If you love fruit but have never planted an orchard of your own due to space constraints, you might want to consider grafted fruit trees.
The Three Rivers Fruit Growers Club works to graft trees and has planted a permaculture fruit garden at the Purdue Extension Office on IPFW’s campus. This garden is an experimental concept of mixed fruit planted together with companion, or supporting, plants. In the forest, no one is actually lining up trees and planting them in a row and nobody tends them – they take care of themselves by their diversity. This garden is intended to mimic nature instead of overcoming it.
Folks with the Three Rivers Fruit Growers Club recommend dwarf trees because they’re easier to tend and prune and they still provide the same size of fruit. Varieties include apples, cherries, plums, elderberries, strawberries, and many others. The super dwarf apple, for example, will only grow to be about 3 feet tall at full maturity!
To maximize success and yield, consider planting your dwarf fruit trees with companion plants, like comfrey. This plant will fill out the under-story of your orchard, block weeds, and mine nutrition from the soil down to a depth of about 10 feet.
If you’re interested in planting grafted fruit trees in your orchard at home, you can find these plants online and in some local nurseries. You can also join the Three Rivers Fruit Growers Club for the opportunity to purchase dwarf trees and learn more about them.
For more planting methods and other pointers, check out the latest Home Horticulture Newsletter.
The Green Thumb airs on First News Weekend. Tune in for more tips!