realenglishfruit

Top fruit tree growing advice and information from Real English Fruit

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Watering update for newly-planted trees in the UK

Young trees and newly planted trees are now at a critical stage of their development. Rainfall in the UK is very erratic at this time of the year. These young trees are now very much depending on local showers which may not come in time. Therefore supply these trees with help, when they need it most; SUPPLY EACH TREE WITH A FULL WATERING CAN OF 5 TO 10 LITRES OF WATER, DEPENDING ON THE SIZE AND AGE OF THE TREE, NOW. In that way new roots can be formed and at the same time plenty of moisture will be available for the rapidly increasing canopy of foliage.

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A reflection on flood conditions in the UK

We have heard and seen so much about the dreadful floods all over the country. Nothing is worse than having your house and home standing in water, due to rivers bursting their banks, due to vast amounts of unprecedented volumes of rain. This made me think how people had to cope in Holland with rising water levels of the North Sea after violent storms from the north-west, some 800 years ago. Their main concern and top priority was to safeguard the home and the shed for the domestic animals, a few cows, pigs and chickens. These small farm steads were situated as totally isolated buildings in the middle of lots of low-lying surrounding fields. The surrounding fields were mainly grassland for their cattle. What they did was to build terps (artificial mound), by hand and a wheelbarrow. They built their home on top of this mound. Obviously in most cases today this is not possible due to a host of environmental regulations. However it is still possible, under similar threatening conditions, to surround your home and garden, with the aid of a JCB, with a dike, wide enough and high enough, to keep the water out. The surrounding dike can be stabilized further by planting fruit trees on the top of the dike and a mixed hedge at the bottom. These will help keep the soil together. Cover the soil with deep-rooting grass to anchor the soil all over the area. Keep some sheep to utilize the grass and there is your personalized flood defense.

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How to keep a fruit tree in check and maintain its fruitfulness

This is a fundamental question for anyone growing fruit in the garden: how do you keep the trees in check, while at the same time keeping them fruitful?

The first thing is to protect the trees from spring frosts. As soon as the first flowers are open, it is very important that whenever a spring frost is forecast, the trees are covered before you go to bed with a double layer of garden fleece or the equivalent. By 9 o’clock in the morning, when the temperature has risen above 0 degrees Celsius, the fleece will have to be removed for pollination purposes. The point of all this is that temperatures below 0°C kill the flowers, which in turn prevents fruit from being formed.

This may sound like quite a lot of work to incorporate into your busy daily schedule. In actual fact it doesn’t take long and it can be quite easily done, on one condition: as long the trees are of a size not much taller than say approximately 8 feet. THIS CAN ONLY BE ACHIEVED IF SUMMER PRUNING IS CARRIED OUT. Winter pruning increases tree size, summer pruning maintains tree size to the height and width you like it to be, without the tree losing its ability to crop the following year.

The important point to remember is that timing is of critical importance. As a general guide, summer pruning should be done as soon as the tree has been picked. Definitely no later than the end of September. Once leaf quality is starting to deteriorate, it is too late. Remove the older wood. Retain the fruiting spurs and the younger wood, and the two-year-old short darts. Always seal the wounds with “Heal and Seal”, obtainable from garden centres.

Not all varieties can be summer pruned in this way. Considering pear trees, the variety range suitable for this treatment is Concorde, Conference, Onward, Williams and Beth.

Quite a lot of apple varieties are suitable, but only diploid varieties. such as James Grieve, Red Windsor, Egremont Russet, Katy and Sunset. Triploids are usually too vigorous to be kept in control in this way. With tip bearers such as Worcester Pearmain, keeping size under control by summer pruning is possible but tricky, and with shy-bearing varieties such as Cox Orange Pippin, it is an uphill struggle. Therefore always seek advice. After all, fruit trees, all being well, should be a satisfying long-term investment. Similarly seek advice when you are considering cherries and plum varieties.

A dwarf stock is a help in controlling tree size, on good soils. On shallow soils, this is often not the case. A raised bed is a better alternative than planting in a poor soil.

Lastly, never let your trees dry out. Water weekly during the growing season. Do not flood the trees; one full watering can per week for each tree is enough. Do not starve your trees by planting in a bed of grass and weeds. The trees will dry out in no time!!

Watch a video on the subject of summer pruning:

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Dan Neuteboom featured in the magazine The Fruit Grower

Dan Neuteboom from Suffolk Fruit & Trees was featured in the September 2015 issue of The Fruit Grower. The article describes his 12-month test of an ethylene filter designed specifically for smaller-scale fruit growers. When fruit is put into store, it is alive, and so it carries on its metabolism though at a slower rate due to the cool temperature. Apples and pears produce ethylene as they ripen, and this changes the fruit colour and gradually makes it softer. So an ethylene filter such as that by Fresh Pod, tested in the trial, helps fruit in store keep better and for longer, without losing flavour or firmness. Here is the original article:

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In the article, Dan provides advice for those growers wishing to use the filter. Some of his tips can be followed by anyone who wants to store some fruit from a garden apple or pear tree:

  • Store fruit that is slightly under-ripe to maintain fruit firmness
  • Pick fruit for storage when it is cool, so early in the morning
  • Only store undamaged fruit
  • Remove fruit showing signs of rot
  • Ideal storage temperature is 3-4°C

Below, the photo published in the article:

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For further information on the magazine The Fruit Grower, see www.actpub.co.uk

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We Did It!

An inspiring project, the Hanwell and Norwood Green Orchard Trail, a community project to plant and care for a trail of native fruit trees around Hanwell Meadows in West London, for autumn foraging and for wildlife. Forty trees successfully planted!

Hanwell and Norwood Green Orchard Trail

Fourty patches of grass and other vegetation cleared, holes dug, stakes driven in, bonemeal added, watering tube installed, tree planted, watered, tied on, reviewed, numbered, approved and applauded, all in one day.

Our huge thanks to everyone who made history on this cold Saturday February 7th, 2015. 26 volunteers braved the chilly breeze, the occasional drizzle and occasional sunshine.

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Quince – Vranja

Vranja quince, photo courtesy of hokus pokus pas/flickr.com

Vranja quince, photo courtesy of hokus pokus pas/flickr.com

A prolific cropper producing very large fruit, with good flavour. The tree is of strong vigour, with large leaves.and beautiful flowers in the spring. Only minimal pruning is recommended.

Click here to go to the Tree Varieties page, where you can select this and other varieties in a provisional order

Site maintenance

Dear subscribers,

We’ll be doing some technical work on this blog and on the website realenglishfruit.co.uk over the next couple of days. As a result, you may receive a number of blog posts by email, with descriptions of fruit tree varieties. We apologize for any inconvenience, and we would like to reassure you that it is not spam!

Thank you and all best wishes for 2014.

October tips: honey fungus

In this mild autumn the toadstools of the Honey fungus are all around to see. If your fruit tree has been affected by this fungus, consider removing the tree as there is no cure known to man.

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Photo courtesy of Charles de Mille-Isles/flickr.com

October tips: it’s now too late to prune some trees

It is now too late to prune apricot, peach, nectarine, plum and cherry. Bacterial canker and the silver leaf fungus are looking for open wounds on any live woody tissue in order to start a new infection.

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Photo courtesy of amadej2008/flickr.com

Apple trees for beautiful blossom

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If you are not really interested in fruit, but really like beautiful apple blossom and autumn colours of the foliage. plant some crab apples, such as Malus Everest, Malus Royalty, Malus Robusta and Malus Van Heseltine. Take a look at our Tree Varieties page, where you can use the web form to ask for information or place a provisional order.
Photo courtesy of Codognanais/flickr.com