APRICOT

Where garden space is limited, this fruit is of doubtful value. Apricots are grown as fan-trained trees against a south or south-west wall. They are budded or grafted on to common mussel. Since apricots flower earlier than other fruits (in February) they should be covered with fish netting or similar material if frost seems likely during the flowering period.

A well-drained, fairly rich soil which does not dry out readily in hot weather and with a reasonable lime content, is desirable. Copious supplies of water are vital during dry periods. Plant not less than 15 ft. apart.

Hard pruning must be avoided as it may lead to dieback. Prune during the growing season, shortening any misplaced side shoots to within 3 buds of the base and do the same to all secondary shoots. Apricots fruit on short natural spurs which should not be removed.

When the fruits are about the size of a hazelnut, remove the smallest.

Thin again when they are about the size of small walnuts leaving one fruit to each 5 in. of branch.

New Large Early (which ripens in July) and Moorpark (late August) are good varieties.

Aphids are sometimes troublesome. They can be tackled by spraying with a gamma-BHC (lindane) insecticide. Dieback is possibly caused by unsuitable soil conditions, or even hard pruning, although the precise reasons are still obscure.

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