Growing Fruit Trees in Containers

ClissAT

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Several members have asked about growing their fruit trees in containers or pots.
Today I have been watching a TV show about baroque palaces, chateau and grand estates in Europe.
One thing they all have in common is their beautiful baroque partaire gardens and Orangeries.
Versailles has the biggest and grandest Orangery in the world.
It was customary to grow the Spanish citrus trees in containers so they could be protected from snow in winter.
Everyone wanted their orange marmalade!
Many of the trees shown in the following websites and in photos I took, are around the 300year old age!
Considering how small the pots are, it is a feat of garden know-how that they are so healthy.
However it just shows it is possible to grow pretty much any plant in a 750-800mm(30-36inch) cubed container.
I took one photo showing a man standing among the pots to give comparison and dimension for the pots and tree sizes.

If you wish to learn more, I suggest your local library where you will find or be able to order old gardening books on baroque gardens or specifically Orangeries. Otherwise google and wiki are your friends!

Read these following websites and investigate the links contained within to see many examples of gardening in containers!

HetLoo palace is in Holland

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Het_Loo_Palace

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orangery

https://www.gardenvisit.com/gardens/palais_het_loo

Of course we all know where the grand Palace of Versailles is!

http://en.chateauversailles.fr/discover/estate/gardens

http://en.chateauversailles.fr/discover/estate/gardens/orangery

Orangery at Het Loo Palace in Holland
These trees pictured are reportedly 300 years old.
HetLoo orangery 1.jpg

Versailles Orangery. Date on bottom of pot shows age of
tree. Also pots are wooden slats (t&g)
Versailles Orangery 2.jpg Versailles Orangery 3.jpg Versailles Orangery 4.jpg

Versailles Orangery 5.jpg Versailles Orangery 6.jpg Versailles Orangery 8.jpg
This pomegranate above
is 300yo
 
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ClissAT

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In the beginning they would have used soil or sand to grow the trees in.
Or maybe even brought in soil from the region the tree came from originally, ie Spain!

However these days they would make specific potting mix which would be changed every couple of yrs I guess.

Many years ago I was part of a crew that changed the mix in large pots.
We used a crane to tip the pot on its side on a sort of table at our waist height.
We scooped out as much soil from around the sides so the root ball would slide out.
We used special tools rather like oversized bonsai tools to scrape soil off the root ball.
Then reduced the root ball by around half. Just enough new mix was placed into the pot as it lay on its side so the plant would slide back in, then more packed around.
Finally the pot was stood back up using the crane and remaining mix packed in to fill the pot.

I use a similar technique to repot my roses every few years although they are only in 400mm square pots.
When I was considering digging up all my fruit trees and placing them in IBC containers, I had to think about how I would handle them alone in years to come when they needed root pruning or new mix. The IBC containers with their metal cages are robust so could withstand tipping onto their side for the job.
However standing them back up would require the help of the tractor, particularly once the tree got a bit big and top heavy.

I would say the blue wooden slat pots used at Versailles come apart completely. To my eye it looks like they have metal straps around them and the VJ boards probably fall apart once the straps are unbolted. But it also looks like part of the pot construction is a metal pallet as can be seen in the photo showing the year. The pallet has metal corner posts with knobs on the top to facilitate lifting with a crane. I bet they use a big forklift to manueaver the pots onto their sides these days! Or place a sling around the base of the trunk and simply lift the tree out to work on its root zone and empty the pot.

The gardening books you find at the library should tell you about fertilizer type and frequency, as well as watering. They would be kept a bit on the dry side but given fertigation rather than many doses of fertilizer. So the set up might be akin to hydroponics in a composted bark fines medium or a clay ball based medium with sand.

Depending on whether they want to grow flowers around the base of the tree or not.
 
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