Colon-shaped garden, or How to grow 20 fruit trees on one hundredth?
The first columnar apple trees were bred by breeders more than half a century ago, but with us they are still considered novelties. Coloniform differ from ordinary fruit trees in a compact crown (30-60 cm in diameter), small height (1.5-2.5 m), and the absence of lateral branching. With a small habit, these wonderful trees are distinguished by the ability to form large crops of large, tasty and beautiful fruits. On 1-2 acres, you can place up to 20-25 columnar trees - varieties of ripening apple varieties. But pears, plums, peaches, cherries, apricots and other crops, which sellers call colony-shaped, are not really such. These are usually fruit trees on dwarf rootstocks, and in order to maintain the shape of the columns, they need to be pruned regularly. About the features of creating a column-shaped garden will tell our article.
Advantages and disadvantages of column-shaped gardens
Column-shaped gardens are not a tribute to fashion, but a new step in gardening technology. The cultivation of columnar and dwarf fruit trees has significant benefits, compared with traditional fruit crops (with a wide crown):
- compact crown allows to place 1-3 trees on 1 m² of area;
- low height provides quality crop care and convenient harvesting of the entire crop, and not just from the lower branches;
- early fruiting - you can take the first crop already in the 2nd year;
- high productivity (from 1 hundred to 100, and with time up to 500 kg of fruits);
- use in landscape design (green hedge or “phyto-wall” along the track).
Column-shaped crops and fruit trees on dwarf rootstocks require careful attention and the fulfillment of all the requirements of agricultural technology when planting, watering, fertilizing, pruning, etc. And, of course, they also have their drawbacks.
The minuses of columnar and dwarf trees include:
- the location of the root system in the upper 30-50 cm layer of soil, which can cause freezing of the roots. They need winter shelter in the first 2-4 years of life;
- the intensity of growth and yield of the crop greatly depletes the top layer of the soil, which requires systematic feeding, and in dry years and sufficient (in the first half of the growing season) watering;
- strong winds make it necessary to install supports or even trellises;
- the duration of effective fruiting is limited in most varieties to 15 (less often 20-25) years. Then it is necessary to rejuvenate the colon-shaped garden, as the yield of the old is sharply reduced.
The right choice of columnar seedlings of apple trees
The best for planting are zoned annual seedlings, but 2-3 year olds can also be planted. Consider, the older the seedling is, the more difficult it is to adapt when planting, it requires more careful care in new conditions for it.
Column-shaped seedlings of apple trees have their own characteristics:
- the central shoot (future trunk) of an annual seedling has a thickness of at least 1.5 cm (more often more). 2-3 year old seedlings do not form lateral shoots;
- the seedling should be without leaves;
- the bark should have a lively look and be elastic to the touch, not dried out. Without damage;
- the roots are not bent, without decay, not dried out. With easy scraping of the skin of thin processes, the wood should be white. Dried roots will not ensure the survival of the seedling.
When laying a columnar apple orchard or even planting several seedlings, you can unknowingly plant fakes. One-year-olds are very similar, and the cost of a column-shaped seedling is quite high. This is what sellers use on the roads or on dubious layouts. Therefore, always buy varietal column-shaped seedlings only in nurseries, garden centers or in specialized stores.
Take your time, ask for a certificate and a description-description of the variety, where the following data should be clearly indicated, which are repeated on a tag attached to the seedling:
- type of culture
- regionalization (preferably local),
- name of variety
- seedling age
- fruit ripening period.
Peculiarities of laying a garden of colonized trees and dwarf rootstocks
Column-shaped and fruit trees on dwarf rootstocks are low-growing and will receive optimal lighting when placed in the southern or southeastern part of the site.
Many varieties of columnar apple trees are self-infertile. When laying the garden, select several varieties of one type of culture with simultaneous flowering. Cross-pollination will increase productivity.
Choosing different types of fruit crops for the garden, be sure to follow the rule of "good neighborhood", that is, compatibility of crops. So, the apple tree is a good neighbor for the pear. But these crops do not feel well next to cherries or peaches. Cherries and peaches get along well with plum and cherry plum.
Before planning a garden, be sure to familiarize yourself with the compatibility of trees and draw on paper a layout diagram for species and varieties.
