In the past if you wanted an orchard you would need a lot of space. Traditional fruit trees require a lot of space, which is why you only found them in the gardens of big houses.
These days to establish an orchard all you need is a small piece of land. Here we tell you about some of the varieties that you can use to create a great orchard in a small space. You will find a range of fruit trees available online, so you can order the trees you need to create your orchard from the comfort of your own couch.
If you are extremely tight on space column or columnar trees are definitely the answer. As the name indicates these trees are extremely narrow. They have been bred to grow in a single stem. The fruit grows around that column producing something akin to a fruit tower.
If you buy the right varieties, you can plant them as little as two feet apart. Over the years, some of the most popular varieties have been engineered to grow in a column. This includes Cox’s and Bramley apples, Victoria and Czar Plumbs, Concorde pears, Sunburst Cherries, pear Williams, Conference pears and scrumptious apples.
If you prefer the look of traditional trees, you can choose to plant dwarf varieties instead. These trees were first bred for patios or conservatories. They produce branches like traditional trees, but do not grow as high. This means that their branches do not spread far. Most varieties only need to be planted about five feet apart.
You can buy all of the traditional fruits such as apples, pears and plums as dwarf trees. Dwarf varieties of more exotic fruits such as oranges, lemon, nectarines and peaches are also available. Both nectarines and peaches will happily grow in most south facing British gardens.
Other compact fruit trees
If neither of these options appeal to you consider buying Minarette varieties that are designed to grow up against a frame. Other varieties of fruit tree can be trained to grow in this way, but traditional fruit trees are slow growing so it can take a long time to train them into special compact shapes. For this reason, you are better off buying Minarette varieties or pre trained trees.
Plant in a circle
If you plan your orchard in a circle or other shape and leave space in the middle you can create a small oasis. It does not have to be a large space, just enough room for a couple of chairs and a table or a hammock.
In the spring, you can sit there and enjoy the smell of the blossom. During the summer, the air will be fragrant with the smell of fruit.
You can also use the space below the trees to plant other fruit. Most soft fruits will do well around the base of a column tree, which casts very little shadow. If you choose this option, remember to feed the trees and fruit plants every year.
Choose self-fertilising varieties
If you are creating a compact orchard, it is important to choose self-fertilising varieties. This means that you only need to buy one of each type of tree rather than two or three to allow cross fertilisation to take place, which saves a lot of space and allows you to grow more types of fruit.