What’s a Fruit Salad Tree?
Can an orange, lemon and lime grow together on one tree? How about a peach, plum and apricot? Kerry West from Rollands Plains explains the wonder of her Fruit Salad Trees.
Little Money, Big Dreams
Kerry and James West were struggling to provide for their young family when a plum tree and an ambitious experiment came to the rescue. The Wests had moved to the country and wanted to plant fruit tress but didn’t have enough money to spare. Armed with a little information and a small grafting tool, James approached the lone plum tree in the family’s backyard. He made 30 incisions and spliced 30 shoots. Much to James and Kerry’s surprise, 29 were successful.
“We couldn’t believe it!” Kerry says. “Once friends and neighbours saw what we’d done, they wanted multi grafted trees of their own.”
The Wests began to sell their wonderous fruit trees at markets in Tamworth and Armidale. They learned to grow them in pots then took them along to their Saturday stalls, winning over sceptical customers.
The Fruit Salad Trees got their big break in Gardening Australia magazine and increased in popularity from there. The multi grafted citrus, stone fruit and apple trees are available to buy in many different combinations. Australia Post delivers them all over the country while Mid North Coast locals can pick up their orders from Telegraph Point.
Read the Instructions
Kerry says it has been a challenge to educate some buyers. They think the trees can be planted then left to their own devices, but special care is needed.
“You must make sure that one or two of the grafts don’t dominate,” Kerry explains. “So, if one starts to grow faster than the other, we tell you to cut it back – we call that balancing the tree.”
Much to the grower’s delight, the trees produce fruit quickly. But Kerry notes there’s a caveat.
“The little piece that we’ve grafted into this root stock tree has come from a mature tree,” she says. “But it still thinks it’s on the older tree and wants to produce fruit straight away.”
“However, we know it’s not really ready, which is why you have to take the first fruits off and allow it to develop its own branch work.”
Kerry describes her four children as the backbone of the Fruit Salad Trees operation. From an early age, they learnt the process and spent an hour a day working in the nursery. Both Kerry and James are clearly grateful for the support of their now adult children who are still involved in the business. Families all over the country will be able to experience the wonder of Fruit Salad Trees for many years to come.
Not far from the West’s farm, you’ll find the Masters of Fresh. Learn all about their homegrown organics here.