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Two Pears Trees Planted in a Single Hole


Last month I joined Noah Sanders at a community garden, where I gave a talk on Alabama gardening and orchards. We also spent a good bit of time pruning and shaping up the garden’s neglected fruit trees.

While going about our pruning, I found a double pear tree, with two trunks right next to each other. They looked a little too far apart to have split from one. As I was looking at it, I remarked to Noah, “This looks like two trees were planted in one hole.”

Then an older gentleman chimed in. “Yep, that was my fault.”

He introduced himself as Jim Crook and said he’d been helping in the garden for a long time.

I asked him if he double-planted the pears on purpose and he laughed.

“No. I was out here planting bare root trees and had a couple left. It started raining, so I just stuck them both in the hole I’d just dug, meaning to get back to them and take one out later. But I never did and they grew up together.”

We figured out from the plaques around the garden that this pair of trees was most likely planted in 2011.

Jim told me that one of them was a Kieffer, and the other was an Orient.

In the past, I’ve written about how you can plant more than one tree in a hole (and shot down some snotty “scientists” who say you shouldn’t).

I’ve also posted videos on it.

Jim’s accidental double pear tree proves that you can fit two trees into a single space and they’ll grow just fine.

Sure, you won’t get as much yield, since they’ll curtail each other’s production somewhat; however, you do get two varieties that will pollinate each other without having to dedicate as much yard space to fruit production. If you have a tight space to work with, multi-planting fruit trees makes a lot of sense.

You can do a lot more with trees than you think. Just because something has a “maximum height” listed on the label, it doesn’t mean it needs to get that big. You can prune potentially massive Ficus trees into hedges, and you can grow mango trees in pots. You can make pear trees short enough to step over, and you can train a key lime tree to a wall many miles north of its growing zone.

We use multiple methods to keep trees small in our Grocery Row Gardening system.

Ann Ralph also covers plenty of good information in her book Grow a Little Fruit Tree.

Go out and experiment. Don’t get hung up on whether it’s the “proper” way to grow something. Jim’s pear planting “failure” became a great demonstration of what is possible.

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