Planting fruit trees is important work, even though it may just feel like a hobby to you.

In winter we sell fruit trees from the farm through our other business Carr’s Organic Fruit Tree Nursery. The days are full of conversations about people’s plans for their gardens, and their hopes and dreams for their fruit trees.

Setting people up for success when planting new fruit trees

We spent lots of time explaining different tree training systems and giving mini-pruning lessons. We talk about the merits of different fruit varieties and provide impromptu planting demos.

Katie explaining how to prune a young tree (Photo: Brendan McCarthy)
Katie explaining how to prune a young tree (Photo: Brendan McCarthy)

When people feel ready and armed with all the right info, we help them load up their trees and wave them off as they go home to get planting.

Heading home with the new babies
Heading home with the new babies

It’s a little like sending new parents home with their babies. We’re simultaneously delighted to see them start their journey together and slightly nervous about how they’ll manage, particularly if they’re first-time parents. We imagine midwives must feel the same when they send new families home from hospital.

Of course, trees and babies are completely different cases. Babies are the most precious thing in the world and must be kept alive at all costs. But it doesn’t really matter if a tree dies from neglect or mistreatment. It’s just a few bucks down the drain and you start again, right?

Strictly speaking of course that’s true, but actually, there’s a little more at stake.

Heading home with bags of new trees to plant in the garden.  (Photo: Brendan McCarthy)
Heading home with bags of new trees to plant in the garden. (Photo: Brendan McCarthy)

You see, we know something more…we know what it feels like to nurture a fruit tree all the way through to maturity and harvest, and it’s almost indescribably satisfying.

The fruit tree planting journey

It starts with planting it out in the right spot in the garden and giving it the first (terrifying) pruning.

Then you’re responsible for protecting it from pests that might damage it and making sure it has healthy soil and enough water.

You nervously watch it grow and then bloom. You become awed by the miracle of pollination and seeing fading flowers falling off to reveal tiny fruit.

Skipping with excitement about buying a new fruit tree.  (Photo: Brendan McCarthy)
Skipping with excitement about buying a new fruit tree. (Photo: Brendan McCarthy)

You protect the fruit from pests and diseases, and then … finally … harvest the most delicious fruit you’ve ever tasted in your life because you grew it yourself.

What happens after you plant your trees?

Over years the trees grow. With them, your skill level grows too. You become more confident that you can protect your precious crop against all the hazards and dangers that threaten it.

This is important work. You’re providing nutritious organic food for your family for the whole year, not just summer.

The family budget will almost certainly be better off.

And you’re giving your kids irreplaceable memories of picking fruit straight from the tree. You need to get results every year, not just the years you’re “lucky”.

Grow Great Fruit member Julie collecting her trees from the Nursery  (Photo: Brendan McCarthy)
Grow Great Fruit member Julie collecting her trees from the Nursery (Photo: Brendan McCarthy)

And when it works and you bring in the harvest, you feel on top of the world!

Becoming a backyard farmer

You’ve joined the ranks of one of the most important groups in society—the food providers. Those salt-of-the earth types who have the seemingly magical ability to coax delicious food from a little dirt, sunshine, and hard work. You’re a farmer.

We know all this because this has been our journey over the last 20 years. 

Yes, as with raising children, there’s pain along the way as you make mistakes and worry that things may wrong. We hope we’ve made that journey a little easier for you with our guide to How to Look After Fruit Trees in the First 3 Years.

But we also know the joy that lies ahead for you, and while admittedly it’s nowhere near as special as bringing a whole new human into the world, at least your fruit trees are not going to give you nearly as many sleepless nights!

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