Colon-shaped apple trees are best placed on a rectangular plot, placing trees in a row at a distance of 50-70 (maximum 80) cm, and between rows 90-100 cm. It is easy to calculate the total number of trees on 1 or 2 acres and outline their location on the diagram.
It is more practical to plant seedlings in the spring, which will allow them to take root well and adapt to new conditions, but it is better to prepare planting pits in the fall. The planting process itself is no different from the planting of ordinary varieties.
Read the rules for planting fruit trees in our article How to plant a tree correctly?
Features of the care of colony-shaped varieties of fruit crops
Column-shaped varieties of apple trees practically do not form lateral skeletal branches, which means that they do not need careful crop-forming pruning. The entire crop is located on the shorted pads of the main trunk.
Some varieties on the central trunk have short lateral branches located at an angle of about 30 degrees with respect to the central trunk. With increased growth, they are shortened to 5-8 cm, and those growing at right angles are cut off (ruthlessly).
As for fruit trees on dwarf rootstocks, their cardinal trimming to the shape of the column does not make sense. Since at the same time a significant part of the potential crop is lost. Their cropped crown is simply made more compact.
In the early years, the tops of the colonized crops freeze. The young shoot does not have time to ripen. To prevent this from happening, in the first 3-4 years the top is wrapped for the winter with insulating material (not a film) in the form of a cap made of several layers of burlap or thick paper tied with a rope (so as not to be blown away by the wind). In the spring, the cap is removed so that the top does not lock and does not become moldy.
If, however, the top is frozen, it is cut off, leaving 1-2 lateral shoots with vertical growth, which will be a continuation of the central trunk.
To protect the young root system from freezing (it is dangerous for the temperature on the soil surface -10 ... -15 ° C), for the winter cover the soil around the trunk with spruce branches, sawdust, horse peat or other natural material (straw is not allowed), which does not accumulate moisture. When snow falls, it is also raked under the trunk, as an additional protection.
Frost-resistant varieties of columnar apple trees and fruit trees on dwarf rootstocks
Column-shaped varieties of apple trees are widespread in the southern regions of Russia. In the central and northern, column-like varieties are also moving forward, but more slowly. This is due to the relatively small number of varieties that can withstand severe frosts in winter.
But in the conditions of the Moscow Region, the middle zone, the Urals and Siberia, early, middle and late varieties of the following varieties of columnar apple trees and trees are grown on dwarf plows.
The only common species of columnar fruit trees today are apple trees. Breeders have proposed more than 100 varieties that are resistant to winter frosts, adapted to the differences in spring and autumn temperatures and forming annual crops.
The most popular among them are: “Vasyugan”, “President”, “Triumph”, “Ostankino”, “Currency”, “Moscow Necklace”, “Green Noise”, “Arbat”, etc.
Colon-shaped peaches are still a pipe breeder’s pipe dream. Throughout the world, attempts to breed them do not stop, but so far the peach has no columnar varieties, but it boasts varieties on dwarf rootstocks that are quite resistant to adverse weather conditions.
Pay attention to the following varieties of “columnar” peaches: “Honey”, “Steinberg”, “Gardener's Totem”, “Don frost-resistant”, “Anniversary of the capital”, “Golden triumph”.
Pears are unique in their aroma and honey taste. In the garden they will take their rightful place. The best varieties for the Moscow region and other regions with unstable weather conditions include the following dwarf varieties: Carmen, Sapphira, Decor, Honey, Delight, Severyanka, Sanremi, Pavlovskaya.
Plum and cherry plum
Compact to 1.5-2 m trees on dwarf rootstocks are highly decorative and plentiful crops. Resistant to adverse weather conditions, therefore, successfully grown in any region of Russia. Favorable neighborhood provide apple and quince.
Varietal variety is very large. The most popular varieties of dwarf plums: Oscar, Angers, Russkaya, Rubin, Honey, Yellow, Blue Sweet, Imperial, Mirabelle.
Of the varieties of dwarfish cherry plum, the most famous are: “Blue”, “Cleopatra”, “Traveler”, “Anastasia”, “General”.
Dear readers! We told you about the advantages and disadvantages of columnar and dwarf fruit trees. We would be grateful if in the comments to the article you share your experience in growing such crops.