Our Top Gardening Books: “The Fruit Tree Handbook” by Ben Pike

“The Fruit Tree Handbook”

Who doesn’t love the taste of a locally grown, organic piece of fruit? Apples, pears, cherries and plums are the fruit that grow best on the British isles and are covered in depth in Ben’s beautiful book.

Growing an orchard of fruit trees or a single fruit tree in your garden will help the environment and the local biodiversity. Birds will be attracted to the fruits and insects on the tree. Ben advocates not spraying your trees with any chemicals – choose fruit varieties that are suited to the climate and soil conditions where you live and spraying won’t be necessary. Ben guides you through the process of identifying the soil of your plot of land and how to enhance it, rootstocks, which fruit varieties to choose and where to plant them, how to attract bees to your garden, and so much more.

Ben’s top tips for buying and planting trees

  • Ideally, buy bare-rooted trees from a specialist nursery.
  • One-year-old (or maiden) trees will establish best and are cheaper to buy.
  • Plant bare-rooted trees within the first week after they arrive from the nursery, or heel them in the ground to keep the roots moist.
  • Make sure that the roots do not dry out at any stage, especially when planting on a cold, windy day.
  • Most fruit trees will need staking. A stake 1-1.25 meters is usually sufficient; 0.5 meters should protude above ground.
  • Grass and weeds will need to be kept clear around the trunk. Mulching or mulch mats are effective ways of achieving this.
  • Fit a rabbit guard.
  • Small fruit trees can also be grown in pots.
  • Consider how you will keep grass and weeds under control and whether you will need to protect the trees from grazing animals or deer. If so, construct appropriate tree guards.

Grab a copy of Ben’s “The Fruit Tree Handbook” here and enjoy growing your fruit tree(s)!



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