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Food & Wine July 1, 2016

Gardening Column – The Urban Orchard

Despite living in the city for around a decade, there are two things that I still struggle with. While the delightful aroma of a swimming pool which emerges from my kitchen tap is almost manageable, resigning myself to the tastelss, watery fruit from the supermarket, isn’t.


But thankfully, growing delicious fresh fruit in the city isn’t difficult. Whether your plot is large or small, as long as you choose the right varieties, and get set up properly, it’s possible to grow delicious fruit in your own backyard, or even in pots.


Setting yourself up for success

Make sure you give each tree enough space initially and choose suitable varieties. Plant them well, and in the case of deciduous fruit trees, prune to get the shape right now. It will save a lot of time later.



Planting too closely together increases competition for resources, and trees will get less light and airflow, which can cause them to be more prone to disease.


Dwarf Peaches & Nectarines — 1.5m

Dwarf Varieties of Apples — 1.5m

Apples on Dwarf (M9) Rootstock — 2.5m

Apples on MM106 Rootstock — 3+m

Peaches, Plums, Nectarines — 3.5+m

Dwarf Citrus — 1.5-2m

Full-Size Citrus — 3m


Choosing the right varieties

Things to consider include taste, pollination, and disease resistance. Check to see if the varieties you want are self-fertile or if they need a pollinator. Peaches and nectarines, with the exception of some dwarf varieties, are all self-fertilising. Some varieties of apples and plums are self-fertile. For more info visit


For container growing, choose dwarf varieties of peach, nectarines and apples, or citrus trees grafted onto a dwarf rootstock.



Prune newly planted trees this winter to get the shape right early makes things much easier. For advice on pruning visit our website.



Words: William Aiken


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