The book starts with the basics: space, light, air circulation, soil, drainage, and even microclimates are considered. The authors recognize that many people have little space or no space at all for fruit trees and they offer a variety of solutions for fitting fruit trees into the available places. Hedgerows for those with small backyards, raised beds for those with compacted soils or no soil, and container planting (with instructions) are just some of the solutions.
The chapter on plant selection goes through how to select a tree for your area and particular site. Another chapter goes into detail on how to plant the tree to give it the best start. Irrigation and fertilization get a chapter of their own. In each of those chapters, small space gardening gets equal time with larger spaces.
Proper pruning techniques and timing, mulch, and weeding (and when not to weed) are thoroughly covered, followed by a brief mention of companion planting and permaculture. The book finishes with ideas on using the harvest, both preservation methods and a selection of recipes.
One of the authors is Cem Akin, executive director of the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation (FTPF). The other author, Leah Rottke, is a volunteer arborist for the FTPF and a faculty member of Cuyamaca College’s Ornamental Horticulture Department. FTPF is a non-profit organization with the goal of planting three fruit trees for every person on the planet. The trees are planted in community spaces, where they can reach the most people.
The Home Orchard Handbook is written with the beginning orchardist in mind, but has enough detail to help current owners of fruit trees get more out of their planting.
Lemon tree in a container photo via Shutterstock