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Urban Fruit Trees

 
Jenna Sanders
Posts: 54
Location: Michigan, zone 5
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We are starting a food forest on our 60x140 lot, and I was wondering what fruit trees would be best for this small space? Should we just cram as many different varieties as possible into out lot? Or are there some fruit trees that would be better suited to our small space? Should we invest in the dwarf varieties or just heavily prune a regular sized tree? What type of pruning is best for the small spaces, or does it vary for different tree types?
Thank you for taking your time to answer all of our questions!
 
Stefan Sobkowiak
permaculture orchardist
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Jenna Sanders wrote:We are starting a food forest on our 60x140 lot, and I was wondering what fruit trees would be best for this small space? Should we just cram as many different varieties as possible into out lot? Or are there some fruit trees that would be better suited to our small space? Should we invest in the dwarf varieties or just heavily prune a regular sized tree? What type of pruning is best for the small spaces, or does it vary for different tree types?
Thank you for taking your time to answer all of our questions!

Jenna I would refer you to the film for most of these questions, regarding pruning and training.
I would suggest using dwarf if they are hardy in your area, disease resistant certainly. Make sure you have 2 cultivars of each species you cram in for proper pollination. If you can grow cherries in your part of Michigan they are nice along the north edge since they can be the largest tree. Plums, apples, pear, kiwi, peaches, small fruit, cane fruit,... Why limit yourself? Just try to put enough for you and the wildlife. The major problem in the city is wildlife helping themselves to the crop from a limited number of trees.
 
Jamie Wallace
Posts: 82
Location: Lantzville, Vancouver Island,BC Cool temperate, Lat. 49.245 Zone 8a
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Hi Jenna
Good for you...a smaller urban lot can be very exciting as the whole area is basically zone 1.
I gather your producing a food forest that would act as a perimeter screen as well?
Diversity will serve you well so I would recommend as wide a variety as you can comfortably deal with.
Try and determine what your max height requirements are for your food forest, you may want a 20' screen in one or more locations and in that case pick the best root stock for that application. I would lean towards dwarf for the most part but perhaps a few taller trees to vary up the habitat if their locations would be right.
Keep us posted on what trees you end up selecting.
 
Jenna Sanders
Posts: 54
Location: Michigan, zone 5
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Yes, exactly. What we need is both privacy and functionality, and it has been a very enjoyable challenge. On the north end of the lot, I have two apples and a cherry, intermixed with currents. I will add more shrub types next spring, I think...or as my budget allows. Along the northwest side of the lot, we have blueberries, and strawberries...eventually I would like to get a ground cover of wintergreen established as well...the blueberries will hopefully serve as a nice privacy hedge, without being a problem in the neighbors yard (fruit flies, and the like..). The back yard is where we get our southern exposure, so we have our hugel back there, as well as a grape and kiwi vine on the fences, another variety of apple, a peach, and another variety of cherry. The rest of our lot is already bordered by lilacs, maple, oak and pine.
For the size of the lot, we do have a nice variety already...I'm only having trouble getting rid of the grass, but, bit by bit, the sod is getting dug out and replaced.
I wonder about the feasibility of starting a mini csa in my backyard...of course, by the time our family is fed...it may be futile.
 
Ann Torrence
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Location: Torrey, UT; 6,840'/2085m; 7.5" precip; 125 frost-free days
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Take a look at the book Paradise Lot by Eric Toensmeier to see what he crammed into a space of similar size in MA.

His book support site is still active http://paradiselotblog.wordpress.com
 
John Saltveit
gardener
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I am going to give you an answer that Paul Wheaton will never give you: grafting. I deeply respect Paul, but we disagree on this issue. In an urban situation, you will do best to grow only one tree of most fruit species, and grafting pollinating varieties to that dwarf or semi-dwarf rootstock. Then you need only one cherry: you could graft both sweet and pie to colt rootstock for example. You could grow one apple tree, and balance the varieties. One pear tree, etc, and they will pollinate each other. The rootstock will determine the size. Know the name of the rootstock, so you can see typically how big it will grow.
JohN S
PDX OR
 
Angelika Maier
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Location: cool climate
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I agree. When I was a kid we had a huge cherry tree my grandfather grafted 3 kinds of cherries on it. How about espalier? What climate? And what is "60x140 lot"?
Don't forget the smaller fruit gooseberry (forget the thornless ones they are useless), josta, currants, black currants, ugni. There are these ballerina apples my neighbour has one, they don't take space at all. And more for show off there are stepover apples. Kiwis can be rather huge.
 
Jenna Sanders
Posts: 54
Location: Michigan, zone 5
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Angelika- I am in Michigan,zone 5. A 60x140 foot lot, the size of my yard. So after the house and parking spaces I have roughly 5000 sq. ft. to plant on. Less, if you ask my husband
I think, for now, I may put in one more tree and then focus on the smaller fruit. I've never heard of so many of these plants, the possibilities are endless, it seems!
John- Funny you should mention that, I was just looking at a lovely grafted espaliered tree at a nursery the other day. I can understand Paul's reasons for not using grafted trees on a large amount of acreage, but to put them on my small lot, it just makes so much sense!
Ann- Thank you for that blog, I'm devouring it. And will probably pick up the book at the library later today.
I just added in some blackberries last night, found two sad looking plants on the walmart discount rack for $5, and I couldn't resist...hopefully I don't end up with a mess of wild brambles on my hands.
 
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