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Plants That Keep Us Together Featured

Plants are what we need in todays turbulent world.

Big Idea

  • What is the difference between dwarf and semi-dwarf fruit trees? 
  • Semi-dwarf fruit tree yield. How long do semi dwarf trees live? 
  • Dwarf fruit tree spacing. How big is a semi dwarf fruit tree?
  • How to care for fruit tree. 
  •

Pick the freshest fruits right from your own backyard.

It is easy to see in times like this how differently people think and act. Differences in action and belief seem to be on display everywhere. Whether the news, your favorite social media, or just shopping at your local garden center, you can see differences on display.  In contrast, kindness and understanding for others seem to be in short supply.  I wrestled with this idea and turned the question on its head with this question, "What can everyone, or at least most everyone) agree on??

It seems flowers, plants, fresh vegetables, or some form of gardening is just that, something we can all appreciate and agree with.   It's like seeing a friend's face and how their expression changes when given flowers, or how you feel while walking through a beautiful garden; it's transformative.  I keep coming back to plants; it's just what we need in today's turbulent world.

Sorry, you've gone too deep into this garden writer's process.  This column is dedicated to picking the freshest fruits right from your own back yard.

Even with smaller trees, growing fruit is a long-term investment. It can take anywhere from 2 to 10 years for fruits to begin bearing. If your plan is to harvesting for years to come, it pays to design before you plant.

Choosing a Size - The terms dwarf and semi-dwarf can be a bit confusing. Dwarf fruit trees reach a height and width of about 8' feet; pruning does keep them smaller. At this height, trees can are tended and harvested easily while standing on the ground. Unfortunately, dwarf fruit trees tend to be short-lived.

Semi-dwarf fruit trees are a little larger at maturity, with most topping at 12-16 feet tall and wide. Their size can make maintenance and harvesting a bit of a challenge, but the average harvest is 8-12 bushels, about twice that of a dwarf tree.

There's not much difference in the space required for the two types of trees, and both should start producing fruit within 2-5 years. For readers thinking even 8 feet is more area you're not willing to sacrifice, you have choices. Both semi and dwarf trees can be grown in containers. The yield is not as heavy, but every bit as delicious!

Which Fruit Trees Need Pollinators? Most fruit trees produce better if there are two or more trees planted near each other. Anywhere in the landscape will do; just don't put your house, barn, or shed between the two trees.

The trees do need to be the same type of fruit, but different varieties. You should plant two different kinds of apples, as long as they bloom simultaneously, they help cross-pollinate each other. Most fruit tree catalogs recommend tree combinations that pollinate each other. We have several Yavapai County charts here at Watters Garden Centers that help, and completely free.

If you only want one fruit tree, your best options are peach, apricot, nectarine, and sour cherry. These fruits are self-fruitful, meaning they pollinate themselves with help from local bees. One notable exception is a sweet Stella cherry that is also self-fruitful.

Smaller yards are the perfect place for cocktail trees, with multiple fruits graphed into the same tree trunk. This is where three or more pear varieties are grafted onto one trunk.

Chill Hours - deciduous trees need a certain number of winter nights below 45 degrees before they are stimulated to bloom. Without this chilling period, the fruit set will be limited the following spring. A tree needing only 300 chill hours flowers very early in spring exposes the fruits to snow and freezing weather. Mountain landscapes need trees that require at least 600 winter chill hours for ideal fruiting. I know this is technical, but one of the most critical decisions when choosing the right fruit tree. Here at the Watters Garden Center, we've curated locally proven varieties when you need help.

Which Fruit Trees are Low Maintenance? All fruit trees require some care and feeding. Most require annual pruning. However, some grow naturally with minimal care once they're established. Cherries top the list of low maintenance trees. These require pruning only when branches are damaged or crossing.

Stone fruits like peaches, apricots, and nectarines are also low maintenance. Some pruning is needed to keep stone fruits open to light and usually need fruit thinning in early summer for a healthy harvest.

Apple and pears are the best mountain producers. A late frost, just as the fruit is forming, will thin the fruit set. Because apples and pears are the very last trees to blossom in spring, the likelihood of frost damaging this crop is reduced considerably. This one trait keeps them in the number one producer spot.

Autumn is the ideal planting season for trees. We have the best selection of local varieties now.  If you're thinking fruit this fall, now is the time to plant.

Until next week, I'll be helping gardeners choose the best fruit trees here at Watters Garden Center.

Ken Lain can be found throughout the week at Watters Garden Center, 1815 W. Iron Springs Rd in Prescott, or contacted through her web site at WattersGardenCenter.com or  Top10Plants.com.

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Watters Garden Center 2020 Garden Classes

Each Saturday @ 9:30am, Watters hosts a FREE garden class, open to the public!

Free Saturday Garden Classes at Watters Garden Center 

  • Classes are tailored to Mountain Landscapes
  • Top tree information for landscapes and privacy 
  • Newcomers can jump right in with these secrets

Free Garden Class offered every Saturday @ 9:30 am in the fresh air at Watters Garden Center, 1815 Iron Springs Road in Prescott. 

Classes are also live-streamed at FB.com/WattersGardenCenter - you can join right in!



Fall Containers that Bloom like Crazy!

October 17 @ 9:30 AM  

After this class, you’ll have what it takes to design great container gardens that sparkle in the afternoon heat.

Learn about proper watering, the best foods, companion plants, and more.

Everyone is going to comment on your potting success!

Bring your own container or buy a new one and we’ll have design stations open, with expert advice on hand.


Succulents, Cacti and the Low Maintenance Garden

October 27 @ 9:30 AM  

Succulents, Cacti and Low Maintenance Gardens are all the rage right now, and a great choice for busy gardeners!

These are the toughest, drought-tolerant plants that will grow like gangbusters in a tight space with very little care.

Students will learn how to use the local favorites that bring warm color and texture to your home.


Showy Shrubs of Autumn

October 31 @ 9:30 AM  

Shrubs are the backbone of good design.

They provide essential structure, beauty, fragrance, and color with a great variety of shapes.

Rock landscapes without shrubs tend to look strange, immature and lacking.

Learn how to use shrubs to create simple but effective planting combinations for a design impact that will WOW all four seasons of the year.

Free to gardeners that want more from their yard.


Best Mountain Evergreens to Plant in November 

November 7 @ 9:30 AM 

Tired of looking at the neighbor’s RV?  This class shows off the best, fastest-growing plants to fill in your privacy screens!  You can screen unsightly neighbors, enhance your view, or block pesky traffic and cut noise and light pollution after this class.

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Last modified on Saturday, 17 October 2020 21:41
Published in AZAgriculture.news
Ken Lain

Ken Lain can be found throughout the week at Watters Garden Center, 1815 W. Iron Springs Rd in Prescott, or contacted through his web site.


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