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RUNNING OUT OF ROOM TO GARDEN (or can I keep my fruit trees cut low)

This photo was taken a couple of years ago.  Since then we have moved some bins to the front yard between front verandah and front tree,  The back garden is nearly full and running out of sunlight.  I suffer badly from plant addiction and may need help.  

What to do now, I have ordered more Eugenia plants, maybe a spot out the front.  There is still the roof, nah too many possums visit there.  Does anyone else have this problem with plant addiction in these hard times.  Last time I counted I had about 130  separate fruit varieties and then there are all the edibles, cacti and greens, and double up of varieties.  I won't go hungry, that's one thing for sure. Any help out there.

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If your on a old sandbank/dune what you need is clay  we have plenty of it at  Murarrie  and that is what makes soil having the right components as the compost disappears over time.

Yes the compost does 'disappear' -- and I now have a very black rich sandy loam from all that carbon breakdown, worm and microbial activity.

Not the quickest way to make a garden.

That holds the moisture. Below that layer the sand persists thus there's not much to interest tree roots unless they adapt to the sub subterranean limits.

In the meantime all that carting of grass cuttings year in  and year out is my substitute for a gym membership.

I've now switched to Vetiver grass mulch which lasts up to a year on the surface.

Dave, I've heard that Bentonite is good if you have any concern about good minerals etc leaching away with rain. Things stick to it when wet.

You can sometimes buy the unscented stuff as cheap cat litter.  I have not tried it, if I find some I'll try it in  big bin and see how it helps.  Most times the good stuff is in the top couple of centimetres anyway, that's why we should keep it covered with mulch.

Hi Barbara, great to hear from you. I like the fellow from Melbourne area (Angelo Eliaides) and have watched his videos on companion planting and close planting and low pruning and he is very informative. 

I would say my fruit trees are mostly sub-tropical with quite a few tropical plants as well. We notice that being under shade makes them reach to the sky for sunlight.  It is a matter of working out which plants like overhead shade as in a rainforest and which ones don't.  We have relocated our stalky trees to more sunlight for part of the day.  It seems to work for us now.  We have an amla tree that is over 3 m tall and needs a good haircut.  Most of our trees are smaller growing varieties and I have tried to pick the early then later fruiting types as well.  

What we will end up with is - where most people would get 30 to 40 fruit on their sunlit trees, we would get about 10 fruit on shaded trees. 

Dave you also make a good point with regard to the way Ernst Gotsch has his food forest. He plants in stages where he grows protection trees and leguminous, nitrogen fixing and pioneer trees mainly to cover bare ground. Then he chops and drops where necessary when a tree has done it's job of protection.  I would love to visit his farm and learn from him. 

Also a good teacher is the man who practices gardening the Eden way - heaps of mulch. a good foot and a half deep and cutting down his trees to shoulder height and then grafting different scions on the the strong branches for different varieties of fruit. He had a lot more space to work with.

The gardeners I am drawn to are people like Adam Shafan and growers of the tropical areas around Florida and also some in California region and also Amazonian forest. I am steering towards the berry type fruit of Jaboticaba, myrciara, eugenia, blueberry and mulberry and those types.  Dark purple, and red fruits rich in anticoxidant etc. good for the body.  Pawpaw and banana are also good food plants.   I found that the citrus are quite needy and require watching for bugs etc. 

Many growers believe in multi-planting of fruit trees in the same hole, but I don't think this is natural but they do this where space is restricted. 

We are in our 70's now and getting to old to keep moving trees around. So selling off the big ones and sticking to smaller ones that like the protection of shade and will grow/thrive in smaller pots for longer. 

Hope I am not boring you with this stuff, but it is interesting hearing other peoples views. 

Thanks everyone for all the good info. Christa, you have given me a few leads to look up on the net - thought I'd exhausted the potential there, but am obviously wrong.

I have given up having fruit trees in pots - too hard to manage the repotting - so in the ground is going to be the way to go. Mulberry and fig fruit no matter what I do to them. We cut back the loquat hard the other day. It's probably still a bit too big, though. The Eureka lemon  (quite young and still under 2 metres) got a haircut yesterday, after hearing that Andy keeps his citrus small and still gets fruit. There is no way I'll be cutting back the 20-year-old Emperor mandarin, though!! It's loaded with fruit, and will keep its favoured position in a bed all by itself - just some herbs underneath. The pomegranate has been nibbled almost to oblivion by the possums, so I'm not sure I should prune it at the moment - mind you, it probably wouldn't make much difference - there's no foliage on the upper branches anyway.

From what I can gather, keeping fruit trees small needs to start when they are very young.Dave, you say that mangoes fruit on new wood, so cutting back hard after fruiting would seem to be the way to go. I've got orders in to Daleys for a Washington Navel, a Feijoa, and a Persimmon. It will be interesting to work on those (if they ever become available). Just on that, Daleys plants are getting very expensive when you factor in freight, don't you think?

They are expensive Barbara, we have visited the site as a group and if they did not have it in their nursery, you have to order and pay postage.  There is a couple of northside places you can buy plants - Van Veen nursery, a place in Ladybird St Kallangur, and another place at Narangba, I just can't think of the name of the place. At least you can drive there and chose your plants.  I buy from a fellow that Doug recommended from Cairns, little did I know, I had been buying from him on auction site without realising he was the same fellow.

We have the same trouble with big pots and bins, you might consider tree bags (made of a canvas type cloth) as least you can just cut the side down if you want to plant later. 

If you were to buy a washington navel, buy a normal size and control growth while young. Sometimes they are still grafted onto rootstock that is hardy or more suitable for wet ground etc.  The flying dragon rootstock dwarfs the top graft and I feel you can control the growth as a different option.  

We have 2 old persimmon trees that are naturally small (Ichi-Ki-Kei-Jiro is the name). Good luck.

That's really interesting and very helpful, Christa. I'll have a look at those two nurseries. I don't think I'll need the man in Cairns yet, but you never know what happens if the addiction takes hold.

Christa, thank you for pointing me at Ladybird Nursery. Went up there on Tuesday, and picked up a Washington Navel and a sugar apple, which he assures me I can keep small. Grafted Feijoas coming in a few weeks. Lovely place, great prices and quite a quick journey up the highway.

Good that you could find something suitable to your needs, Barbara.  It's hard to imagine what they have there behind a normal looking house.  

Hey Christa - just keep planting - no such thing as being too addicted to plants :). 

Barbara, I have a black sapote that I keep at 1.5-2m high and I get fruit regularly.  Don’t have jackfruit though but from what I’ve seen, it’s a far more upright growth than the sapote so I would imagine it would take up less space than the sapote 

That's really encouraging, Susan. You certainly seem to fit a good few into your garden. It would be good to grow some of these trees. Don't need to get lots and lots of fruit - just a few each year on a tree I can net.

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