How to get started with pot­ted fruit

Gardeners' World - - Monty’s Garden -

Fruit trees are gen­er­ally best planted dur­ing their dor­mant pe­riod – be­tween late au­tumn and early spring – but dwarf fruit are of­ten sup­plied con­tainer-grown, which can be planted at any time in the year. Plant­ing in the sum­mer sim­ply means they’ll need plenty of wa­ter to get es­tab­lished. Choos­ing the right com­post mix for pot-grown tree fruits is one of the ma­jor keys to suc­cess. Good drainage is al­ways im­por­tant as wa­ter­log­ging will do more harm than oc­ca­sional drought, and some plants need bet­ter drainage than oth­ers. All peaches, nec­tarines, apri­cots and cit­rus like very sharp drainage, but they also need plenty of wa­ter and good­ness in the com­post. I rec­om­mend mak­ing a mix of one-third sieved gar­den com­post, one-third grit and one-third bark-based pot­ting com­post. John Innes No. 3 or a peat-free, multi-pur­pose com­post will suf­fice for gar­den com­post. For ap­ples, plums, wal­nuts and mul­ber­ries, I re­duce the grit to a quar­ter by vol­ume and make up the dif­fer­ence with the pot­ting com­post. For the blue­ber­ries, sub­sti­tute the nor­mal bark-based pot­ting part with pine-bark com­post, and if you have leaf­mould, add that in, too. Leave at least an inch clear be­low the rim of the pot so you can soak the pot well and also mulch it ev­ery spring with fresh com­post (al­though I use bracken or pine nee­dles for the blue­ber­ries) hav­ing gen­tly scraped away the top layer of old pot­ting mix.

1 Choose a pot at least 30cm wide and cover its hole with a crock to aid drainage and stop it getting blocked with soil. 2 Fill with your cho­sen pot­ting mix to about half way, just enough so that the tree is at the right depth when planted. 3 Firmly plant the tree in the cen­tre of the pot and fill in around its root­ball with more of your com­post mix. 4 En­sure it is at the cor­rect depth and then firm the com­post down with your hands to get rid of any air holes. 5 Wa­ter your tree gen­er­ously and con­tinue to keep it well wa­tered and fed. Mulch each spring with fresh com­post.

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