realenglishfruit

Top fruit tree growing advice and information from Real English Fruit

Video: How to control aphids on fruit trees

This is a bad year for aphis. You can always see when you have an aphid attack because the leaves curl up. If nothing is done, the aphids will spread through the entire tree. There are ladybirds in the trees – these insects are predators of aphids and so help control aphid infection – but this year, the weather conditions have favoured the aphid presence and so the ladybirds cannot get rid of them. Ants are also a good indicator of aphids, as they milk them, using the sweet nectar that they exude as a source of food. To get rid of aphids on fruit trees there is a simple organic method. Spray the tree with a dilute washing-up-liquid solution, at the same sort of concentration that you would use to wash your dishes.
Narration: Dan Neuteboom
Camera: John Paddy

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Video: Black aphids on cherry

In late May, we see a fan-trained cherry tree that has set a good crop and has healthy leaves, but it is also showing a problem. The young leaves are curled up, as a result of black aphids. These can be a problem because of the damage that they cause to the leaves, and in addition, the sweet nectar that the aphids exude also attracts wasps. Infected shoots should be cut right out and placed in a basket and eliminated. Don’t drop the cut shoots on the ground because ants will take the aphids back into the tree so that they can continue to use them as a source of sweet nectar. An organic treatment for cherry black aphids is to spray the tree with a diluted solution of washing-up liquid, the same sort of dilution that you would use to wash dishes, to the point of run-off.
Narration: Dan Neuteboom
Camera: John Paddy

Video: Grafting apple trees, results and maintenance

In this video, made in late May, we see a 10-year-old apple tree that Dan Neuteboom and William Seabrook grafted in an earlier video, in March. The grafts have taken very well, the branches are healthy with a good set of leaves. If the graft does not develop properly, this may be caused by a hole in the tree wax. If this happens, just fill in the cracks and holes with a proprietary flexible tree wax that you can buy in garden centres. So, if you graft over a tree, it’s a good idea to go back after a few days and inspect the graft, correcting any holes or cracks in the wax. If the graft is completely sealed, it is more likely to be successful.
Narration: Dan Neuteboom
Camera: John Paddy

Video: May. Tying down apple tree branches

Dan Neuteboom demonstrate how to tie down apple tree branches, a method of forming the tree’s structure and encouraging growth of new shoots along the branches. This is a one-year old tree, with branches growing diagonally upwards and rather bare. Simply tie a few lengths of string at the base of the stake, and then wind the string around the branch and hold it in place with a clothes peg. Stronger branches can be tied down a little lower. When you bend the branch, twist it slightly. This will prevent it from breaking. Trees don’t crop because of pruning, but in spite of pruning: tying apple trees in this way will help the tree to start cropping.. Dan also points out that it is important to have mulch on the soil around the tree. This keeps the soil moist so that the root system can develop sufficiently to feed the part of the tree above ground level.
Narration: Dan Neuteboom
Camera: John Paddy

Video: How to control aphids on apple trees

At this time of year (late May), you often see ants climbing up a fruit tree. They are there because they are looking after their herds of aphis. The aphids produce a sweet liquid that the ants collect and use as a foodstuff. So if you see ants going up your fruit tree, from the ground into the branches and then onto the leaves, you know that you have aphids. How can you get rid of the aphids on your apple tree? This depends. You may have enough ladybirds, hoverflies and lacewings to control the aphids naturally, and if the infection is not too bad, they will remove most of the aphids and the tree won’t suffer. However, if you find leaves completely folded up, there are too many aphids and it will be very difficult to do something about it. One way of controlling aphis attack is to spray the tree with a soapy liquid, with ordinary washing up liquid at the same concentration that you use to wash the dishes. However, this will not solve the situation when it has reached the stage at which the leaves are curled up. Another possibility is to use an organic spray called pyrethrum. This will be partially effective. The overall message is to make sure that the amount of aphis in your tree does not get too excessive, and take into consideration whether there is sufficient presence of predators to keep the aphis population under control.
Narration: Dan Neuteboom
Camera: John Paddy

Video. May: How to grow morello cherries

Dan shows us a morello cherry tree that has been planted on the north side of a building in a garden orchard. The fruit set is very good. In fact the morello cherry is the only fruit tree that does very well on the north side of a building. The morello sets best on one-year-old wood. Last year, Dan cut back the one-year-old wood to shorter lengths, from which this year new branches have grown, on which the fruit has now set. This tree has been trained in a fan shape, but the really important thing in ensuring good cropping is to cut it back in November.
Narration by Dan Neuteboom, camera John Paddy

