Family Tree Plantings - Four Trees in One Hole!
Family tree plantings are a selection of deciduous fruit trees planted very closely together, with all branches pruned to grow outwards. Without looking closely, the trees appear to be one. Family tree plantings means that fruit will be harvested over a longer period with several varieties, rather than a glut over a week or two, while only taking up the space of one tree.
How to create a Family Tree planting:
1. Select three to five varieties of the same fruit type, as these will have the same growth habit (peaches and nectarines which can be combined as the trees are identical).
2. Prune each tree so that it only has branches on one side of the tree, with branches starting at around the same height on each tree. It might seem that this would create a unbalanced, weak tree with the weight all on one side, but these will be counterbalanced by the roots growing together with those from the other trees so will have a very strong anchor.
3. Dig a large hole, about 1m wide by 40-50cm deep.
4. Arrange the trees in a circle in the hole, leaving a gap around 30cm between the trunks of each tree, with all branches facing outwards.
5. Return the soil to the planting hole, pressing down to ensure the soil is firm but not compacted. Mix in compost to enrich poor soil if necessary.
6. Tidy up any pruning, to ensure no branches are crossing or growing into each other.
Don’t use dwarf varieties (dwarf rootstocks are ok)
Make sure all trees are on the same rootstock (so that the roots grow together and have the same tree vigour).
Choose varieties that are either self fertile or cross pollinate each other.
Recommended variety combinations:
Varieties are listed in order of maturity, with the approximate harvest range noted:
Plums: December to March
Plumcot Scarlet Sunrise
Apricots: December to February
Peaches: December to March
Flatto Sweet Cap
Nectarines: December to March
Early Red II
Flatto Button Bright
Peach/Nectarine combo: December to March
Nectarine Early Red II
Peach Coconut Ice
Flatto Nectarine Button Bright
Apples: February to May
Pears: January to May