Sunday, 22 January 2017

GARDENING: Turn Your Balcony Into a Paradise With These Potted Trees


by ARIANA MARISOL
Turn your city rooftop or balcony into an edible paradise by adding a beautiful array of potted fruit trees.
As long as they are grown on a dwarfing rootstock, fruit trees can flourish in pots. You can ask a specialist supplier for advice on selecting the correct tree type for your balcony. Be sure to always check to see if you need more than one tree to ensure good pollination. Cherry trees, apricots, and peaches are self-fertile, meaning they will fruit on their own without needing a second tree. Other trees such as apples, and pears, need a partner to ensure pollination.

ApplesApple trees are the quintessential orchard fruit and they can be grown as a bush on dwarfing rootstock or as an espalier, U-shaped cordon, or double U. You can grow many varieties of apple including Gala, Fuji, and Honeycrisp, all of which will pollinate one another.

PearsPear trees normally flower early and their crop can be damaged by late frosts. It is a good idea to cover the branches with fleece if they blossom during a frost. Pears can also be grown as a bush on dwarfing rootstock or as a cordon, espalier, U-shaped cordon, or double U. Some taste varieties include Bartlett, Moonglow, and Doyenne du Comice.

CherriesYou will only need one cherry tree to ensure fruiting. If you find that you are having a bird problem, use netting to keep the birds away as the fruit ripens. You can expect beautiful blossoms and lots of tasty fruit once the tree is established. You can grow the tree as a bush on dwarfing rootstock or you can grow it against a warm wall. Morello and acid cherries thrive next to shady north-facing walls. You can also grow other tasty varieties such as Lapins and Stella.

PlumsThese trees are very sturdy and deliver heavy crops. Plum trees are self-fertile and only need minimal pruning during the summer. It is a good idea to thin out developing fruits so that the tree will continue to produce fruit each year. You should thin plums during the midsummer so they are about 2 inches apart.

FigsPotted fig trees can act as sprawling fan-trained patio beautifiers. Figs prefer to have their roots confined and are therefore easy to train into fan shapes if you tie the branches against a warm wall.

If you live in a cooler climate, protect the baby fruit by tying sleeves of plastic bubble wrap loosely around them. Be sure to leave the sleeves open ended in order to allow air to circulate. Fruit larger than the size of a pea should be removed in the fall. Be sure to pinch out the growing shoots of the tree in early summer so that only five leaves remain per shoot.

Plant your tree in soilless potting mix or soil-based mix in a pot larger than 18 inches in diameter. Place the tree in a sunny, sheltered area, and keep it well watered. You can feed your tree liquid seaweed every two weeks throughout growing season.

Peaches and ApricotsBonanza is a tasty dwarf peach variety, and Pixzee or Pixie-cot is a great apricot variety. They both can be grown as freestanding trees in pots or they can be grown as fans.

Dormant during the winter, peaches and apricots are hardy fruit trees that blossom in the early spring. Due to this, the flowers can be susceptible to frost damage. If you live in cooler winter climates, bring the tree inside when it is in blossom during a frost. You can also cover it with horticultural fleece it has been trained against a wall. Even though the two trees can self-pollinate, they will benefit from a little bit of help with pollination. Dab pollen gently with a soft brush and rub it onto the surrounding flower when it is open.

Calamondin orangeCalamondin orange trees produce beautifully scented flowers that develop into small, round fruits that are too sour to eat raw. You can use the fruit to create marmalade or for cooking. Calamondin oranges are the only citrus that can be overwintered indoors. They can even be grown inside all year.

Ariana Marisol is a contributing staff writer for REALfarmacy.com. She is an avid nature enthusiast, gardener, photographer, writer, hiker, dreamer, and lover of all things sustainable, wild, and free. Ariana strives to bring people closer to their true source, Mother Nature. She is currently finishing her last year at The Evergreen State College getting her undergraduate degree in Sustainable Design and Environmental Science. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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