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SPRING IN THE GARDEN: Creating a mini orchard in your own backyard

Cherry, pear, apple and plum trees are easily grown in our Valley

Ellen Presley

Special to The Record

Nothing tastes better than eating fresh-picked fruit from your own trees.

Many varieties of cherry, pear, apple and plum trees are easily grown in our Valley; as long as you can provide six or more hours of sun, add compost or manure to enrich your soil and mulch around the base of the trees to help retain moisture during the dry months.

Prune fruit trees in the first four years for shape, culling out the weak branches and creating an open vase shape. The following years trim for maintenance. There are several internet sites that will show you how. Plants like to be trimmed at different times of the year for different reasons: Don’t just hack and whack or you may regret it. Doing it right will maintain the health of your tree and give you an abundant and delicious yield.

Depending on the space in your garden, you can also grow many small fruits such as rhubarb, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries, which are very popular. Not only are they nutritious and easy to grow but berries such as blueberries and cranberries have amazingly attractive red foliage in the fall and look lovely tucked in amongst ornamental plants.

If you have a trellis or fence line in a sunny location, try growing kiwis or grapes. If you want to create a privacy hedge, planting a grape hedge may be the way to go.

We are also able to grow many varieties of fig trees, which are both attractive and delicious.

I have a dear friend who loves to grow a massive garden but she is not so keen on harvesting and grows more food than she and her family can eat, so she teams up with LUSH Valley. It is an incredibly wonderful organization that will help harvest gardens and contribute to the food bank or to those who need fresh produce but can’t afford it. In this time of crisis there are those who hunker down and adopt a ‘me first’ attitude and those who say ‘How can I help?’ There is a fear of food shortage and one of the ways in which we can help each other is to safely contribute to the community food supply. If you have land and time, I encourage you to do that.

Growing your own food can be an amazing experience. The flavour and texture is exquisite. This may be the year we all learn to grow our own food and help those who can’t. It is a way individuals can contribute to the community and help us all thrive in this time of crisis. Let’s go beyond the fear and foster hope. Happy gardening.

Ellen Presley is the owner of Anderton Nursery.

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