While growing stone fruit in your home garden can be a challenge, the reward of picking and eating your own freshly grown nectarines, apricots or peaches is worth the effort. These simple guidelines for planting, maintaining and pruning stone fruit trees will help you turn your backyard into a stone fruit sanctuary in no time.
Warm climate areas
Full sun exposure, good drainage and room to grow are essential elements in the success of growing fruit trees. While the fruit is developing be sure to fertilise regularly and top up the water through the dry spells. If you’re in a high humidity area your stone fruit are prone to fungal disease; to reduce the risk spray your tree before it comes into leaf with fungicide.
Cool climate areas
In contrast, if your stone fruit tree will be exposed to the winter chill without frost, new low-chill varieties are available. You can reduce set-back by planting your stone fruit trees in winter as the trees are dormant and are cheaper to purchase bare-rooted.
Draw and map out your garden to scale, keeping in mind how wide each fruit tree will grow to ensure enough airflow will surround each tree. Placing trees away from strong winds and on the northern side of a solid structure will help utilise the warmer ‘microclimate’ of the garden.
Self-fertilising trees such as nectarine trees, peach trees and apricot trees are great for your garden if you don’t want another tree to help pollinate the flowers to produce fruit. Cross-pollination trees such as apple trees, pear trees — with cherry trees and plum trees being the most fussy — need a compatible variety to help pollination.
Pruning fruit trees
The safest time to prune is when the weather is still dry and you’ve picked the crop, as it will help restrict growth. During winter it’s best to prune after the leaves have dropped, helping you in the easy removal of suckers, dead wood and broken or crossing branches.It’s important to have sharp shears while pruning to ensure clean cuts, or use a pruning saw on thicker branches. Dip your shears into a solution of isopropyl alcohol regularly to sterilise and reduce the spread of disease while true pruning your trees.
How to prune fruit trees:
By following these simple steps you’ll be growing delicious stone fruit in no time. The next challenge will be to keep those pesky possums away from your bountiful crop of fruit, but that’s another story.