Fresh fruit from your own garden – more and more hobby gardeners are discovering the advantages of healthy fruit from their own garden. But before the desire to have your own orchard can be implemented, certain criteria such as choice of location and crop rotation should be considered. With an optimal distribution of the available area, even garden owners who only own a small piece of land can grow numerous varieties and harvest fresh fruit every day, which enriches the menu with healthy food.

Orchard planning

When planning the orchard, the total area available plays a decisive role. In a spacious green area, it is often worth creating a separate orchard, while individual elements of fruit growing can also be easily integrated into a house garden or kitchen garden if there is a lack of space. Then the following aspects help to use the space optimally:

  • Grow fruit Space-saving varieties (spindle and bush trees, columnar or double columnar trees)
  • Housing currant bushes in borders
  • Housing strawberry bushes at the edges of flower beds
  • Cultivation of vines, apples or apricots on house walls or walls
  • Growing fruit in container plants (pear melon or physalis)
  • Border of the entire garden area with fruit trees (instead of a hedge)
  • Use trellis fruit as a partition between the vegetable bed and perennial bed

No matter how large the available area is, the fruit varieties should be planted in such a way that the greatest possible yield of light and sun is possible, from which all plants benefit. For example, tall fruit trees will be planted in the north, while berry bushes will be planted in the southern areas.

The planning of an orchard includes not only considerations for the optimal use of the open space, but also the choice of suitable types of fruit. Individual preferences play just as important a role as uncomplicated fruit cultivation and care. Every gardener should carefully consider in advance how much time he has available for the care of the green area and whether he has sufficient resources for regular fruit tree pruning or care of berry bushes, for example.

Location and soil requirements of an orchard

When planning an orchard, the first thing to consider is the site conditions; the selected open space should offer optimal lighting conditions so that the fruit can thrive well during the ripening period. There are sometimes striking differences in terms of the climatic requirements between the individual types of fruit. While only specially adapted varieties can be used in cold and higher regions, varieties that come from warmer areas – such as nectarines, apricots or peaches – only thrive in sunny and sheltered locations.

Depending on the type of fruit used, the demands on the soil are quite different. Basically, however, a nutrient-rich soil with a high proportion of humus is to be preferred; the substrate should always be kept loose and free of weeds. If, on the other hand, the soil is very stony and solid, a large plant pit should be dug into which a well-drained and nutrient-rich soil mixture is filled. This measure makes it much easier for fruit trees to grow in. On the other hand, if the subsoil is very sandy and light, it can be improved with humus. With regard to the nutrient requirements, the substrate should be checked regularly every few years. In principle, it has proven supplying the earth twice a year with rotted manure or compost. Installing drainage can help to prevent waterlogging.

choice of fruits

There are basically three different variants that can be cultivated in the home garden:

  • Stone fruit
  • pome fruit
  • soft fruit

When choosing pome fruit, for example apple or pear trees, regional conditions should be taken into account. When growing fruit trees of a single species – for example apple trees – it is important to ensure that they pollinate each other. If only one specimen is planted, it must be able to fertilize itself. The distance between the individual trees should always be chosen so that each individual specimen receives sufficient light. If a large area is available, different varieties can be planted.

The yellow-green clear apple, which cannot be stored and must be processed immediately, is suitable as a summer apple. On the other hand, the firm Boskoop, a classic winter apple with a sweet and sour aroma, can be kept until spring. Among the pear varieties, the “Clapps Liebling” (early harvest, little storage capacity) and “Abate Fetel” varieties, a variety that only ripens in October and November and can only be grown in sheltered locations, are particularly popular. Smaller trees in particular can be accommodated well at the edge of the orchard.

Early and late varieties are also available for stone fruit. Among the cherries, the “Red May Cherry”, which has an aromatic taste, can be harvested as early as May, while the “Sylvia” variety only develops its full aroma in midsummer. In late summer or autumn, the house plum can then also be harvested. The cherry-sized mirabelle plums taste particularly mild, have a sugar-sweet taste and are versatile. Mirabelles are best grown in sheltered areas of the park and are not suitable for very cool locations. Also popular among hobby gardeners is the noble plum, which produces very large, black-blue fruits and tastes sweet and tart.

Note: When laying out the garden, care should be taken to ensure that stone fruit trees alternate with pome fruit plants.

