Every year I get several questions from gardeners about why their squash plants aren’t very productive. Usually it’s because they only have one squash plant and squash flowers need to be pollinated multiple times to produce viable fruits. With only one plant, your chances for success are minimized.
But something we don’t often consider is that even with plants that are self-fertile or self-pollinated, you get a much better yield if you have 2 or more plants and often 2 or more different varieties. This is true of tomatoes and peppers and many other vegetables that can self-pollinate. It’s even more apparent when you’re growing tree fruits.
That’s Nice, But Who has Room for an Orchard?
Since fruit trees take up considerable real estate, we don’t all have room for two trees of a particular fruit. Apples, pears and sweet cherries do an abysmal job of fruiting if left on their own. Sour cherries and peaches look like good alternatives. The trees are small and you only need one. But if you have the room, consider planting in pairs, for an even better harvest.
Can’t squeeze in two? You could always plant one of those multi-grafted trees with 3 or more varieties on a single trunk. Or try this trick my former neighbors did with their sweet cherry trees. They planted the young trees side by side and trained them around each other. Then they spread the trunks apart into a “V” and allowed them to grow slightly outward. Each tree has room to expand and gets plenty of sunlight. Plus they are close enough to cross pollinate easily.