Grow a Little Fruit Tree by Ann Ralph

Grow a little Fruit Tree is a very comprehensive and beautifully presented guide to pruning techniques for keeping trees under 6′ tall. This makes for better fruit that is easier to pick and adds fullness to a garden space. The core of the techniques is to trim the main branch to encourage lateral growing but there is quite a bit of other information presented as well including historical and personal perspectives. But this is a book for those starting gardens and not applicable/usable for older growth trees (though there is good information about aesthetic trimming, etc. for more mature vegetation).

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The book breaks down as follows: Introduction, Small is beautiful, The short fruit tree method, The conversation begins: the hardest pruning cut you’ll ever have to make, the conversation continues, How much water does a fruit tree need?, The elementary principles of pruning, Choosing varieties, The fruit tree comes home, Working with mother nature, Ripe fruit, Entering the zone of equilibrium, Appendix.

The book is very well thought out with many images and graphical elements. One might assume they were there to take up space but there is a LOT of information about fruit trees in this book.  I was surprised and then daunted by how much there is to read on the subject. But it wasn’t a dreary read either; the author is friendly and informative and clearly very much loves what she does.

The chronology of the book is as follows: encouraging you to understand the benefits of smaller trees, getting over the fear of pruning, selecting, transporting, replanting, rearing your trees, and then specifics such as the various fruit tree types and how to care for them.

Because of the beautiful layout and breadth of subject matter, this is an easy recommendation for any gardener, regardless of location. I rate 4 out of 5 stars due to some lingering questions (any way to prevent root suckers?) and because the techniques really are only for newly planted fruit trees (there’s not much that can be done with older trees so this isn’t a book intended for mature gardens).

Reviewed from an ecopy provided by the publisher.

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