Friday, 22 June 2007


The summer sunshine was ideal for fruit growing. Some fruit was knocked back a bit because of the lack of water. The content of fruit is mainly water so if they are deprived of this then problems arise. I saw indications of erratic watering recently on some apple and pear trees. The fruit had been dry for a while then when the sudden rains came the fruit expanded and the skins split. It isn’t just apples and pears that are affected by this. Tomatoes are very sensitive to irregular watering and their skins split very easily. After a very short space of time bacteria sets in and the fruit becomeq inedible. The secret is to keep a constant supply of water to the fruit trees and bushes even if they have been established for a few years


Water fruit trees and bushes in dry weather. Large established trees shouldn’t need any extra water – but fruit on a very dwarfing rootstock, and trained fruit, particularly when trained against a wall, may well do. If your fruit tree is not already mulched after watering lay a thick mulch of organic matter around it. This will help retain moisture and suppress weeds.

Containers: Don’t forget that container grown fruit relies on you for nearly all of its water supply. Water daily, even when it rains, as rain can bounce off leaves rather than soaking the soil. If you are going to be away for a few days, move containers into the shade, if practical, to reduce water loss.

Peaches: If you are lucky enough to grow wall-trained peaches and nectarines in the conservatory, prune them immediately they have fruited. Cut out the shoots that have borne fruit, and any dead wood. Tie in replacement shoots.

Reduce fungal diseases: Prune plum and damson trees after fruiting. Cut out any material that is dead or diseased. Pruning plums at the correct time of year will minimise the risk of infection by fungal diseases. Vigorous growth in the summer reduces the chances of spores of this disease gaining entry through pruning cuts

Blackberries: Continue training new canes of blackberries. Watch out for thorns! Train the young shoots to wires against a fence or wall in one direction and the older fruiting canes in the opposite direction. Tie in with twine. This method makes picking and pruning simple.

Blackcurrants: Prune blackcurrants any time between now and late winter. Remove up to one third of the bush each year, cutting out the darkest, oldest wood in favour of young growth, which will bear most fruit next year. Start with low growing shoots to prevent next year's fruit from dragging on the ground. Overall, aim to maintain an upright shape and open habit in the centre.

Apples and pears: Harvest early apples and pears. A reliable way of telling if a fruit is ripe or not is to cup the fruit in your hand and twist it gently. If it is ripe the fruit will fall into your hand. If not leave on the tree to ripen further. Early crops of apples and pears do not store for long so are best enjoyed not long after picking.

Raspberries: Continue pruning summer fruiting raspberries. Cut out the canes that have borne fruit this summer and tie in the canes that have grown this year. Any new canes that are weak should be cut out, rather than tied in, as it is unlikely that they will bear much fruit.

Trained fruit: Prune trained fruit trees now. Cordon apple and pear trees need to have side growths from the main stem cut back to 8cm. The shoots that were cut in the same way last year will have produced side shoots. Prune these back to 2.5cm. Summer pruning encourages fruit bearing spurs for next year. Prune esplaier and fan-trained trees in the same way.

Finish off: Finish off summer pruning of cordon and fan trained gooseberries and redcurrants.


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