Retire the ladder, the pole pruner, and the long-handled fruit picker.
|Flavor Queen pluots from Ann Ralph’s garden|
Small fruit trees make fruit trees easy. They lighten the load of pruning, thinning, and harvesting. They won’t overwhelm a backyard farmer with too much shade or work or excessive amounts of fruit. From persimmons to pluots, these trees can be tucked into sunny places, pruned two-dimensionally next to a path, planted against a fence with the back side pruned flat, used as a formal or informal espalier, or aligned in hedgerows. Closely plant two or three similar varieties to more fruitfully utilize space of a single tree.
Fruit trees pruned to stay small expand your choices well beyond dwarf varieties. Check with your neighbors, a local nursery, the farmers’ market, and your agricultural extension office to find fruit that flourishes where you live. Consider your personal preferences. Try things. Choose antique varieties or new ones, common or uncommon favorites. Prune at the summer solstice to keep fruit within reach. Plant more trees with fruit timed to ripen the entire summer and deep into fall.
|Ann’s little pluot tree in bloom|
Photos courtesy of the author.