Top fruit tree growing advice and information from Real English Fruit

New video: how to make dried apple rings

Dan recalls his childhood experiences in Holland during the Second World War, when food became scarce and so people sliced and dried their apples so that they could be used as a source of basic nutrition all year round. The apples were cored and sliced, and the slices were hung on a string in a warm, dry place such as an airing cupboard. Dan demonstrates how to make dried apples at home using a technique that he remembers from the early 1940s but that in fact has been performed in many locations for centuries. Narration by Dan Neuteboom, camera by John Paddy. Click to watch. Read more at

How to make dried apple rings

September 2019: tasks in a garden orchard

This is the month when many varieties of apple, pear, plum, greengage and quince will need to be picked. It is important to ensure that the trees are picked at the correct time. If you pick too early, the fruit will shrivel and it will lack taste. If you pick too late, the fruit will not keep and the wind will cause serious fruit drop. So you may ask, when is the correct time for picking? Taste the fruit: if it eats well, pick the fruit. If it is difficult to pick and the fruit will not come off easily, then delay picking. Test the tree again 3 or 4 days later, and you may find that things have changed very quickly, particularly after a couple of really cold nights. This applies particularly to apples and pears.

Once the fruit has been picked, select the best fruits for keeping and use the damaged fruits for processing, soon after picking. Store the fruits in single layers and make sure you choose the coolest place available for storage. Also make sure the location is vermin free. Lots of other creatures, such as mice, will soon discover where the next meal will be available, particularly in the late autumn and winter months.

Remember to visit your fruit storage place weekly and remove any fruits that are rotting. If you forget to do this, it will adversely affect the quality of the remaining fruits.

Click here to see the complete year’s calendar of garden orchard work.

Dan Neuteboom

Dan Neuteboom

Take a look at our latest videos:

Suffolk Pink apples and their colour
In Suffolk Pink, colour is produced not just by the effect of sunlight, but requires another factor as well. Which is it? Click to find out.

Chip budding
Nurseryman William Seabrook demonstrates the chip budding technique. Click to watch.

Grafting, success and the occasional failure
Grafts are not always successful. William Seabrook examines two grafts performed in April, one showing excellent growth, while the other evidently went wrong. Click to watch.

Summer pruning on Suffolk Pink
Summer pruning is important to develop colour on ripening apples. Click to watch.

Summer pruning on pears
When doing summer pruning on pears, think ahead to next year’s crop. Click to watch

What to look for when buying apple trees
Dan Neuteboom talks about what to look out for when buying fruit trees. A healthy tree is essential, but you can also look for characteristics that indicate a rapid start of fruiting. Click to watch.

Pruning pear trees in August and September
How to keep pear trees in a shape that stimulates good cropping and keeps the fruit low down on the tree for easy picking. Click to watch.

Suffolk Pink apples and how they develop their colour

The effect of sunlight on helping fruit to colour up is familiar to everyone. Summer pruning is performed in part to enable light to reach the fruit so that its colour can develop. But this year, Dan Neuteboom noticed that another factor must be involved in colour development, in particular for the variety Suffolk Pink. By late August, the fruit was ready to pick, but much of it was far less coloured than is normal for this variety – whose lovely colour gave it its name. In fact, when they saw a sample of the crop, the supermarkets that stock this fruit on their shelves said that they couldn’t buy it because of its lack of colour.

Over the last couple of months, the weather has produced very hot days, and warm nights, so with a far lower temperature excursion than normal. Temperature excursion is evidently involved in the development of fruit colour, and it is this that has changed with respect to a normal year. The only solution is to leave the fruit on the tree in the hope for some cooler nights. Click to watch the video. Narration by Dan Neuteboom, camera by John Paddy.

suffolk pink

For more information on the origin of Suffolk Pink, read this web page.

Chainsaw surgery – treating bacterial canker. New video

Bacterial canker is a disease that usually kills a tree. In the latest video published on the RealEnglishFruit video channel, Dan Neuteboom explains how he treated a damson tree that was afflicted by bacterial canker, by cutting away the infected parts of the trunk with a chain saw, and painting the wounds with creocoat (a creosote substitute).

It’s easy to see when a tree has bacterial canker: dieback on parts of the tree, and dead areas of bark developing in spring and early summer, with brown gummy liquid oozing out of the trunk. Small round brown spots appear on leaves and later fall out, leaving small holes, known as “shotholes”.

It is an infectious disease, and so it’s best to prune stone fruit trees – plums, greengages, peaches, apricots etc. – only when the tree has leaves and is fully active, so during the summer, because in this period the tree has a degree of resistance to bacterial canker and can heal its wounds. By the end of August, no more pruning should be done on these trees.

Dan’s treatment of this particular tree was performed in July.