Berries are particularly healthy. Different types are available here:

Berries that grow as shrubs – for example currants, blackberries and raspberries – can be planted sensibly at the garden border; there the plants form a hedge over time, which optimally delimits the property. Strawberry plants can be integrated into the edge of beds in a particularly space-saving manner. In the case of berries in particular, it has proven useful to combine early and late varieties. – In this way, the orchard provides fresh fruit every day for a long period of time.

Soil maintenance in the orchard

When cultivating an orchard, soil care begins as early as spring. At this point in time, the fruit trees are fertilized, provided they have not already been supplied with half-ripe or ripe compost in the autumn. Regular ground chores of the orchard include regular weeding; in particular, the ground under the bushes and the tree grates must always be freed from green plants. Regular mulching with straw, grass clippings or semi-rotted compost can be worthwhile to make such work easier. In addition, a mulch layer provides effective soil protection, both during the hot summer months and in the cold season.

Soil moisture also plays an important role in the yield of fruit plants. On hot days in particular, this should be checked and watered if necessary. However, waterlogging must be avoided at all costs! A drainage system in the ground can help prevent standing water.

Targeted pruning of fruit trees

Regular pruning of fruit trees is one of the most important jobs that should be done within the orchard. Targeted pruning offers several advantages:

  • Maintaining the productivity and extending the lifespan of the plant
  • Earlier start of earnings
  • Avoiding crop fluctuations
  • Improved fruit quality thanks to better exposure to lower-lying shoots
  • Promotion of a stable support structure for a high fruit yield

In principle, an educational cut, a rejuvenation cut and a maintenance cut are all possible. Above all, branches that grow inward should be cut, as they obstruct other branches and produce little or no fruit. The formation of branch forks should be avoided, since rainwater forms in this area and rotting processes are promoted. If branches and twigs grow parallel to each other, one of the two should be cut so that they do not take away the light from each other. Crossing branches should also be removed to prevent mutual injury from rubbing against each other.

When pruning fruit trees, branches or twigs infected with diseases and pests should also be checked regularly.

Note: If a bark disease is present, you must cut up to 30 cm deep into the wood for complete control!

In addition, the correct pruning time must also be observed: Stone fruit, for example, may only be pruned when the plant is forming foliage, while pip fruit can be pruned all year round, provided it is not too cold. Cherries are pruned either during or after harvest, while re-pruning of all rejuvenated trees occurs in July. Espaliers, spindles and young trees are preferably pruned from July to mid-August.

Pruning of berry bushes

With a targeted pruning until mid-March, you can increase the yield of berry bushes in June. For cutting, either an appointment directly after the harvest or in winter is possible. Winter pruning is particularly advantageous because the leafless shrubs offer a better overview at this time.

At the beginning of the pruning measures, all branches that are at the bottom of the bush or that broke off during the harvest are first removed. Then branches in the lower fourth of the bush are cut off completely. If the plants are old, one or two thick main branches that are close to the ground are cut off completely.

This measure stimulates the shrub to produce more new shoots, which in turn initiates a rejuvenation process in the plant. Overall, a maximum of 40 percent of the branches and twigs should be removed when cutting the shrubs. With the pruning measures, sticks can also be obtained; these are cut from the cut young shoots, which are about 20 centimeters long and pencil-thick. If these are already planted in the ground at the time of winter pruning, they will drive new roots in spring.

diseases and pests

Chemical pesticides affect the quality of the harvested fruit. For this reason, it has proven to be useful to keep the infestation of pests low in advance; this works best with the targeted use of beneficial insects. The main animal species include:

  • birds
  • ladybug
  • centipede
  • bees and wasps

The most important pests include aphids, which attack almost all fruit plants, with raspberries, currants, raspberries and plums being particularly badly affected. Clay flower pots filled with wood shavings can be placed in the garden for destruction; such constructions provide suitable shelters for centipedes and ladybirds, which have proven to be natural enemies of aphids.

Special fruit maggot traps should be installed in various fruit trees before they blossom, for example in plum trees, apple trees and cherry trees. In autumn, various glue rings should also be used here to ward off pests. The hanging up of nesting boxes and the targeted feeding of wild birds in winter are particularly effective in order to bind the beneficial insects to the garden. Setting up a bird bath has also proven itself in this context. In order to ward off diseases in advance, it makes sense to spray the plants with different plant manure; this measure gives the fruit trees effective protection.

Well laid out and optimally cared for, the classic orchard offers every hobby gardener the opportunity to grow fresh fruit themselves. Regular care and targeted pruning measures can increase the yield and provide the owners of the garden with healthy fruit for many years.

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