realenglishfruit

Top fruit tree growing advice and information from Real English Fruit

Monthly Archives: August 2015

Weekly update for the fruit garden – fourth week of August 2015

Wasps have been a real hindrance all round, due to the changes in weather patterns. As a result, fruit which has been damaged by wasps or birds is now showing the usual signs of brown rot developing. It is very important to remove this fruit and dispose of it. Irrespective of whether the fruit still is hanging on in the trees or has already fallen on the ground, if it is left there, the spores of the fungus may be developing on the remaining fruits. Orchard hygiene at this stage needs to be taken seriously.

If the trees have been growing strongly, this is the right time to carry out summer pruning. Details of the summer pruning technique are explained in the Pruning Section on the website www.realenglishfruit.co.uk

This is also the right time to prune away surplus growth on trees which are being trained as cordons, fan or espaliers or step-over trees.

Photo courtesy of LHG Creative Photography/flickr.com

Photo courtesy of LHG Creative Photography/flickr.com

Weekly update for the fruit garden – third week of August 2015

Apples:

Today we picked some good sample of Discovery apples. During the first week of June, we thinned the clusters of the young fruitlets to two fruits per cluster. The effects of this are now, at picking time, very evident. The fruits are of beautiful colour, decent size and very crisp. It is always right with early maturing varieties to thin out the fruitlets, EARLY in the growing season, if you like crisp fruit with a good flavour. Never store early fruit with long term storage fruit. Early varieties produce lots of ethylene and therefore reduce the storage life of all the surrounding fruits.

Make a regular check and remove any fruits showing brown rot. Do not drop this fruit on the orchard floor. Spores easily spread and will infect other fruits still on the trees.

The rewards of a well-tended orchard

The rewards of a well-tended orchard

Raspberries:

Continue regular picking of the autumn–fruiting raspberries. Cut out the old canes of the summer fruiting raspberries. Tie in the new shoots.

Weekly update for the fruit garden – second week of August 2015

Apples:

Many apple trees are carrying too much fruit. To ensure that you have a crop next year, remove surplus fruit from the tree this week. Copncentrate particularly on damaged, small and green fruit in the centre of the tree. As we are in a drier spell of weather, do not let the trees go short of water, while the fruits are swelling.

Cane fruits:

Cut out the old canes of summer fruiting raspberries. Finish picking the red and black currants.

Gooseberries:

Watch out for gooseberry sawfly. These caterpillars can defoliate your gooseberry bushes within a week. Organic materials are available in the garden centres to prevent this menace.

gooseberry_sawfly_Crabchick

All fruit trees:

Net the trees if birds are pecking the fruits. If not, wasps will hollow out the fruits, such as apples, pears, plums and greengages.

 

Photo courtesy of Katherine Shann/flickr.com

Photo courtesy of Katherine Shann/flickr.com

Weekly update for cherry trees – first week of August

Now that the cherry crops have been picked, that is if spring frosts and birds did not do any major damage to your crop prospects, it is a good time to consider the size of the trees. This is the right time now to summer prune your tree(s), bringing them back to a size you can cope with. DO NOT LEAVE IT TO THE WINTER TIME. Summer pruning means cutting out surplus older wood and creating more sun and room for younger 1 to 3-year-old wood.

The historical background of the greengage

Many people think that the greengage is a real English type of fruit. Often people are puzzled why it is so difficult to grow regular crops of greengages. The real reason is that the home of this delicious fruit variety was originally in the country of Armenia. Smallholdings there often had some of these trees, and the fruit was used simply to meet the families’ needs. But already by the 15th century these fruits were sold -often dried, so they would keep longer – to passing traders en route to the West to sell their silk fabrics. In addition to greengages, fruits such as dates, nuts and almonds were also sold.

This trading route was known as the Silk Road, connecting China, Central Asia, the Balkans, including Georgia and Armenia, to the West of Europe.

In this way, the greengage arrived in Greece around 1500, Italy around 1600, and France in about 1700. During the reign of King Francis I, in the 18th century, the fruits were introduced to Claude, the queen. She was delighted with these small, delicious fruits, and they became known as the Reine Claude variety. An English nobleman named Sir Thomas Gage, visiting France at that time, was equally delighted with the flavour of these fruits. So he introduced the fruits to England and renamed them after himself. The name stuck and so today this type of fruit, green to golden in colour, is still known in the UK as the “GREEN GAGE”.

So why are these little fruits so outstanding, flavour-wise? In my view, this is directly related to where these types of fruit were developed in ancient times. Armenia, which is situated between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, has an ideal fruit-growing climate, with cold winters and warm dry summers. The particular sweetness of the fruit, now firmly established in the greengage’s genetic make-up, is a result of adaptation to the warm and dry summer climatic conditions.

Although fruit tree grafting was already practiced as early as the eighth and ninth centuries, the reproduction of the greengage type of plum took place by simply planting the stones of these fruits. It is for this reason that the true greengage has not lost its delicate sweetness, unrivalled by any other fruit. But the successful growing of greengages in England is a real challenge.

Greengages, photo courtesy of Tiggins Meadow/flickr.com

Greengages, photo courtesy of Tiggins Meadow/flickr.com

Wasps, flies and over-ripe fruit

At this time of the year, wasps and flies can be a great problem with plums and cherries and later on with apples and pears. These insects are particularly interested when fruits are becoming OVER-RIPE.

Therefore do not delay in picking the fruits when ripe. Secondly, make sure local wasps’ nests are dealt with. Wasp traps are only partially effective. Clearing the nests in the vicinity is the best solution.

Photo courtesy of Ervins Strauhmanis/flickr.com

Photo courtesy of Ervins Strauhmanis/flickr.com