Dave Wilson Nursery FORUMS - Fruit, Nut and Ornamental Trees  

Go Back   Dave Wilson Nursery FORUMS - Fruit, Nut and Ornamental Trees > Home Fruit & Nut Growing > Backyard Orchard Culture

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
  #1  
Old 02-26-2011, 10:12 AM
Craig Craig is offline
Dave Wilson Nursery
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Turlock and Hickman, CA
Posts: 41
Default Is close-planting fruit trees really a good idea?

Article here questioning the wisdom of planting fruit trees close together.

Thoughts, FAQ-style:

Are fruit trees planted close together healthy? With proper soil moisture, nutrients and air circulation (maintenance) they can be as healthy, productive and long-lived as any.

Are fruit trees planted close together more difficult to prune? No, if you keep up with your summer pruning they are easier. For the home grower, big trees are more difficult to prune – by far. So are big trees more difficult to thin, spray and harvest.

Is espalier easier or better than three or four trees in one hole? It depends. Espalier is similar to multi-planting: keep ‘em pruned to a desired size and shape. And espalier is different: wider spacing allows more vigor, e.g. for slower-growing varieties of apple and pear. Certainly, espalier is recommended for "flat" spaces next to buildings, walls and fences.

Why multi-plant fruit trees? To have enough varieties with different ripening times that you have usable quantities of fruit all season long - from a small space. If you have the space and want larger crops, then, of course, you grow larger trees at wider spacings.

Comments?

Craig
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 02-26-2011, 07:17 PM
fruitnut fruitnut is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Alpine TX
Posts: 641
Default My experience at high density

Craig:

The DWN take on this seems to be several trees in one hole. I'm planting all kinds of stone fruit in my greenhouse at spacings as small as 2ft by 8ft and know others doing about the same. I don't know any experienced growers clumping the trees together. So Craig, why is clumping the trees together better than a uniform spacing at the same density? Are you thinking that clumping them together causes more root competition thereby reducing tree size?

Another issue is that regular pruning will hold down the tree size. But if the site is overly vigorous, I'm still concerned that high density plantings will be hard to manage.

I'm not aware if your instructions on BYOC address renewal pruning. To me that's the hardest part of managing these dense plantings. After only two crops I've found the spurs on Cot-N-Candy dying and the fruiting wood has moved 2-3ft higher in the tree. I'd really appreciate your input on this topic.

Thank you!

Last edited by fruitnut; 02-27-2011 at 06:18 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 02-27-2011, 04:06 PM
Administrator Administrator is offline
Administrator
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 174
Default

For people who have available only spots here and there in the yard, several varieties in one hole can be the best option for stretching their harvest season. Another advantage to three and four trees in one hole (vs. hedgerow) can be the grouping of like spray requirements - which isn't always a factor.

More space available to devote to fruit trees, hence more planting options, is probably the case for the great majority of home trees planted, but not necessarily the great majority of prospective home growers. With space available, and wanting high density, I would plant hedgerows at two- to four-foot spacings, depending on quantities wanted and soil fertility. I reckon hedgerow is how most BOC trees are planted.

The DWN recommendations have perhaps seemed to address the not-much-space-available customer more than others. Backyard Orchard Culture was developed to encourage people to grow fruit trees according to their situation, which would usually mean trees closer together in the backyard than in the commercial orchard. How close? As close as you want if you prune them accordingly. And so, to make the point, one of the key examples of BOC is the extreme of three or four trees in one hole.

The original BOC paper (thank you, Ed Laivo) had hand-drawn diagrams of spacing suggestions which are still on the DWN website. The hedgerow shown there is a 3' x 9' planting. When I first started traveling the western states selling DWN trees in the early '80's (pre-BOC) I planted about 100 stone fruit varieties in my yard: two hedgerows at about two-foot spacing, the rows about 9 ft. apart. Most of them I grew just long enough to fruit and evaluate. But over 20 years later several apricots at 18-24" spacing were still giving lots of nice fruit every year. They were never especially well tended, but were easily kept low and productive by removing all growth above about 7 1/2 feet and selectively below that height once per year in the summer (missing some years). The fruiting wood began at about 3 to 3 1/2 feet, but was mostly at 4 to 7 ft.

My greatest concern in BOC promotion is that folks new to growing fruit trees who plant high density will let the summer pruning get away from them in the first few years and will become discouraged. Someone who is in their yard frequently and tracks their trees' growth will likely do fine; someone who tends to be busy elsewhere might not.

Fruitnut, I know you could keep four trees in one hole size-controlled and productive if you had a reason to. Someone with only a spot or two in the yard (and knows how good tree-ripe fresh fruit can be) has that reason. If they like to garden and tend their plants it's easy: remove the new growth that doesn't fit the plan.

I'm not familiar with Cot-N-Candy - I'll see what I can find out.

We expect to be adding content to the website this year and next. Renewal pruning should be included. Entire-tree renewal is treated in a DWN article here.

Craig
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 02-27-2011, 04:31 PM
fruitnut fruitnut is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Alpine TX
Posts: 641
Default

Thank you Craig. Cot-N-Candy is the worst I've seen for losing the lower spurs. And these are receiving plenty of light on the lower spurs. When the spurs lose their vegetative growth they cease to flower and fruit. So I'm faced with cutting back those limbs after the third crop which I'll do after harvest this year.

