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Burnett: Give a little backyard breathing room to fruit trees

People who have just moved to the Okanagan often get a bit overenthusiastic about growing some fruit trees on their new property.

And why not, for the Okanagan is world renowned for its fruit growing history and climate that suits.

However, the reality is usually there is not enough space on most properties to grow one of everything.

Absolute minimum spacing for most fruit trees is 12 feet and this is pushing it.

What about the high density planting we see more and more in local orchards?

This is limited to apples mainly, however, I see pear blocks going in that mirror some of the apple plantings and also a few cherries planted neck and neck.

The specialized pruning techniques and cultural practices necessary to keep these healthy and productive are not conducive to the success of the average homeowner.

Besides, most of this specialized super dwarf root stock is not available to the retail market.

Many years ago, I approached a fruit tree nursery in Oliver and asked if there was such a thing as a dwarf peach tree.

His answer at the time was no, but he said if a person did some summer pruning it would have a controlling effect on the tree.

Today, there are true genetic dwarf peach trees available. But as far as I know, the fruit produced by these is less than stellar. I suggest if you want nice peaches you should stick with the regular tree stock available.

You can do something that will increase your ability to have more than one variety of peaches while only having one tree in the garden and that is to graft several varieties into one tree.

I have a Glow-haven peach on which I have grafted three other peach varieties and a nectarine.

This way, I have peaches coming on all summer long with early mid-season and late varieties as well as the nectarine.

You can do this with other fruit trees as well as long as you stay within the species—apples on apples, pears on pears, etc.

Another method of keeping fruit trees under control is to espalier them along a wall or fence.

This takes some effort and a little knowledge but it is not difficult. I came across a good Canadian website that gives some simple instructions—www.canadiangardening.com/how-to/techniques/how-to-espalier-a-tree/a/1345” http://www.canadiangardening.com/how-to/techniques/how-to-espalier-a-tree/a/1345

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Last Saturday, Brian Sprout and I organized a get together at the old outdoor aquatic centre site in City Park and to our delight the response was fantastic.

Our goal is to see a complex built that emulates the old facility which kept the park an active vibrant place for people to gather and enjoy aquatic entertainment.

A world class modern version is what we envision.

If you wish to keep in the loop as this moves forward, send an email request to friendsoftheaquatic@gmail.com or by traditional mail to PO Box 25154, Kelowna B.C. V1W 3Y7

In just over two weeks of sharing information and ideas, we have generated an amazing number of supporters all interested in making this idea come to life.

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