The disease is caused by plant-pathogenic bacteria Pseudomonas syringae, which exists in different forms specific to certain tree species. The bacteria land on the leaves where they reside on the surface, and can cause leaf infections in spring and early summer by entering the leaf spores, causing the “shothole” effect. Cankers develop when the bacteria exploit the wound caused by leaf drop or other damage to branches and enter the phloem cells just under the bark – the cells that transport sap rich in sugar and nutrients. The bacteria’s development here blocks the sap tubes causing the death of part or all of the tree.

Garden orchards, update for the month of August

This is a very important time in the fruit calendar. Many fruits are either close to picking or already being picked. The early plums such as Mirabelles, and likewise apricots, are being picked, and greengages, plums and early apple varieties will soon be ready.

Wasps are now very active and efforts have to be made to find the nests close by in order to reduce the numbers of these insects. The plum moth and codling moth have been a real nuisance this year. The lure and sticky pads in the pheromone traps in our area had to be renewed twice due to the large number of moths present. Woolly aphids have also been present in far greater numbers when compared to other years. Also bacterial canker, silver leaf and common tree canker in many cases have been a problem. Therefore, all considered, any wounds made during the summer pruning activities will need to be sealed with a wound-healing paint without delay.

Secondly it is most important that the essential summer pruning of peaches, apricots, cherries and plums is carried out and completed this month. The same applies to specially-trained apple and pear tree shapes such as fan, espalier, cordon and stepover.

Wherever possible, before pruning and picking, remove and destroy any damaged fruit such as fruit affected by brown rot. These fruits should be taken out of the orchard because they are infectious to other trees. If birds are a problem, nets will have to be put over the fruit to reduce any damage caused.

Apples this year are cropping irregularly in many places. Usually the young trees are fine and fruit needed to be thinned earlier in the year. This year, many older trees are showing a light crop. Pears on the other hand are doing well this year.

Finally, now is the time to prepare the containers that will be used for picking. In addition, check that the storage area for fruit is clean and free from mice, insects etc.

Video channel:

Here are some videos that may be useful this month:

How to control wasps in the garden

Pheromone trap for the sawfly

Summer pruning

Example of nets on a cherry tree grown on a wall

There is also a lot of information on the main website

dan neuteboom

Dan Neuteboom

Relevant points for the garden orchard in the month of July

This is the best time of the year to carry out summer pruning on plums, pears, cherries and peaches. Watch a video
Check that nets protecting the various fruit crops are still bird proof. Watch a video
Check pheromone traps for apple sawfly and plum sawfly. Replace the lure if necessary. Watch a video
Prepare the ground for planting new fruit trees in the autumn/winter period.
Thin fruits if their density on the tree is too high. Watch a video
Cut out tree canker and paint the wounds to stop re-infection. Watch a video
Spray to prevent bitter pit in apples.

How to thin plums

In late May-early June, if the set of fruit on plum trees is strong, it is a good idea to start thinning out the plums. If the trees have too many plums, size will be disappointing. Use a narrow-tipped cutter to remove some plums so that the ones left are a couple of inches apart. Where there are two together, cut them down to one. When plums overcrop, the branches break, and the fruit is not as good.

Narration: Dan Neuteboom
Camera: John Paddy

Further information on the RealEnglishFruit website

How to grow figs in the UK

Figs do much better if they are in some sort of container, rather than planting them directly in the ground, because they have very strong root systems. Dan shows us a fig that he planted 8 years ago, in a container made with a base of bricks, and soil placed on top of the bricks. This system enables the fig to grow well, but not too strongly. This method of preventing the tree roots from penetrating down into the soil encourages It to convert its growth vigour into cropping, and as you can see in the video, it is bearing a lot of fruit all over the tree. So if you would like to plant a fig primarily for its leaves, then you can plant it straight into the ground. If you want the fig to crop, the most important of Dan’s fig growing tips is to plant it in a suitable container, not too small, or do something similar with bricks or stone.

Narration: Dan Neuteboom
Camera: John Paddy

Video: Ladybirds, great friends for fruit growers

A ladybird is the biggest friend the fruit grower can have. They inhabit fruit trees and eat the aphids. Unfortunately, this year – the video was filmed in May 2019 – there are far too many aphids when compared to the number of ladybirds, and so on their own the ladybirds can’t keep them under control. You can help by spraying the trees with a soapy liquid made with a washing-up liquid, at the concentration that you would use to do the washing-up. It won’t kill the ladybirds, nor the ants. But it will finish off the aphids.

Narration: Dan Neuteboom
Camera: John Paddy

Further information on the RealEnglishFruit website

Video: May – Mildew on fruit trees

In spring and early summer, mildew can develop on fruit trees very quickly, particularly in certain weather conditions. It’s a good idea to visit your trees every week, and when you do, be sure to bring a basket with you. Cut away mildew-affected shoots, and put then into the metal basket. From here, the shoots can disposed of, placing them into the non-recycling bin. The whitish appearance of mildew infection is due to the thousands of fungal spores on the leaves. Eliminating infected leaves and shoots helps control outbreaks of mildew.

Narration: Dan Neuteboom
Camera: John Paddy

Further information on the RealEnglishFruit website