Apple 'Charles Ross'

Planting a Traditional Orchard

Growing top fruit, particularly apples and pears, is a particular joy and this can easily be done at home or in the allotment by using a combination of cordons, espaliers or stepovers. However, if room is available, why not consider the more traditional approach of an orchard of apples and pears using semi-dwarfing rootstocks? By planting such trees a fair distance apart – say 3m (10ft) – you will be able to have grass pathways with the promise of picnicking under the trees in years to come! Using the rootstock M26 for apples and Quince A for pears, trees can be kept to a maximum height of around – 2.4-3.6m (8-12ft) and this is exactly what I have done in three ‘community’ orchards that I have designed and planted. I reckon that if you can find space for at least five trees you have yourself an orchard! Continue reading

Morello cherry will grow well on a north facing wall.

Fruit Trees & Bushes for Problem Places

Unfortunately many gardeners do not have what they perceive should be ideal growing conditions in their gardens and therefore quite often do not grow anything useful in what might seem to be the most challenging places. This is very unfortunate as almost anywhere in the garden can grow plants well except, perhaps, very dry and very dark places. And from my fruit growing perspective I can advise you that fruit can be grown almost anywhere in your garden other than the two places I have just noted. Continue reading

Cordons are ideal where space is limited. They can be planted as vertical cordons or at a 45 degree angle and trained against a wall, fence or on supporting wires.

The Best Cooking Apples to Grow

Most countries have a collection of apple cultivars which they cook or eat as they see fit but the British chose to distinguish between those which adorned the tables of sumptuous dinner parties and those which finished in the kitchen for cooking purposes. This has ensured that we now have a rich vein of cooking apples which can be used for apple tarts, apple pies, baked apples etc., and those to be enjoyed especially for their unique flavour and colour. Continue reading

The first flowers will appear 2 to 4 weeks after planting coldstored strawberry plants.

Strawberries in 60 Days

Traditionally new strawberry beds were planted from fresh dug ‘runners’ whether taken from your own plants or purchased as bare root plants in October/November from a specialist nursery. Fresh dug runners are still widely planted but the drawback is that they are only available in October/November when the ground may not be in a particularly fit state for planting. The modern way to establish a new strawberry bed is to plant in the spring/early summer using coldstored (frozen) runners. Coldstored runners are lifted in the winter when fully dormant and held at -1.8 degrees centigrade until required for planting. Once dormancy is broken by planting out in warm soils the plants will grow away very quickly and can produce a good crop within 60 days. Indeed this is how 99% of commercial growers now grow their strawberries. Continue reading

Choosing Apples & Pears to Plant

With the onset of autumn we can now turn our minds to what new apple and pear trees to plant during the coming winter. This is always an exciting time as there is so much to go and see and taste which will help decision making. All around the country in October there are “Apple Days” at which apples and pears will be available to taste and as these are relatively long term investments it is well worth the research. Continue reading