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Fruit Gardening Tips


Month-by-month fruit gardening tips from Kathleen!

December / January Fruit Garden

Things to do:

1. Complete picking very late-maturing apples, before the hard frosts come

2. Inspect your stored fruits, and remove any rotten ones.

3. Plant new fruit when the soil conditions are suitable.

4. Prune apples, pears, and bush and cane fruits.

5. Untie lateral branches on spindle bush apple trees, which have 'set' at the required angle.

6. Check the condition of all stakes, supports and ties for trees.

7. Protect fan trained peaches and nectarines against the disfiguring fungal disease, peach leaf curl.

February Fruit Garden

Things to do:

1. Press Perry Pear Juice

2. Plant a Family Fruit Tree

3. Check that newly planted fruit bushes and trees have not been lifted by frost.

4. Hoe under fruit tree canopy, if possible, to expose pests to predators.

5. Encourage birds (especially blue tits) into garden by putting up nest boxes. They will feed on caterpillars and other pests.

6. Check stored fruit and remove any that shows signs of rotting. Leave rotten fruit out for wildlife and/or birds – this will be a welcome addition to their diet.

7. Protect wall-trained peach and nectarine trees from the rain to reduce the risk of peach leaf curl disease.

8. Check plums, damsons and gages for signs of the plum leaf-curling aphid.

9. Tip prune summer-fruiting raspberries.

10. Prune established autumn-fruiting raspberries.

11.Untie cordon trained grapevines before they come into growth.

12. Cover strawberries for an early crop with polythene tunnels or glass cloches early in the month.

13. Check blackcurrant buds for signs of big bud mite infestation

14. Protect blossom on wall-trained trees by draping with hessian, double-thickness netting or equivalent when frost is expected.

15. Enjoy the challenge of growing melons. An early sowing now will give melons a long season of growth and ripening.

16. Redcurrant and gooseberry bushes need protecting from birds – cover with netting before fruit starts to ripen.

March Fruit Garden

Things to do:

1. Finish all planting of bare-rooted trees and bushes early in the month.

2. Firm newly planted fruit trees and bushes if the frost has lifted them over the winter, but allow the ground to thaw first.

3. In March the winds can be particularly drying, it may be necessary to water fruit trees and bushes, be aware of potted trees especially those against a wall as they are prone to drying out.

4. As the soil warms up apply a mulch.

5. Start weeding around fruit trees and bushes while there are few weeds.

6. The best time to prune an established fan trained fig is early spring, after the worst of the frost has passed and just before growth starts.

7. Cobnuts and filberts should be pruned when catkins are releasing pollen if not already done in February.

8. Prune blueberries, remove one or two unproductive branches once flower buds are visible, cutting close to ground level encourages new shoots from the base.

9. Untie and retrain canes of blackberries and related fruits that have been bundled together against winter damage. Train on to wires before buds burst.

10. Prune autumn fruiting raspberries if you have not already done so.

11. Prune gooseberries now if they were left unpruned over winter.

12. Peaches flower early in the spring.

13. Wall trained trees can easily be protected from both frost and peach leaf curl with a polythene sheet covering. This can be affixed to a pole at either end of the tree which gives protection at night but can be removed during the day.

14. Sow from March to May Limnanthes Douglasii (poached egg plant) around your fruit bushes

15. Continue to cover strawberries for an early crop with polythene tunnels or glass cloches.

16. Sow alpine strawberries undercover, lightly covering the seeds with sharp sand, keep at 18-24°C.

17. Plant out new strawberry plants.

18. Boost your local population of native bees by using nest kits placed around your garden.

April Fruit Garden

Things to do:

1. Place straw underneath strawberry plants to protect the fruits from touching the soil or getting splashed with mud. Also, straw will reflect heat and help your strawberry crop ripen.

2. Water all recently planted fruit plants - trees on dwarfing rootstocks and wall-trained fruit may continue to need watering in dry weather in future years

3. Remove blossom from newly planted fruit trees - the trees will need all their energy to establish well.

4. Keep 1 square metre of ground weed-free around all fruit trees and bushes throughout their lives. Established fruit trees on vigorous rootstocks can have grass growing right up to the trunk, but otherwise grass and weeds will simply compete for food and water.

