Growing fruit trees in containers

In total we have about 30 fruit trees scattered around the allotments and the front and back garden. This video is about the handful of them that are growing in containers.

Containers constrain the roots of the trees and as a result restrict the growth of the tree, beyond what would be expected with the dwarfing root stock they are grafted onto.

I’m particularly fond of the cherries, because even though the trees are old and unhealthy we’ve loved being able to open the kitchen door and pick fresh cherries.

We don’t normally net all of our cherry trees, we rely on the local cats to deter the birds a little and we also pick the cherries a little early, when the are crisp and sweet, but not quite red enough to attract the birds attention.

If you have questions, we have a FAQ document and video, which you can find here: https://steves.seasidelife.com/2020/01/20/allotmentfaq/

If you are new to my allotment videos you might find a bit of context useful. We live in the north west of England, in Lytham St Annes, which I believe is the equivalent of USA Zone 8. Fairly mild, but very windy.

For more details on the databases that I use to manage my allotment, check out these two blog posts https://steves.seasidelife.com/category/airtable/

We have three allotments in my family, mine (Steve), my wife’s (Debbie) and my middle daughter’s (Jennie). We also have a small kitchen garden at home. They are all managed in an integrated fashion, so don’t expect to see the usual mix of veg on each plot. I do most of the planning and seed starting. We each have our own plots, but we all help each other out.

Jennie’s plot has been designed as a traditional allotment, but we put a lot of focus on minimising the work we do there. It’s basically a plant and forget it plot, full of garlic, leeks, onions, beetroot, brassicas, squash, beans and fruit trees. It’s heavily mulched to reduce weeds and to reduce the need water.

Debbie’s plot is mostly full of perennials, it’s an ornemental plot. Again we did a lot of work to keep the weeds down and Debbie’s approach is inspired by the TV programme The Ornamental Kitchen garden.

My plot is all about experimental growing, maximum productivity and year round abundance. As with all of the other plots I did a lot of work to control the weeds, but it’s a high maintenance plot. I’m always planting, harvesting, experimenting and generally having a great time.

Collectively the plots deliver an amazing abundance of fruit and veg all year round. Debbie, Jennie, Jon and I are effectively self sufficient in veg all year round and in fruit for much of the year. During winter we sometimes have enough surplus to feed our local family. During the rest of the year when the surplus from our house garden comes on stream we have surpluses in some crops for quite a few friends as well.

This video provides an overview:

I do an update of the allotments, roughly twice a month, you can find the tours here:

Our approach to allotment life is to: grow as much as we possibly can, to be self-sufficient in veg all year round and in fruit in season, to give away our surplus to friends and family, and to have as much fun as possible. For more on self sufficiency check out these videos:

We are not slaves to gardening though, I spend about 14 hours a week on the plots (on average) Debbie and Jennie a lot less. We keep nudging that down as we eliminate non-productive work: like grass cutting, weeding and watering as much as practical. We are both newbie gardeners, only starting the allotments in 2016.

I’m a bit obsessive about the nutrient density of the veg that we grow and making the plots easy to work because it’s through this allotment lifestyle and food that I’ve overcome a debilitating auto-immune disease.

I’m always aware though that it might not last so I make sure that I don’t work too hard, eat as much organic fruit and veg I can and design the plots so that I can still work them when I flare up.

34 Comments

  1. Gardening with Ramzan on April 7, 2021 at 11:49 pm

    Wow…it’s Amazing cherry 🍒🍒 tree….

  2. Bigmaude31 on April 7, 2021 at 11:49 pm

    Steve, I asked a question about a week ago about your dealing with pests and your backyard fruit trees. I figured you missed it because you are very prompt in responding. If you have another video on it, please point me to it. Thanks 😁

  3. Niki in the mountains on April 7, 2021 at 11:52 pm

    Is it possible to try container planting regular cherry trees that are not dwarf? Thank you for the great video!

  4. Cherie K on April 7, 2021 at 11:52 pm

    I’ve just taken delivery of a duo pear tree. Two varieties on one trunk. It will be interesting to see how it performs over the years

  5. Mark Shaw on April 7, 2021 at 11:53 pm

    Great video never new u could grow them in containers

  6. Tall Cedars on April 7, 2021 at 11:55 pm

    Hi Steve. This is a good idea to plant trees in large tall bins, it gave me a way for starting our trees here on the 56th latitude where we have 6 months of freezing winters. They can be brought in as they establish themselves and be planted out when stronger. It’s something I will try with a nanking cherry bush as I really miss those fruits. Will also keep mice from chewing the bark off young trees. We lost apple trees to them so I gave up. But you have me looking forward to success with fruit trees, without feeding the mice.

  7. Ron Valente on April 7, 2021 at 11:58 pm

    We had a Victoria plum for many years in the ground, two years ago it got a disease so I had to get rid of it, we both love plums and we were looking to grow a couple of Dwarf plum trees in pots, have you tried growing them in pots Steve? any advice would be good!

