Dieback on apricot tree

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

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

Peach Leaf Curl

Grow Your Own Peaches & Nectarines

I suppose that if asked what the most exotic fruit that we can grow in our gardens is the majority of gardeners would say the peach or nectarine, due to their outstanding quality. Asking the same gardeners about how easy peaches and nectarines are to grow, then the answer would probably be to not try growing them in the garden because they are so difficult to grow! Whilst I would agree that to call peaches and nectarines exotic is a very fitting accolade, nothing could be more untrue in saying that they are hard to grow. Indeed the very opposite is true if attention is paid to planting and growing conditions. Continue reading

Silver Leaf infects the wood through wounds and causes silvering of the leaf folliowed by death of the branch.

Growing Plums in the Garden

Plums are a wonderful fruit to eat and cook with and fortunately an ideal fruit for growing at home, so please ignore the pundits who may suggest the contrary! When I refer to plums I use this term to include gages as they are essentially the same fruit. Gages are considered to be so named after Sir Thomas Gage who was a great fan of the juiciest plums and would go out of his way to select and hunt out the finest. Continue reading

Festooning a young cherry tree

Dealing with an Unfruitful Tree

Every now and again you may find that one of your fruit trees fails to produce fruit and this may well happen after several years of good fruiting. This is not terribly unusual and can happen at any time and there are usually very good reasons for this. Alternatively a tree may not want to start fruit production at all so let’s consider what you might do to get your tree into a fruiting habit. Continue reading

Gooseberry 'Hinnonmaki Red'

Gooseberries: A Forgotten Fruit

In my opinion gooseberries have become a forgotten fruit as I rarely see them grown nowadays. I suppose that in a way I can understand why because most varieties have thorny stems, berries that are regularly covered with mildew and are rarely eaten ripe which means that the intense flavours are missed. But don’t let any of these factors put you off because you can grow gooseberries as cordons so thorny stems aren’t a problem, there are varieties which are resistant to mildew and above all there are varieties which are so luscious when perfectly ripe that you will assume they are exotic fruits! I know that I labour the point a  lot about eating soft fruit, in particular, direct from the bush but this is so true about gooseberries – I promise you! Forget those hard bullets that you may be able to find in the shops – grow some large sweet berries in your own garden or allotment. Continue reading

Loganberry LY654

Growing Blackberries & Hybrid Berries

There are many people who just love foraging around the countryside in the late summer or autumn for wild blackberries and if the berries are picked in time they are so very yummy! But getting the right time is a rather hit and miss affair and this right time changes with each season, so some years you may arrive to your favourite area to pick and find the berries are nowhere near ripe and some years you may find they are overripe or already picked! Continue reading

Cordon fruit trees growing in pots

Potting Up & Re-potting Fruit Trees & Soft Fruits

It is quite possible to grow most fruit trees and soft fruit plants in containers; however to do this you do need to carefully prepare in the same way that you would prepare the open ground before planting out. Unfortunately many people acquire a tree or plant and then just shove it in a pot or container without any thought and that usually ends up with the poor thing hardly surviving or perhaps dying. Continue reading

Pomona Fruits

Planting in Wet or Frozen Conditions

In an ideal world, when it comes to planting bare root fruit trees and bushes, soil and weather conditions will be perfect, but, of course, in reality, this is rarely the case. We therefore have to manage as best we can as we need to ensure the planting of bare rooted stock is undertaken in what is often the worst period of the year for weather – December to March! So how can we obviate the problems caused by adverse weather conditions? Continue reading