On most of the other Zaiger stone fruit the lower spurs, if well illuminated, don't die but do get pretty long after 4-5 years. I've been cutting here and there removing major limbs to try to stimulate regrowth from down low. Sometimes there is no regrowth as low as I'd like.

I guess the 3-4 trees in a hole is what sticks in my mind but as Ed's drawing shows he was dialed in on all types of spacing and arrangement. Several trees in a hole is indeed a good option in some cases.

I do think DWN has been a major force in helping people understand that dense plantings are doable.

Thanks for the help!
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 03-15-2011, 07:32 PM
cebury cebury is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 109
Default

Really good question on the renewal pruning for closely planted. And your Cot-n-Candy has a good situation, where it is receiving lots of light. I'll clearly be in the same boat over the next few years with some of my trees.

The mistake I think is easy to make with BYOC and MTOH which is NOT stressed (or even stated) on the DWN page is one I tended to make: ensuring light availability for the non-shared sides. Or if you plant up against a 6' fence, don't expect much growth in the lower limbs, even after initial establishment. IMHO this is probably the biggest factor (limitation) on how many trees, what arrangement, and in what location to use the MTOH method.

This is common sense for seasoned growers, but there are lots of beginners who read that page thoroughly and adopt the practice without careful consideration of the typical sub/urban "backyard" obstacles.

Thanks for the update Craig. I look forward to the new updates.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 03-26-2011, 08:07 AM
penny penny is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: new york city
Posts: 8
Default 5n1 trees

hello, im new here , i just joined and i have NO experience in planting at all! lol , but because of the economy i want to use my back yard to plant a back yard orchard. i found a site that has 5n1 trees (directgardeningdotcom item no. 6123, 5n1 apple) they say the trees get 8 to 10 feet high and need to be placed 10 feet apart.
Can i prune these trees down to a smaller height and put them 2 feet apart if i want and still get fruit? also, being a 6b zone will i have a problem getting fruit? i want to plant a cherry tree too, can that also be pruned down to what ever height? sorry to sound ignorant, but im eager to learn! thanks!
penny
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 03-26-2011, 10:11 AM
penny penny is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: new york city
Posts: 8
Default

in one of your videos you plant 3 tress in one hole, saying there is "no cross pollinating issues" i dont understand what thats means (im new to this).
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 03-27-2011, 11:46 PM
rasputinj rasputinj is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 70
Default

Penny you can plant most any tree at 2ft, normally you are looking for semi dwarf trees. I like 2 in 1 trees, 5 in 1 is but overkill and expensive. You have to make sure you can get a good shape with that many types of fruit. You would be better off with 3 trees in one hole, plus if you have a problem with 1 tree you still have 2 left. No cross pollination problems would be for either plums, apples, pears where you need pollen from tree A to cross with tree B to get fruit. An example of this would be Anna apple and Golden Dorset apple. The 3 in 1 hole helps with it if you put trees together that need cross pollination and will cross polinate each other. Put down what you are interested in and we can help you with it.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 03-29-2011, 05:13 PM
penny penny is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: new york city
Posts: 8
Talking

wow, thank you rasputin
i have two 4 by 9 ft plots and one 8 by 40 ft plot. I ordered 9 trees: 2 plum, 3 peach, 2 pear, 1 cherry and 1 apple, all dwarfs. For someone who has NEVER planted a thing in my life im taking on a big encounter! lol. Ive been watching the dave wilson videos and am trying to learn.
Im particularly worried about keeping those little white worms of of the cherries ,(my neighbor has that problem) and any other bug problems i may incounter with the other fruit trees. Theyre all whips so ive got a while to worry, i guess. I saw on the dave wilson video on blueberries that he uses "dr earth" products so i order those and am waiting for everything to arrive (trees and all) about the 3rd of april. Im a little nervous , but i hope everything will work out ok. Im going to dig the 1x1 foot holes this week and do the drainge test (I know to build a mound if the drainage is not good.
all the dwarfs are said to get 8 to 10 feet high according to the site i order them from and the woman told me to plant them just as far apart but i dont want to do that. The cherry tree is a semi dwarf and is supposed to get 12 to 15 ft and i was told to keep other trees 15 ft away from it according to that site as well. But i trust you guys and with your help i may just be able to pull this off! thanks!
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 03-29-2011, 09:04 PM
rasputinj rasputinj is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 70
Default

Penny congrats do not worry about if the trees could get to 8-10 feet, just keep them around 6-7 high and as wide as you want it. In my opinion I prune peaches and plums with open centers kind of like a vase. Pears and apple I set with a central leader. I guess I also prune cherries like an open center vase. If you look at the Dave Wilson videos, they should show you enough to begin with. Are your cherry and apple self fertile? Were they in 5 gallon containers, if so most should produce next year depending on the variety. What exact types of plums,peaches,cherries,apples did you get. Also where are you located. I started with 5 trees, then went to 10,17,26,35,44, and finally have 56 with trees as close to 4 feet. My fruit tree partner in crime has 5 areas with 3 in 1 hole all about 1 foot separation, they have done well. At least for in So Cal the ability to grow blueberries is something I never thought could do. Fruit trees and bush fruit can be addicting and very tasty.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -7. The time now is 04:53 AM.


Copyright 2014 Dave Wilson Nursery, Inc.