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Fruit trees and clay soil

Posted: Thu May 03, 2018 10:46 pm
by vivienz
I apologise now as a high percentage of my posts are likely to mention clay. This time, it's fruit trees and clay.

Alongside all the splendid vegetables I'm hoping to grow, I also want to establish a number of fruit trees. I bought a few trees from Wilkos last year and have been nursing them along in pots and they are turning into fine specimens. So far, I have 2 pear trees (concorde and a butter pear), 1 cherry (sunburst), 2 plum (Victoria and president), 1 apple (discovery) and a couple of blackcurrant bushes. I would like to have a few more apple trees, at least 1 more cherry and plenty of soft fruit including raspberries and tayberries.

My thinking is that no matter how big a hole I dig and how much non-clay stuff I fill it with, at some point the roots of the trees will go beyond this and into the natural clay soil surrounding them. Is this an issue? Are there particular measures that I should take to ensure that they thrive? Also, how best should I treat the soft fruit bushes? I plan to have the soft fruit in a fruit cage to protect the crop.

Thanks again. All advice is much appreciated.

Re: Fruit trees and clay soil

Posted: Fri May 04, 2018 7:36 am
by Geoff
I think the majority of fruit trees like clay, for example a lot is grown in Herefordshire which has red clay soil. I don't know what Kent soil is like. Site preparation might take a bit of research. I think the modern advice is minimal preparation with the danger being that digging a big hole and mixing in organic matter creates a sump that fills up with water and drowns the tree. Try Brogdale and RHS for advice. God luck with your grand project.

Re: Fruit trees and clay soil

Posted: Fri May 04, 2018 8:13 am
The soft fruit shouldn't be a problem as they are quite shallow rooted, so just keep them topped up with good compost and they'll be fine.

Re: Fruit trees and clay soil

Posted: Fri May 04, 2018 8:18 am
by vivienz
Thanks, both.

Geoff - your comment about forming a sump was exactly what I was concerned about in the early stages. Hubby is a member of the RHS so I shall ask him to do some research on my behalf, too. It's only fair as he will eat plenty of the produce.

Re: Fruit trees and clay soil

Posted: Mon May 28, 2018 8:06 am
by hilary
No problem here on clay. It's just the watering for the first two years u til established. Don't forget blueberries in ericaceous compost in pots. I have a wonderful crop each year and they freeze well and are so expensive to buy, not forgetting they seem to have to travel halfway round the world!


Re: Fruit trees and clay soil

Posted: Mon May 28, 2018 12:49 pm
by vivienz
Splendid - thanks, Hilary! We have plenty of other trees to plant out that we have been nurturing in pots, so a few more won't add so much to the watering chores.

Blueberries, now there's a thing. I love blueberries but not as much as the wild bilberries that I used to pick as a child with my dad up in the Lickey Hills near Birmingham. I never seemed to come home with that many but my fingers, face and tongue were blue for days afterwards. Happy days.