FRUITS

Bushes. Directions for the culture of bush fruits are given under each kind. It may generally be stated that only by intensive cultivation will the maximum yields be secured. Fruit trees trained on a trellis by the sides of the path will yield satisfactory crops. Blackberry and loganberry will thrive on arches, a rough support of poles or a fence.

The bush and cane fruits — gooseberry, currant and raspberry — are very profitable and well suited to allotments. November is the best month for planting. No time should be lost in preparing the land in good time by digging it about 2 ft. deep. It is necessary also to order the bushes so that they are delivered for planting in autumn. First-rate varieties are: blackberries — John Innes and Merton Early; raspberries — Mailing Promise and Mailing Exploit; black currants — Mendip Cross and Wellington XXX; red currants — Laxton’s Perfection ; gooseberries — Green Gem and Whinham’s Industry. Protecting the fruit from birds is important. A simple plan is to run a thread of stout black cotton from branch to branch all round the bush. The cotton being black, the birds do not easily see it and, alighting on a branch, their claws become entangled and they are so alarmed that they shun the spot for the future. The same method may be usefully applied to protect the young shoots of peas.

Another method is to dust the bushes with a mixture of quicklime and soot immediately the leaves have fallen and several times afterwards in the winter. The birds will not then touch the buds.

Yet another plan is to place on the ground beneath each bush a shallow pan kept filled with water. If the birds have free access to water which they can drink and splash about in without danger, they will sometimes refrain from attacking the buds for their moisture. The same also applies to the ravages made by birds on ripe fruit.

Trees. Under the several fruits, e.g. apple, pear and plum, general directions are given which gardeners can follow to satisfaction, but for fuller details of management, etc. books specially devoted to fruit growing will afford a wider range of specialist information.

Plant in autumn wherever possible, and in any case before the end of March; plant firmly, stake strongly before putting in the young tree.

Spread out roots planting to the depth indicated by the nursery soil mark on the stem.

Grease-band fruit trees during September, also supporting stakes.

Do not grow vegetables, particularly the brassicas, between fruit trees.

Fruit trees should be sprayed with insecticides to reduce the plague of pests, and/or fungicides to prevent disease attacks. The various pests and diseases most likely to worry the gardener are described under each fruit.

Remember that fruit trees are there for years of growth; therefore allow adequate room for a start, not less then 15 ft. between, each way.

Pruning:

On the matter of pruning see under individual fruits, but some general notes may here be useful. In regard to the summer pruning of cordons: in July shorten each lateral to within say 4 — 6 leaves of its base to cause the sap to act on the remaining stipulary ‘eyes’ or buds, so that they may plump up, and some may next year form fruiting buds, particularly the lower or basal ones, where the wood is more robust. After this summer pruning, the ‘eyes’ at the tips will push forth fresh secondary growths in a further effort to extend the main side shoots. Do not prune all of any one cordon at the same time; do it gradually over a space of 10 days and thus prevent a setback in growth. Start with the well-developed shoots. Very soon those growths lagging behind will catch up, and these in turn may receive attention. Another time-hint is to do the pears before the apples.

When summer pruning, the leaders must not be done, but in the autumn when attending to the side shoots, the sappy growth may be cut and the length of each leader halved.

Autumn pruning may go ahead when the leaves of fruit trees have fallen. Those on walls need attention first. The general practice in pruning apple and pear trees is to shorten the side shoots to within 2 — 3 buds of the base of the past summer’s growth and to reduce the length of the leading shoots.

The pruning of fruit trees follows the following general procedure. Nearly all fruit trees would bear heavier crops of better fruit if more branches were cut away, particularly from the middle of the trees, to let in more air and sunshine. The chief pruning of fruit trees is done in autumn after leaf fall. The leading shoots which extend the main branches are cut back by one-third or even one-half if they are not vigorous, and the long side shoots are pruned to 4 — 5 buds from the base. Shoots which are short and possess fruit buds need no pruning. It is easy to distinguish between blossom or fruit buds and wood buds. The former are large, somewhat rounded and conspicuous; the latter small, pointed and pressed closely against the shoots. To improve set of next year’s branches prune just above a bud that points outwards, for this helps to keep the middle of the tree free from useless and hindering branches. Apple, pear, plum and sweet cherry are each pruned in much the same way, but plum and cherry are most satisfactory when pruning is light. To free fruit trees from gum, scrape it off and then wash with a mixture of horse manure, clay and tar. Tar-oil winter wash will remove moss from fruit trees. Burning the prunings of fruit trees and ornamental trees and shrubs is also a wise proceeding, as the ashes provide small amounts of potash.

The Lorctte system for pruning fruit trees broadly consists of an intensive summer pruning to stimulate the more vigorous production and development of fruit buds. In April or May the leading or extension shoots are pruned, and later, some time during June to August, according to district, type of fruit tree and particular varieties, the new wood, as it approaches a ripe condition, is hard pruned. The appropriate time is when the wood is of pencil thickness and just over half-ripe. It is contended that these operations (which are fully detailed in a book on the subject) direct the sap definitely to the development and strengthening of buds, thus considerably speeding up the production and maturing of fruit. The Lorette system gave excellent results with pears in France, but is not widely employed in this country, although it can be followed in warm districts with low autumn rainfall. In other areas it seems to stimulate secondary growth which fails to ripen properly before the onset of winter. See other fruit-pruning hints under APPLES.

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