CARING FOR FRUIT TREES

With smaller trees being provided by nurserymen today, every garden can allocate space for at least one ‘top fruit’ variety to give fresh fruit to enjoy through autumn and winter.

PLANTING

Remember the tree will be in the ground for years to come so that is is essential to provide a handful of ‘bone meal’ or ‘growmore’ and a shovel full of peat to give the plant a good start to its life.

Dig a hole large enough for all the root system and plant the tree to the same depth as it was in the nursery. Water in well, particularly if planting during dry weather, and stake all trees, even bush varieties, making sure they are tied firmly with two or three ties. DO NOT USE STRING, WIRE, ETC.

Remember – For fruit production most varieties need a pollinator.

PRUNING

Apples, Pears. Bush varieties – These are on dwarf rootstocks which give a compact tree but with large amounts of fruit. Prune in winter months in order to encourage fruit bud formation on lateral side growths. This is best done by cutting out older wood, and leaving the centre of the tree open to allow light to penetrate. Also remove weak shoots and crossed branches to avoid rubbing.

Standards and half-standards – As for bush varieties, but remove any growth from below the head.

Espalier – Always prune to an upward pointing bud. Remove the central leader, and shorten current year’s growth by half.

Cordons – Cut central leader by half, and reduce lateral growth to within 6-9 ins of main stem.

Plums, Damsons, Greengage. Normally carried out after harvest, when old shoots should be removed, long straggly branches cut back and general thinning to ensure that the tree is not overcrowded.

SPRAYING

Always adopt the method that it is easier to prevent than cure. This can be done by spraying early as the flower buds are developing, against the major pests and diseases (aphids and mildew), and continuing at fortnightly intervals through the season. Use any well-known spray for pests and diseases.

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