  8. Carlos Zheng on April 7, 2021 at 11:59 pm

    Thank you for sharing. It’s a great idea for someone like me move frequently.

  9. jo wilde on April 7, 2021 at 11:59 pm

    Hi steve i am in Lytham and you have given me some inspiration to grow some fruit trees as i do not have land space to put thèm in the ground. Can i ask do u buy the marshalls manure on line and do you think a plum tree would be suitable to grow in on of the galvanised bins?

  10. This Family of 7 with a Vlog on April 8, 2021 at 12:01 am

    What size are the galvanized containers to grow your fruit trees?

  11. kmeredith2009 on April 8, 2021 at 12:01 am

    Fantastic video.

  12. BACKYARD GARDENER on April 8, 2021 at 12:05 am

    Hi Steve new here. I’m really enjoying your channel

  13. catarinafouto on April 8, 2021 at 12:05 am

    Hi, thank you for this video, just what I needed! I wanted to ask whether you considered insulating the containers in any way? I see another subscriber asked a question regarding the metal overheating in the summer – which my worry if I go down the route of having plastic containers this big. Also, how do you know that the metal will not leak chemicals into the fruit? That is my main concern with buying metal containers. Many thanks for your reply, and for your videos. I always learn a lot! <3

  14. Thomas N on April 8, 2021 at 12:06 am

    Thank you Steve: my question is that did you have to drill many holes in the bottom for water drainage ? Thank again.

  15. jj on April 8, 2021 at 12:07 am

    Great video, thanks! I’m experimenting with fig trees in containers.

  16. shamaila Fazal on April 8, 2021 at 12:12 am

    Hi Steve, have you thought about damson tree in a container? Would that work? In partial sun?

  17. Alexandre Wiborg on April 8, 2021 at 12:15 am

    Thanks for the video, Steve.

  18. jill e on April 8, 2021 at 12:19 am

    Hi Steve – I have a beautiful fig tree in a smallish pot – this year it’s flourishing even my neighbours have commented 🌞

  19. Mayank Vankawala on April 8, 2021 at 12:20 am

    What is the diameter and height of the containers you have used on the cherry trees?

  20. Matthew Sherriff on April 8, 2021 at 12:21 am

    I have just started my collection of fruit trees, my plan is to keep them in fabric grow bags, so its good to see trees that have survived in containers long term producing fruit

  21. Wonders of Wini on April 8, 2021 at 12:23 am

    Great video. I live in rented accommodation and always wanted to have fruit trees and this is an excellent idea as I can take them with me if I move. Thank you.

  22. Bernadette on April 8, 2021 at 12:24 am

    Wow thank you for sharing, I have 2 cherry tress, one is quite big. I’m trying to net them this year as the birds usually eat them on me.

  23. Glen Betts on April 8, 2021 at 12:26 am

    Hi Steve, really useful video. My three Yr old apple tree gives one apple a year. Will try refreshing the soil as per your video.

  24. Amanda J on April 8, 2021 at 12:27 am

    Hi, are they any particular rootstock? Thank you

  25. Adam Lomas on April 8, 2021 at 12:28 am

    Are these dwarf trees or ordinary fruit tree?

  26. ben on April 8, 2021 at 12:29 am

    Thanks Steve – those trees look great. How often do you water the blueberries? Ben

  27. Harambe on April 8, 2021 at 12:30 am

    3:13 i think you could get these out without damaging the roots, just cut the metal or use a long flat spatula all around the outside, it will be tricky but deffo doable

  28. Hayley Kenyon on April 8, 2021 at 12:31 am

    Hi loved the video as this is what I plan to do 🙂 Where do you purchase the gaalvanised bins from please? what is the shopping list so to speak I need? where do I purchase the fruit from thannk you x

  29. Ronald Shaw's - Car Park Growing Area on April 8, 2021 at 12:32 am

    👍👍👍 A great fruit update video Steve, Take care and Stay safe.

  30. Bigmaude31 on April 8, 2021 at 12:33 am

    Hi Steve, I hope my fruit trees become as productive as yours. I planted some last year and some this year, so no fruit yet. Most are dwarfs and are in containers. I also have two muscadine vines that are showing signs of producing a good yield. Do you have problem with squirrels, chipmunks, and birds getting after your fruit? If so, what do you do? I would like to enjoy at least some of my fruit. My neighbor has an apple tree that produced apples for the first time in 10 years last year. He got not a one. The squirrels got them all.

  31. Mark Irish on April 8, 2021 at 12:33 am

    Thank you for the great information. Best wishes from Ireland 🇮🇪and a very happy Christmas

  32. Life In Florida on April 8, 2021 at 12:38 am

    Something about picking your own fruit ….nice trees , thanks for sharing !

  33. Geriann Roth on April 8, 2021 at 12:38 am

    Awww I absolutely love your garden

  34. Geriann Roth on April 8, 2021 at 12:46 am

    Love this idea I’m doing something similar by planting in washing machine drums the holes allow air pruning of the roots & They also double to allow heat to quickly dissipate from the steel

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