The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Plant trees to invest in the long term future

Lemon tree detail

Lemon tree detail

Years ago my friend Sylvia said to me.
“The Fosdykes have their 50th anniversary coming up and we’re planning to give them a Judas tree. What do you think?”

My head whirled. I had just been given a weeping tree that I did not want. A tree can be a great present if..
a) The person has space and
b) The person actually would like that particular tree.
So my response was.
“Do they have an established garden?”
“Well yes.”
“Do they have the space for a Judas tree?”
“I don’t really know.”

Recently my friend Jo pointed out the blossom on her apricot tree. Our apricot tree is still in training for blossom – they can take between three and six years to fruit, so I was a bit envious. She then showed me a mulberry tree that she had just planted in her orchard.
“I know that I probably won’t taste the fruit but someone in the future will enjoy it.”

I’m ashamed to admit that I put the first friend off giving a Judas tree as a present. Twenty years ago I was very much a member of the ‘now’ generation.

Jo’s mulberry tree got the thumbs up from me. Investing in future generations. I still remember that taste of the fruit from an ancient tree in a London garden when I was in my twenties. The dark fruit were delicious and slightly decadent in size. The stains on my hands and the gluttony as I climbed the thick lazy trunk to harvest more.

This morning a tall mysterious box was delivered. It was a surprise present from Danny. A big well established lemon tree. Covered in flowers and tiny green dolls house sized lemons. There is also an almond sized lemon! I’m a lemon fiend. I get through at least seven a week in citron pressé (freshly squeezed lemon juice with water and sugar/honey) and in my long cold vodka each evening.

Danny was thoughtful enough to include both summer and winter feed for the tree to give it the best possible chance of survival. He’d discovered the lemon tree on the Crocus website  – half price. It’s really huge – so a real bargain but as times are hard a generous present.

Will it be there for a future generation? Well I certainly hope so.

Now I’m thinking about a mulberry tree. I might just be able to pluck the fruit for a few years but investing in future generations is the main drive. I’ve had so much pleasure from the old apple trees that were already established in the garden when I arrived so why not continue the tradition?

So thank you Sylvia, Jo and Danny. You all encouraged me to actually think about investing in the long term future when I’m dead and gone to the great kitchen garden in the sky.

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  1. we’ve just planted a mulberry tree. it is tiney at the moment, and I know we’ll be in for a long wait before it fruits, but I love the idea of planting something for the future, and hopefully I’ll get a few mulberries at some point too. Definitely go for it!

  2. We have a load of oak saplings on our land and we plan to move them so they have a chance to grow (rather than have them growing in the middle of our hay field), whether we coppice them or let them grow to full height not sure but whichever they will be around long after we have gone

  3. skybluepinkish

    Like Susan we were planting the orchard before we were even ready to move into the house! I too am so glad we did and marvel at the photographs we took as we were rebuilding, our trees were so tiny then! A lemon tree sounds beautiful and so aromatic. We have had some success with peaches and nectarines (even in County Durham!) but I’m not sure we would manage citrus.

  4. Juanita

    I do so love lemon tree blossoms!

  5. Hiya, not sure if you’ve been invited yet but would you like to join in the Earth Day Reading Project?

    Deadline 23rd April.

  6. My mulberry tree cropped at about 4 years old. it was only 5ft tall. It is now twice that height & doing well.
    My apricot set fruit for the first time last year,I think I planted it about 3/4 years ago. I had about 20 large fruit, which were delicious. It was covered in blossom this year but so far I can’t see any fruit (I think the frosts might have got them). The variety is Tomcot.
    Good luck with yours Fiona.

  7. Mulberries are not necessarily all that big when they start to flower. We left one behind in France – it was barely 5ft high and generous with its fruit. So, go for it!

  8. I will probably be an old woman by the time the olives are old and large enough to start bearing, and I’m looking forward to the first crop! (Actually, I’m looking forward to the first crop of any tree that I’ve planted: eight apples, two Italian plums, a sweet cherry, a sour cherry, a lime, a lemon (the citrus are still in pots), three almonds, and three hazelnuts, and the aforementioned olives.)

  9. When we first moved to Holly Grove 4 years ago we set about planting lots of trees: apples, pear, greengage, plum, morello cherry, crab apples, ornamental cherry…all this before we even thought of starting on the house, trees need years to grow and decorating can be done in weeks. So glad now that we made the garden a priority as this year the blossom on our trees is stunning – looking forward to the fruits in years to come. Meanwhile we enjoy fruits from two ancient apple trees and lots of damsons, thanks to other people’s tree planting many years ago.

    Go ahead and get your mulberry and enjoy!

  10. Heather

    We have 2 mulberry trees here in Sydney.They are black mulberries – Hicks Fancy I think. They are wonderful as trees and as fruit givers. They started producing fruit after just a few years and if we can get to them before the birds and possums we get a huge crop which we eat fresh from the tree or freeze for jam and pies.

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