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  • -- Be sure to soak the whole area around the tree every week or so as the watering season begins. The roots need moisture as they emerge, and as they grow into the surrounding soil.

    -- Mulch conserves moisture. Spread it out any time, but take care that it is not piled up against the trunk.

    An exception about root systems and hole size: walnuts and pecans are tap-rooted trees. Hole needs to be two to three feet deep.

    Some special ways of growing and training fruit trees for those with limited space:

    Espaliering is training a tree flat against a fence or wall. It is simplest with types that have limber wood to bend and tie against the wall, such as apples and pears, but nearly any fruit species can be trained in a two-dimensional hedge-like shape to produce fruit in a narrow yard.

    Multi-graft or "fruit cocktail" trees are a novel approach to getting multiple types or varieties simply by budding them together onto one tree. This can make for complicated pruning, as tree branches rarely grow equally, and in the case of mixed species can lead to very strange-looking trees. I suggest instead planting the trees separately, but very close together. Such as ...

    Three in one hole, or high density planting. This is a simple and manageable way to get lots of fruit types into a small yard. Plant very close together, prune in summer for size control, and in winter to train the trees apart from each other. You can plant as close a few feet apart, or even plant three trees together in one large hole. With this technique you can have fruit ripening in different months all summer.

    Summer pruning . You can prune your fruit trees for size control after they finish fruiting. It's not complicated: you're just cutting off a fair bit of the new growth to keep the trees lower. Major structural pruning is still generally done in winter.

    It often amazes newcomers to the Valley how many types of fruit trees we can grow. It is possible, with planning, to have fruit from your backyard every month of the year. Most fruit trees are very drought tolerant once established and can be readily added to an existing landscape. Plant now for summer bounty!

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    © 2014 Don Shor, Redwood Barn Nursery, Inc., 1607 Fifth Street, Davis, Ca 95616
    Feel free to copy and distribute this article with attribution to this author.
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