If you have a really large garden and are uncertain what to do with it then why not plant an orchard? Everyone is advised to eat more fruit and vegetables so why not grow your own? Good garden centres can supply the typical trees that will bear fruit in the climate; apples and pears, plums and cherries. That is a good start for healthy fruit to be eaten raw or perhaps used for pies and chutneys.
You need to have a decent amount of land for an orchard. Ten trees may ideally need 2000 sq. feet because of the space you will need in-between each tree. If you have the same amount again for your vegetables then you’ll produce plenty from your own garden during the growing season or when the fruit is ready for picking.
This part of the garden may not provide you with much colour but you will certainly enjoy the time when the fruit trees are in blossom, particularly if you opt for some cherry trees. A fruit tree collection needs little in the way of maintenance other than pruning and if you are uncertain about what to do and when to do it, then your tree supplier will always be happy to advise you.
Mature trees need pruning towards the end of the winter and you must be certain you have sharp and clean tools for the work. You should remove dead or damaged branches each year because this is where infection is likely to start. If there are any shoots in the ground nearby you should remove them. Any branches that rub together or are running parallel to each other may be competing for the same water resources so one or the other should be pruned.
Other branches to remove are those growing inwards because they will inhibit light. Shade is an enemy to strong growth and a good crop. You want to encourage a tree whose branches grow outwards in search of the light that is able to penetrate right into the tree.
Competition is likely to mean you get smaller fruit. Indeed so does having too many fruits on the tree hence thinning is also something that you should do at the appropriate time. That is after the blossom has fallen and the very small fruits are left. Cherries do not need thinning but in the case of apples and pears one fruit every six inches should improve your yield’s size.
Orchards are best where there is a supply of water with the bloom coming out in the spring once the chance of frost should have gone. Frost is a danger for citrus fruit but that is not really suitable for the UK Climate. There are some other things you may like to try such as damson, mulberry or quince but if you already have four different trees perhaps your time will be better employed on the other 2000 sq. feet where you are growing your vegetables.