5. Begin to prepare the ground where melons will be growing.

6. Start formative pruning of new plums - invest in a good book, with diagrams to help.

7. Keep the atmosphere moist around vines growing undercover by damping down the floors on warm days, until flowering begins.

8. Start summer pruning outdoor vines by rubbing out unwanted buds and cutting the new shoots back to about 60cm (24in).

June Fruit Garden

Things to do:

1. Apply netting over ripening soft fruits. A barrier will deter birds from feasting on it. Pick fruit to eat fresh, or for juicing, jellies and jams.

2. Give fruit bushes, canes and trees a good soak if the weather has been dry for a week or more as water stress can cause fruit to drop.

3. Use a foliar spray of liquid seaweed extract to achieve fruit with enhanced colour and storage quality.

4. From June onwards, strawberry plants will start producing runners. These are thrown out from the main plant, on which miniature plants grow. If the runners are not removed the crop may be reduced. Leaving runners attached will sap the plant's energy.

5. Harvest rhubarb. However tempting, do not pull any rhubarb sticks in the first year of planting. Let the plant grow and establish a good healthy root system.

6. Loosely tie in strong new raspberry canes as they grow.

7. Train in new shoots of blackberries and hybrid berries, such as tayberries and boysenberries..

8. On wall trained peaches and nectarines rub out buds that are growing directly towards the wall. Tie in the selected shoots and thin the fruits.

9. Fan trained cherries and plums should have any shoots growing inwards towards the wall removed.

10. Remove the tips of laterals on grape vines three or four leaves beyond the developing fruit clusters.

July Fruit Garden

Things to do:

1. Thin out apple and pear fruitlets.

2. Irrigate tree, bush and cane fruit if the weather has been dry for a week or more.

3. Look after Strawberries.

4. Prepare ground for new strawberry plants.

5. Blackcurrant bushes can be partially pruned.

6. Continue training new canes of blackberries and hybrids.

7. Harvest red and white currants by pulling or snipping the strig (the long fruit cluster).

8. Continue training fan trained fruits.

9. Summer prune red and white currants and gooseberries.

10. Prune summer fruiting raspberries after all the fruit has been picked.


October Fruit Garden

Things to do:

1. Start planting new fruit immediately after leaf fall.

2. Tidy up strawberry beds and remove dead and yellowing leaves from perpetual varieties.

3. Prune blackcurrants any time between now and late winter

4. Prune gooseberries, red- and white-currants at leaf .

5. Continue to remove mulches from around fruit bushes and trees.

6. Take any hard wood cuttings of your fruit bushes after leaf fall.

7. Clear all weeds around fruit bushes and trees. Weeds aren't growing as quickly now, but many are seeding!

8. Prune any hybrid berry fruits such as loganberries and tayberries.

9. Lift and divide existing rhubarb sets and replant up until November.

10. Now is the time to gather remaining apples and pears still on the trees before the frost gets them.

11. Pick any nuts that are ripening. Cobnuts and hazelnuts are ripening when their husks begin to yellow. Store them somewhere dry to ensure a winter feast.

12. Remove netting from soft fruit and the fruit cage to attract birds. Let the birds feast on the last of the soft fruit and in return they will act as an excellent pest control as they scratch in the undergrowth.

November Fruit Garden

Things to do:

1. Continue harvesting and storing sound fruit.

2. Check tree ties, stakes and rabbit guards on fruit trees before the winter gales.

3. Begin planting fruit trees, bushes and canes as soon after leaf fall as possible.

4. It is okay to do some tidying up at this time of year, but leave a few areas undisturbed for overwintering beneficial insects and hibernating mammals.

5. Prune out blackberry canes that have fruited this year to soil level and tie new ones into their place.

6. Begin pruning grape vines, immediately after the leaves have fallen.

7. Propagate Rhubarb, by lifting a sizeable root with a spade or fork.

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