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It’s that time of year again. Your thoughts are turning to planting some new fruit trees, right?

So much choice…

Choosing the right variety is exciting. But at the same time, it always seems to be a challenge, both for first-timers and experienced gardeners.

It’s understandable because you’re usually choosing between varieties you’re not really familiar with.

You’re probably not sure of when they’ll ripen. You don’t know if they’ll suit your climate. There’s the risk they might ripen at the same time as a similar fruit you already have in the garden, causing a glut you don’t need.

You’re not even sure if you’ll like them.

Merv and granddaughter Lucy planting trees in a new orchard on the farm
Merv and his granddaughter Lucy planting trees in a new orchard on the farm

What are you aiming for?

We reckon the key to food security from your own backyard comes from growing a steady supply of fruit over the whole growing season.

Try to avoid having periods of glut and scarcity. Instead, aim to extend the harvest period as long as possible. It’s also a good idea to aim for as big a variety of fruit as possible.

Truth is, you probably won’t plant the right fruit trees at the beginning.

Gorgeous white-flesh heritage Fragar peaches
Gorgeous white-flesh heritage Fragar peaches

This is one of the reasons that fruit tree gardens are such a pleasure. Each autumn you get to review how your fruit trees did last summer. Did you get enough – and the right types – of fruit?

Then you can make new decisions to keep improving your garden every year.

It’s a constant work in progress and an endless source of delight. It’s easy to see why it becomes a life-long passion for lots of people.

Hugh checking the quality of the nectarine crop
Hugh checking the quality of the nectarine crop

How to do a garden review

An easy way to think about your garden review is to ask yourself a few questions:

  1. How many months did you have fresh fruit available?
  2. Did you have glut periods where you had more fruit than you needed?
  3. Did you go through periods where you had to buy fruit because there was none ready in the garden?
  4.  Are you growing all your favourites?

Your answers will give you a great starting point for making some choices when selecting new trees.

Having identified any gaps in your current fruit supply, look for varieties that will fill them. You might need varieties that will extend your season or ripen at the times when you are having to buy fruit. It’s useful to have a list of potential fruit (and nut) types at your fingertips when you’re going through this process.

If your answer to #4 was ‘no’, then you definitely should be aiming to add your favourite fruit types and varieties.

Planting a peach tree
Planting a peach tree

Remember that different types of fruit trees need different conditions. It’s important to consider frost, chill factor, and tree placement when you’re deciding where new trees will be happiest.

And remember, if your climate doesn’t quite suit the ‘favourites’ that you’d like to plant, you might have to do some clever thinking about creating microclimates.

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