How to grow an orchard in your back garden – part 1

Always a sucker for a great deal, I recently spotted one hidden away amongst the daily Groupon email that I receive (and rarely get round to reading). It offered five fruit trees for an outstanding price. Wow, I thought, I could grow my own fruit. In my back garden! My children can eat freshly grown produce and I’ll never have to buy overpriced fruit at the supermarket again!

OK, so this may be setting my expectations a bit high, but we already have a small apple tree in the garden plus strawberry patch courtesy of our home’s previous owners, and we had lots of fruit last summer; we’d barely had to do anything other than add a bit of fertiliser down to encourage extra growth. Buoyed up by this success, I decided to go for it and purchased the trees – two apple trees, plus pear, cherry and plum trees too. Wow, just imagine our home-grown fruit salad!

Then I promptly forgot about it. Until a box of ‘live plants’ arrived on my doorstep. Tentatively opening the box, I found 5 little twig-like things, apparently ‘trees’. Well they will be once planted and have established themselves a bit according to the accompanying leaflet. Now I’m starting to panic – how can I possibly grow fruit trees? What was I thinking?? Just because I threw some compost onto an already established plant and it grew some more doesn’t make me horticulturist of the year. I once killed a cactus. I don’t know how so don’t ask, but I did.

Deciding that, having brought two healthy babies into this world, I surely would be able to plant a few little saplings in the garden without mishap. So we put the trees in a bucket, with their roots soaking in water to prevent them drying out, then we dug some holes in the garden. Toddler enjoyed helping us to dig with his little trowel before having a satisfying roll around in the mud, much to Mummy’s annoyance.

Where shall I dig next?

Where shall I dig next?

Once the holes were the right size, we chucked in some extra fertiliser stuff (yes, I know that’s very technical but this is the level of my expertise) and some compost, then a wooden stake to help support the tree, then the tree itself. Once planted, we made sure each tree had a good drink of water – apparently the main cause of tree failure is lack of water when planted.

We now have two trees in the ground, and three in pots for the patio! I’ll let you know how we get on, and if we actually get any fruit!

Our fruity twiglets!

Two of our fruity twiglets!