Growing Your Own Fruit Trees From Seed

One of the interesting things we do here at the farm is grow fruit trees from scratch, as well as teaching other people how to do it, which is lots of fun.

Pear seed ready to be planted to grow rootstock trees
Pear seed ready to be planted to grow rootstock tree

Some trees are grown from cuttings (e.g., plums) and some are grown from seed. We usually grow our own peach, plum, pear and quince rootstocks this way.

These days we look after the Growing Abundance juice press (which in turn is on long-term loan from the generous folk at The Little Red Apple in Harcourt), which means that Ant can use it to juice his apple and pear seconds at the end of the season.

Ant pressing apples for juice
Ant pressing apples for juice

It’s a great press, and being able to juice fruit from apples grown here on the farm (in those years when there’s a good enough apple harvest) yields enough delicious organic apple juice to share around, as well as plenty for Ant to turn into cider.

Lots of lovely apple juice
Lots of lovely apple juice

But it also means we can easily save the seed to grow organic apple rootstocks. We’ve grown all the apple trees we’ve planted here on the farm that way, a tradition which is now being continued by Carr’s Organic Fruit Tree Nursery.

Regardless of whether you’re growing trees from cutting or seed, they don’t grow “true to type”. They grow trees called rootstocks, which are used as a base to graft known fruit varieties onto.

Apple pulp full of seeds
Apple pulp full of seeds

Growing your own trees is a year-round process, with different small jobs to do at different times of year – just like all gardening really! We provide a full grafting calendar in our Grow Your Own Fruit Trees for Free course.

This is the right time of year to be:

  • Gathering scion wood from varieties you want to use for grafting in spring, and storing it correctly to keep it in good condition.
  • Gathering plum cuttings and storing them in damp sand over winter.
  • Gathering seed from apples and pears, extracting the seeds and storing them in damp sand.
  • If you’re planning a tree nursery, preparing the soil.
A box of sand for storing seed
A box of sand for storing seed

Does it sound complicated? It’s really not.

Grafting is an ancient method of preserving heritage fruit varieties that has been practised for hundreds of years, and continues to be passed from fruitgrower to fruitgrower today.

Newly emerged apple seedling
Newly emerged apple seedling

We think teaching people how to grow their own fruit trees from scratch is one of the most important skills we teach (through our grafting courses) because that’s where true fruit security starts.

8 thoughts on “Growing Your Own Fruit Trees From Seed”

  1. Good morning. I understand that growing from seed won’t give me a true-to-type quality, but l would have thought cuttings would give the desired result, much like grafting? Why would a cutting not give the same result as a scion grafted? Hope you can explain to help me understand. Kind regards, Peter

    1. Cuttings will produce a plant that is true-to-type as it is a form of vegetative propagation. Seedling rootstocks have strong root systems and tend to be fairly vigorous resulting in a large tree that is slower to produce fruit than some of the smaller dwarfing rootstocks available for commercial production these days. Trees on seedling rootstocks also have a longer lifespan than modern dwarfing and semi-dwarfing rootstocks, but are usually less precocious and slower to produce fruit. Some rootstocks have a tendency to sucker and these suckers can be cut from the parent plant to produce true-to-type rootstocks, which can then be grown on and grafted with the desired scion cultivar. Commercially, rootstocks are produced by layering which produces a true-to-type rootstock. Many commercial rootstocks are grown because of their size restriction characteristics and/or disease/pest resistance.
      Hope this helps, Sally

    2. Hi Peter, you’re right – a cutting will produce a ‘true to type’ tree, but there’s a couple of reasons we don’t usually do this. For example, not all cuttings will take (whereas seedling rootstocks are more reliable), and also the variety (e.g. Golden Delicious) may not make a good rootstock tree (rootstocks are chosen for various characteristics such as size, disease resistance etc. – and the variety may not have characteristics that you want in your tree if you grow it on its own roots). Having said all that, there’s absolutely no reason not to try it yourself at home. One of the fantastic things about growing your own fruit trees and grafting is that you can experiment endlessly, for basically zero outlay. Let us know how it turns out!

  2. I’m in Hunter Valley, thank you.
    I just have lemon orange and mulberry little trees I think in pots as I have very hard clay soil. I don’t want huge trees or having roots destroying house.
    I have 2 only lemons ripening or oranges. I think lemons not much fruit I know but something.
    Want to grow veges so need to get more plants. Managed to grow cucumbers and trying to grow garlic and ginger, potatoes. Sweet potatoes. Want to grow other veges too.
    So very windy here and still very cold 30C at night and very cold during the day.
    No early reprieve from winter here
    Bbbbrŕr!!!!
    Christine

    1. Hi Christine, it sounds like you’ve got the beginnings of a great garden there! It’s possible to improve any soil – even hard clay. The trick is adding lots of organic matter (like good quality compost, for example). Best of luck with your growing.

    1. Hi Adi, glad you’ve enjoyed the post, and thanks for checking whether it’s OK to share. Yes it is, please credit us, and we’d appreciate a link back to this website as well. Thanks!

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