There was a time when terms like “garden tree”, “family tree”, “collection of trees” and “multi-species tree” did not exist. One could only see such wonders in the homes of “Michelinistas” neighbors who looked at their gardens in awe.
Apple, pear, or plum tree not only produces varieties with different maturity stages but also in various colors and sizes.
Not many people despair of such experiments, only those who are not afraid of them and believe that nature will share its secrets with them.
Today, the “garden tree” continues to amaze and delight, raising many questions and sometimes even fears, but it is not uncommon.
The data obtained through experience make it possible to introduce “genealogies” into usable categories and, if desired, to independently form the necessary “super-sets”. We will talk about the secrets of creating such trees in this article.
PRINCIPLES OF CREATING MULTICLASSIFICATION AND MULTI-SPECIES TREES
In general, a “garden tree” is a tree with several varieties of crops grafted on its canopy. In this case, if different varieties of the same crop are “planted” on one skeleton.
For example, if several varieties of apple trees are grown, this plant is called a multiplant tree. But if there are several different cultures – apricots, plums, and cherry plums – then it is called a polytree.
Such trees are created by grafting. In this case, it takes up to six years to form a single plant. First, a carrier or “skeleton formation” of a variety is planted, and then the appropriate variety is grafted onto it.
Often, this is exactly what growers require for multi-species plants, whose varieties can be grafted with different maturity stages. However, experienced growers advise against this because of the bad timing of the so-called phenological stages.
It is correct to graft summer varieties to summer varieties, fall varieties to fall varieties, winter varieties to winter varieties, or varieties with similar maturity periods to summer varieties. But here, it’s up to each individual to decide – after all, any family tree is an experiment.
CAN I BUY READY-MADE ORCHARD TREES?
Not all gardeners are willing to wait and experiment to perfect unusual multi-species trees. But fortunately, this is not necessary!
Today, you can buy a ready-made specimen with a carefully selected variety guaranteed to suit the needs of the area. This greatly simplifies the labor and eliminates the need to wait.
The only difficult part is finding a species that interests you. But if there is no particular preference, and experimentation is all that matters, then there are options.
HOW TO CREATE A GARDEN TREE YOURSELF
As mentioned above, the only way to create a family tree is through grafting. Which one? Well, it depends on what one prefers and what one is interested in.
Grafting behind the bark and split grafting, budding into the buttress, T-cut grafting, and grafting with grafting pruners can all give good results.
A more complex issue is grafting. Not all species are well adapted to grafting. For some, the wood oxidizes so quickly that it negates all attempts.
Here it is necessary to study the experience of other gardeners, be interested in published data, read special literature, and make attempts.
There is another very important factor that should not be forgotten, and that is the skeleton. The longevity and productivity of the “garden tree” depend on it.
The ideal “skeleton” must meet the following requirements.
- Be able to withstand winter topographic conditions.
- Good compatibility with a large number of species.
- The angle of branching (about 90°) and height from the ground 3.2-5foot (1-1.5 m).
- Able to grow in bunches.
- Do not produce unnecessary growth.
- Have (preferably) moderate growth.
THE BEST SKELETON FOR APPLE TREES
When it comes to apple trees, the easiest option for skeleton formers is a sapling. If you transplant the tree with a large block of soil, damaging the roots as little as possible, then in the first year it can be grafted.
However, such a solution has a significant disadvantage – the tree becomes a strong growth, and it is not known what kind of compatibility the seedling has with other varieties, how winter-resistant it is.
THE BEST SKELETONIZER FOR PEARS
The first solution, similar to the apple – to pick up a sapling. But it is not easy to find a pear sapling, and it is dangerous to take rootstocks from older varieties – if the canopy is damaged, a lot of root shoots will be produced, and getting rid of them will be very difficult.
The way out is to grow winter-resistant skeleton formers independently from seeds of forest pears or semi-cultivars.
Skeleton-forming plants of drupe fruits – plums, cherries, apricots, peaches
Drupe fruits are even more problematic in terms of creating multiclassified trees. In northern regions, there are almost no good skeleton formers for them. Grafting does not root well in cold climates, and the crop does not have a productive period to waste energy on this venture.
However, for California, it is possible to try grafting apricots and plums on plums, and in the Urals, plums, and cherry plums on local bramble.
In addition, for plums, cherry plums, and apricots, you can pick rutabagas or thorns of the same. However, it is worth remembering that they have a great potential for the growth and formation of rhizomes.
RULES FOR GRAFTING GARDEN TREES
A suitable “skeleton” has been found! Prepare for grafting. Prune off branches with an angle of less than 60°, branches that are too thin, branches that are too thick, branches that are too broken, branches that are higher than 60inch (1.5m) (so as not to form a very high crown) and branches that are lower than 40inch (1m).
On the “skeleton” should be kept only evenly distributed branches with the thickness of a pencil – on them, they will be grafted.
Three to four varieties are considered to be the best choice for garden trees. Why? If you graft only two varieties to a skeleton tree, you will end up with two scaffold branches growing in opposite directions – a direct risk of them breaking due to high productivity.
If 5 or more – these varieties will start competing and those stronger will dominate the weaker ones. The central scion of the scion will also be prone to dominance, so it is better to graft varieties characterized by weak stature to the dominant branch.
To maintain the winter hardiness of orchard trees, grafting is done on the first-order lateral branches 8-12inch (20-30 cm) from the trunk.
The rest, as well as the branches left on the “skeleton” without grafting, are cut off. The time of grafting varies from region to region, from crop to crop, and from grafting method to grafting method.
It is obvious that in spring not only cultivated but also “wild” shoots will begin to grow on the “skeleton” of the orchard tree.
Their presence is very important for the full development of the tree and preparation for the winter, for which reason they are not cut down all at once, but growth is periodically restricted during the growing season. Do not remove them completely until the following spring.
If for some reason you are not satisfied with a mature plant, you can also create a garden tree based on it. To do this, you will need to prune the canopy strongly and graft the species of interest on the branches that grow next year.
THE ADVANTAGES OF MULTIPLE TREES
The advantages of a “garden tree” are many. First, there is no need to uproot the variety if it is not doing well enough – you can use it as a skeleton tree and gradually pick out the varieties you really like.
Second, on a small plot of land, you can “get” several different varieties at the same time, while using the least amount of space. It is possible to combine several crops into one tree so that you can have enough to harvest without unnecessary surplus losses.
The cross-pollination of several varieties is a great advantage. Trees can provide more consistent yields.
Greater resistance to external factors, such as frost resistance, heat tolerance, drought tolerance, as the best for a given area is selected for its formation. Often look interesting with their canopy with a variety of leaves, fruits of different colors, and, of course, spring flowers.
DISADVANTAGES OF ORCHARD TREES
Garden trees also have disadvantages. They have already been mentioned above, but it is worth repeating them. The first is the difficult formation process. It takes four to six years to create a plant, and this is when everything starts for the first time.
The second disadvantage is that it is not easy to find good skeleton formers for future miracle plants. Not all varieties have good grafting and rooting abilities. Not all of them are suitable for each other. However, if you experiment, you can achieve very successful results. Once you start, there will be no stopping.