2. Go With Dwarfs
If you don’t want to wait several years to get fruit from your garden, consider planting dwarf varieties of your favorite trees. Dwarfs don’t grow as tall or as wide as a full-size tree so they begin to bear fruit within the first two to three years. These smaller trees also don’t require as much space, making them perfect for gardeners who want to grow their own fruit but don’t have a lot of land. Also, for the casual gardener, dwarf varieties are often the better choice because their shorter height makes them easier to prune, harvest, and treat for pests.
3. Prune As Needed
Fruit trees ideally need to be trained in their first few years of growth into the shape you want them to maintain throughout their productive lives. Pruning should be done at the end of winter, before the tree comes out of dormancy. If you see leaf buds beginning to green up and soften, the tree is awake and it’s too late to safely prune. Some basic tips for shaping your fruit trees through pruning include:
- Maintain a strong central shoot or trunk with evenly-spaced side branches. Avoid over-crowding – branches that receive little or no sunlight will produce less fruit.
- When removing branches, cut close to the trunk or limb. Leave the collar and avoid damaging bark near the cut.
- Use very sharp shears to promote faster healing. Avoid snapping or tearing off any part of a tree as this can lead to parasitic infections and disease.
- Prune within 1/4” of healthy bud encourage new growth and avoid excessive dead ‘stubs.’
- Remove root suckers and water sprouts as soon as you see them.