The Best Crab Apples for Jelly

Not only do ornamental crab apples (Malus) make perfect decorative garden trees but their fruits can be used to produce the most wonderful jellies despite their very astringent taste if eaten raw! Continue reading

Renovating & Restoring Neglected Fruit Trees

Many people move to new homes where the previous owners or even the builders had planted fruit trees. In pre-war years there was often an emphasis on providing new homeowners with two fruit trees – an eating apple and a cooking apple. The reality is that these trees usually get left unpruned or get hacked about as the garden owners have no time or knowledge to manage the trees. The results of this neglect are either small trees, part dying through branch suffocation or large, unfruitful trees that are completely out of control and are an unsightly mess. And, of course, quite a few gardeners plant fruit trees themselves only to lose control of them very quickly…. this is where I often take over as much of my business nowadays involves restoring old orchards and garden grown fruit trees. Continue reading

The Benefits of using Mycorrhizal Fungi when Planting

Mycorrhizal fungi originated at least 460 million years ago and played a key role in the evolution of plant life as we know it. However it has only been over the last 20 years that gardeners have started to understand the important  role they play in healthy plant development and the ways in which they can be used to boost plant health and vitality. Continue reading

Exhibiting Fruit at Your Local Show

On this occasion I am not writing about growing fruit but asking you the following question – have you ever taken part in your allotment show or local horticultural society show? If you haven’t I am hoping that during the next few paragraphs I am going to be able to persuade you to have a try and at the same time I will suggest a few tips on how to best show off your produce and win a first prize. I’m writing this both as a regular exhibitor and judge. Continue reading

Growing Fruit Under Glass

Many gardeners that I come across have a greenhouse of some type and generally it seems that it is used for growing plants such as tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and maybe melons. Indeed, one of my two greenhouses does just that! But there are alternative, fruity uses to consider which, if simple rules are followed, can be very productive. Continue reading

Growing Cherries in the Garden

Not so long ago the thought of growing cherries in the garden or allotment other than as one big tree was simply a fantasy. Likewise, commercial cherry growers were finding life very difficult with their orchards of big trees and many of them gave up. Large swathes of the UK simply stopped growing this wonderful fruit. The major problem was the height of the trees which made picking very difficult and expensive as agricultural wages increased, plus the desire of large populations of birds to consume the crops before they could be picked. Continue reading

Winter Pruning Fruit Trees

The only fruit trees that should be pruned in the winter months are apples, pears, quince and medlar. Stone fruits – plums, gages, damsons, cherries, apricots, peaches, nectarines and sweet almonds – must never be pruned in the dormant season (October to March) to prevent possible ingress of diseases such as bacterial canker and silverleaf. Continue reading

Growing Apricots

Despite opinions to the contrary apricots can be grown in the open garden or allotment although in the colder parts of the country they are best grown under glass or a polytunnel. Before I go any further I should warn you that apricots are similar to other stone fruits in that their quality diminishes quite rapidly from the moment that they are picked and as a result they are best eaten direct from the tree although they will store for a few days – however, I can promise you that a freshly picked apricot still warm from the sun tastes absolutely nothing like those that you buy in the shops! In any case remember that apricots are good for you and that is a very real excuse for growing at least one tree! Continue reading