Here are some simple ways you can make the most of the space you have, even if it’s small, with some incredible edibles and smart garden design.
Most people believe if you have a small courtyard or balcony you have no space for fruit trees.
Well, times have changed.
Working in retail nursery over 20 years, I have seen a substantial change in the way in which fruit trees are grown. There are a lot of dwarf varieties, espaliered forms and multi-grafted possibilities, all suitable for small gardens or the potted garden. These can be incorporated into your garden designs so you can enjoy the freshness and taste of juicy flavoursome home grown fruit.
1. Espaliered Fruit Trees
Espaliering achieves a “carpet” effect on the wall.
With this method, fruit trees can be trained flat against a structure such as a wall or fence. The branches are continually tied, so restricting the width of the plant.
Because it lies close to the wall, the espaliered tree doesn’t enclose you in a small space like a hedge would. It gives another dimension and creates depth within the garden by allowing layers to be planted in front.
Citrus or olive trees are particular good as espaliers because they provide that lush evergreen backdrop, with the benefit of fruit without taking up space.
2. Miniature Fruit Trees
Growing miniature fruit trees doesn’t mean miniature fruit! The fruit tree is usually grafted onto a dwarf rootstock resulting in the plant size being reduced but the fruit remaining normal size.
Miniatures are great for pots on balconies, low hedges, in courtyards or even a small feature tree such a dwarf pomegranate.
Some miniature fruit trees are ‘self-fertile’ varieties, meaning no cross pollinator plant is required, which is great for the smaller garden.
Try a low hedge of a dwarf lemon. With these hardy trees, you’ll enjoy lush green foliage, white perfumed flowers, topped off such a versatile fruit.
If you have a narrow bed alongside a wall or fence try the ‘Ballerina’ apples. Their tall upright growth makes them resemble poles and when they fruit, they are laden with almost any apple variety you crave.
Plant a selection of apples to vary the varieties and lengthen fruiting time.
If you plant miniatures into a pot remember the pots need to be largish. Don’t scrimp but use a quality potting mix with a water storing granule. And for the best results, don’t forget to that fruit trees need regular feeding, watering and pruning.
3. Multi-Grafted Fruit Trees
How’s this for value in a small space?
These fruit trees have two or three varieties grafted onto the one rootstock. For example, on one plant you could get a double grafted peach with one yellow fleshed peach and one white fleshed peach. It also allows cross pollination if required, again saving on space.
Other Edibles Good for Small Spaces
Other ways to use fruiting edible plants in a small space include:
- Groundcover with plants such as strawberries. They are also fantastic in pots and hanging baskets.
- Shade with climbers such as fruiting grapes or kiwi fruit cascading over a pergola or archway. Not only will they produce edible fruit but they will create summer shade.
- Barriers using berries with thorns or spikes. They can be a good barrier on the fence line to deter pests or the neighbourhood burglar from entering your property.
And as with incorporating any edible garden designs into your garden, THE RESULTS ARE DELICIOUS!