Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2009
    Messages:
    695
    Loc:
    SW WI
    They shouldn't generate any roots while heeled in, you only do this if the intended planting spot is frozen or under water, and if it's still underwater when the trees are breaking dormancy then you should have picked a different spot.

    Can't help much on the second question, I have a decent clay loam, but some of my trees went where there was a cow path, so excellent fertile soil on top of a terribly compacted layer, those didn't grow as well as the ones planted in more uniform soil, so I'm inclined not to amend.

    Another thing to consider is building a slight mound to plant the tree into if you have flat poorly drained soil, just enough that the root crown stays out of waterlogged soil.
  18. gparzych

    gparzych New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2012
    Messages:
    14
    Loc:
    CT
    I second the disagreement. Frost will not hurt newly planted trees for the most part. They shouldn't have any tender new growth right away and the roots (buried in soil) won't freeze at all. New plantings bloom late so you should be clear of frost, but if you do get a frost during bloom it doesn't matter b/c you're not looking for a crop anyways. The way to get a good root system is to plant the tree and let it grow! I have trees in heavy clay soils...as long as you don't have water saturated soil you should be fine. Trees like water but they don't like constantly wet feet (some rootstocks will fare better than others). If there isn't standing water when you dig your hole, its not too wet.
  19. eclecticcottage

    eclecticcottage Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2011
    Messages:
    1,699
    Loc:
    WNY
    Every bare root we've ever gotten looks basically like a twig with roots. No new shoots or anything.
  20. osagebow

    osagebow Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2012
    Messages:
    1,395
    Loc:
    Shenandoah Valley, VA
    While the trees are young, you might consider grafting to make a single tree with a few different varieties on it that can cross pollinate one another. It's an easy, fun way to increase yield and variety in a limited space I have a 8 year old single summer rambo tree with branches containing yellow delicious, stayman and granny smith that produced a phenomenal crop of last year. Have a pear with bartlett and a variety I cannot recall that is just starting to produce. Worked up 2 young tartarian / bing cherries last year and gave one away. In all, 3 trees will soon = 3 crops.
  21. timfromohio

    timfromohio Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2007
    Messages:
    520
    Thanks for all of the continued advice. I'll continue my line of questions if I may - deer. I was planning on putting small sections of fence around each tree I plant (plus one of those wraps to protect them from rodents) when I first set them out to buy me some time while I consider if I fence the whole of my back yard. I fenced in my in-ground garden area and berry patch with a combo of "rabbit-proof" fence and electric line - I baited the electric lines when I first put them out with peanut butter and know that the deer have gotten a few good zaps in the mouth. It has proven effective thus far. Does my plan on localized protection for the trees sound sufficient? I live in NEOhio - we have an overpopulation of large deer. I may also add a crossbow to my must-have list and just start eating them.
  22. benjamin

    benjamin Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2009
    Messages:
    695
    Loc:
    SW WI
    Deer and rabbits were a big problem for me until I got new neighbors who then got three large unruly intact male dogs that bark randomly throughout the night and take off and run through the neighborhood whenever they can. No more deer or rabbits for me, but I'm not in the woods or even that near to woods so I was a little surprised I had as many deer as I did before the dogs. They wouldn't visit often but if I didn't catch the first nipped leaves and spray repellent, the deer would be back and within the week they would be stripping bark and branches. I used an old mayo jar half full of water and mayo junk in the sun for a few weeks and sprayed on the leaves. It would work for a week or two.

    From what I've heard about animal psychology, deterrents (negative reinforcement) have to be consistent and varied, so the electric fence has to be up and hot all the time and it helps if there's some other deterrents thrown in. On the other hand positive reinforcement, a tasty snack of apple leaves, is actually more influential if it is somewhat random, so if a deer gets one taste it will "gamble" on trying again even more than if the leaves are always available.

    And if that's not
    over analyzing then I don't know what is.
  23. timfromohio

    timfromohio Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2007
    Messages:
    520
    I keep the electric fence on 24/7 around garden/berry patch and enjoy nailing the deer with pellets in the rear end whenever possible. However, if they continue to show up I'll happily transition from sending them away with a welt on the rear to a crossbow bolt allow me to further stock my freezers .... Disclaimer - I live in a township and it's legal for me to hunt on my own property.
  24. lukem

    lukem Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2010
    Messages:
    3,687
    Loc:
    Indiana
    My place is filthy with deer. They completely devour the lower branches on my apple trees. Apples, leaves, twigs....everything. If these weren't large mature trees they'd be long gone. They did the same thing to my blueberries...which I've since fenced off.

    I'm getting 6 more fruit trees this spring. My plan right now is to enclose them in wire using some old horse fence I have laying around. I'll make a 16" diameter circle and make them about 8' high...bury about a foot underground for stability...mulch around the tree and wire for weed control. Should be small enough they can't get their snout in there, but will still give plenty of room for air and light to get to the tree. When the tree is big enough I'll remove the wire.

    Since I got my dog they aren't as big of a problem, but not enough to trust $100 worth of new fruit trees to them.
  25. timfromohio

    timfromohio Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2007
    Messages:
    520
    lukem - your plan sounds similar to what I envisioned. The deer pruned my blueberry bushes for me as well before I added extra electric lines to the fencing around them. I despise them ...

    solarandwood - you did not reply about your orchard plans? What varieties and how many trees?

Share This Page