Planting for the Future
Planting a garden each spring is a wonderful start to the growing season. We can choose new annual crops based on what grew well (or didn't) last year and whatever looks interesting or unusual. Planting trees and perennial crops requires more planning. Some perennials like strawberries will bear fruit the year they're planted, but fruit trees can take two or more years to bear a crop. Planting a few fruit and nut trees or even an orchard, which should outlive you, requires a multi-generational view.
A good friend of ours planted an apple tree this year in celebration of good health and good friends. We were happy to share in the fun and add to her mini-orchard. In our back yard we have an apple, almond and plum tree and we're rapidly running out of room for more. We made sure to plant self-pollinating (self-fertile) fruit trees as we have only one tree for each type of fruit. If you have enough room, planting multiple cultivars of a fruit (or a 'fruit salad tree') will help encourage pollination. We also work to provide a welcome environment for the pollinators (e.g. honeybees) that ensure a healthy fruit crop.
When you are planting for the future, there are a few more thoughts to keep in mind. Plant your tree where it will receive enough sunlight and water (preferably rain). Choose a spot where the tree can grow to it's full size, or plan on pruning it to size. Look for trees that are hardy and likely to grow well in the changing climatic conditions (warmer and drier where we live) that are affecting your home town.
'The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now.'
- Chinese Proverb
University of Bristol - Urban Pollinators: ecology and conservation