Luke Perkins wrote:Hi Danielle-
Many of my non-permaculture gardening friends go for dwarf and semi-dwarf trees because they want them to stay small and manageable in their garden and think that a dwarfing rootstock will aid in that regard. However, my current opinion is that I want to go mainly with seedling standard rootstocks unless I've got a local disease/condition that I'm specifically worried about and there's a particular clonal rootstock that has resistance. I think the misconception is that by purchasing a dwarf or semi-dwarf tree, the gardener will be able to avoid pruning as much. However, even with a small tree, I believe that you still need to prune it for optimal production (some people here might disagree). Dwarfing is usually accomplished by providing a rootstock that is less vigorous. Even if I want a small tree on top, I want large, aggressive roots that are going to spread throughout my soil in search of water and nutrients. So, my current plan going forward is to use grafted seedling rootstocks whenever possible and maintain their size to something manageable via appropriate pruning (for me I'm trying to keep most things in my suburban garden within the range of a small two step ladder).
I still don't have much experience with this (growing small trees on standard sized rootstock) and would love to see more photos here from people keeping trees with standard rootstocks to a very compact shape. I would be particularly interested in hearing from anyone with a small apple espalier or cordon that's grown on seedling rootstock. That would be a great proof of concept.
One more thought on seedling rootstocks- I intend to allow one branch to grow from below the graft line to see whether the seedling is worth eating/propagating. This way we can have grafted trees and confidence that we'll get good fruit, but we'll also be able to discover new varieties- a practice which has significantly declined in large part due to the use of clonal rootstocks.
Danielle Venegas wrote:So I've been curious on this. I'm finding dwarf to be the most common size at nurseries. I've been able to get some standard sized and I buy the largest I can, when I can. Still, I think I only have 9 standard sized trees out of 32. They just aren't selling the larger ones. I imagine for backyard orchardists. Anyway, what is everyone's opinion on size??? I'm mixing mine up best I can but I'd really love the larger trees. I'm going to root stock and graft my own I think.
Ann Torrence wrote:Another thing to consider is your soil type. For our alkaline soil and wind, MM106 came highly recommended. Only slightly smaller than MM111. We also have a few B118s, doing fine, supposedly even more cold tolerant, but not as easy to find.