I have fond memories of summers spent at my grandparent's orange ranch when I was a kid. My little urban yard doesn't compare, but I have big plans to cram as much fruit onto the property as possible. In my research, I came across this idea of high-density planting where you put two, three or even four trees in the same hole (or very close together). While this might sound counter-intuitive, read on for the full scoop.
Dave Wilson, who runs a nursery bearing his name, explains that most of our common knowledge about growing fruit comes from commercial producers. Most home growers aren't going to have a 12 foot ladder to prune and pick fruit with, much less have 400 square feet or more per tree.
What Dave suggests is high density planting for successive ripening. What this means is growing your fruit trees much closer together (as close as 18 inches with diligent pruning). Though one thing to keep in mind is that in such close quarters, it's a good idea to plant trees with similar root stock (your local nursery can help you sort this out).
To read more about what you should do in the first four years of your personal orchard, check out Dave's site, where he'll explain the ins and outs of aggressive pruning to maintain size and maximize yield, as well as water conservation tips.
(Image: Garden With Lotus)