By JUDE NJOKU
Daily consumption of fruits is recommended by doctors and nutritionists for individuals who want to stay healthy. But most people, particularly those in the urban areas, do not have access to these fruits. Apart from the high cost of procuring them, some of the fruits sold in the open market in the cities, instead of aiding good living, constitute health hazards. Allegations are rife that some unscrupulous fruit vendors apply unwholesome chemicals like carbides to aid the ripening of their fruits.
But is it possible to have an orchard in a home with very small space? The answer is yes. A Lagos -based horticulturist, Mr Ifeanyi Amaeshi explained that it is possible to have an orchard in a small piece of land. What is required is proper space management and the right choice of fruit species that would be planted. Mr Amaeshi was emphatic when he stated that lack of space is not and should never be a limiting factor when it comes to creating your own orchard. This is because most fruit trees will happily grow in containers. This implies that the size of the plant can be restricted, so it will crop more quickly. Harvesting container-grown plants is also easy as they rarely grow above head height.
You can buy fruit trees that are grafted on different rootstocks so that the ultimate size of the tree can be selected to suit your garden. With some research and advice from specialist nurseries, even the smallest orchard contributes to conserving heritage fruit varieties and will give you generous crops of tasty produce.
Mr Amaeshi said those who want to have an orchard in the homes should ensure they have top soil and manure that will aid the growth of the seedling. “You can start with just a few fruit trees and grow more as times goes on. You should have fruit species like mangoes, citrus such as grapes, oranges, lemon, avocado pears, pineapples, guava, apples and wharf cocoanuts to mention but a few. You can also plant cash crops in your orchard,” the horticulturist explained.
Another main feature of a home orchard, according to Mr Amaeshi is for it to have a comfortable place to sit to enjoy some of the fruits you pluck. “You should endeavour to grow the fruits that you love to eat,” he said.
Trees may not produce if they are not properly pollinated, or may get bigger than the space you gave them to grow in. If the conditions are not adequate, the trees planted may grow poorly or even die.
Orchard planning takes a bit of time, but it will pay off in the end. It’s a good idea to draw out your plan to scale on a sheet of paper or a computer.