Video. May: How to control wasps in the garden

We are not the only ones who like the fruit that we grow in our garden orchard. Birds, wasps and other things also like to enjoy the fruit. Wasps can be a real problem, particularly with plums and cherries. At garden centres they sell various types of trap, or you can use a simple home-made device. Just take a large jam jar, fill it half-full with a very sweet sugar solution in water, make a hole in the lid and place it near or in the fruit trees. The wasp will enjoy the sugar for the rest of its life. An easy solution of how to catch wasps in the garden.

Narration by Dan Neuteboom, camera John Paddy

Video. How to support fruit tree branches

In a previous video we saw a freshly-planted tree. This tree was tied out last year, and you can see the amount of regrowth that has taken place. The tree has set a lot of fruit, and so Dan has provided support by using strings tied to the top of the stakes and looped around the branches. It is a temporary arrangement that stabilizes the tree. Once the framework is fixed, and the branches hold their position naturally, at the end of the season it is a good idea to remove the strings to ensure that they don’t get enveloped by the growing branches. This tree gives a good idea of the shape that we need: drooping branches, strongly-developed framework branches, well furnished with new wood. With an apple tree it’s important to support branches to prevent breakage.

Narration by Dan Neuteboom, camera John Paddy

Video: Plum sawfly treatment – pheromone traps

To watch the video, scroll down and click on the thumbnail. The plum sawfly becomes active in late May and the first week of June, and it stays active right up until we pick the plums. The sawfly itself is quite an attractive flying insect, with reddish head and thorax and a yellowish abdomen, but unfortunately it lays its eggs on the plum flowers, and the young plum sawfly larvae tunnel their way into the plums as they develop. So the net result is that when you are ready to enjoy your plum, you discover that someone else has got there before you. For plum sawfly control, you can use a pheromone trap to attract the plum sawfly. The pheromone mimics the scent of the male sawfly, attracting the female and preventing her from laying her eggs on the plum tree. The plum sawfly pheromone trap show here is triangular in shape, with a sticky cardboard base containing a lure that releases the pheromone gradually. It stays active for about 6 weeks, and then you have to replace the lure. This video was filmed on 28 May, so right at the beginning of the period in which these traps should be placed. Once the sticky board is full of sawflies, just pull it out and replace it. Garden centres sell packs of replacement sticky cards and lures which makes the process cheaper. So if you install a plum sawfly pheromone trap now, and replace it in six weeks time, it will greatly reduce the damage caused to your plums.

Plum sawfly life cycle

The plum sawfly life cycle begins when the female fly lays its eggs on the plum blossom. The larvae burrow into the young plum, which reacts to the attack by exuding a sticky resin – often the only noticeable sign of the presence of the sawfly. The larva eats some of the plum from inside, and the plum may drop to the ground early, or the mature larva may crawl out and drop to the ground. In any case, when in the soil, it forms a cocoon, well disguised by soil particles. It spends the entire winter in the cocoon at a depth of about 5 cm. It pupates at plum blossom time. Another method that can be used to control the plum sawfly is to gently loosen the soil around the base of the tree in late winter and early spring, giving birds the chance to locate the pupae and eat them.

Video: An insect hotel and fruit tree pollination

Dan Neuteboom shows us an insect hotel. The problem with the pollination of early-flowering fruit trees, such as cherries, plums, greengages, apricots and peaches, is that often it is so cold, there are hardly any insects around. But when the sun does come out in those early months, it can quickly get very warm and the insects will come out. In this sort of insect hotel, which should be placed facing south, insects like hoverflies and lacewings can spend the winter. These are the insects that can help with pollination after just a few hours of sunshine. Dan shows us an open-centre greengage tree in which there is good air circulation. The basic requirements for good fruit set, in a location where there are other varieties all around, are there. The other important thing is that frost is a real danger with early-flowering fruit. The trees least at risk from spring frosts are apple trees. All the other trees flower earlier. There are various ways of avoiding the risk of frost and stopping the trees from getting hurt by frost. One technique is shown right here: the chickens keep the grass cropped right down, so that the sun can heat up the ground which can then radiate the heat back into the air at night, helping protect the trees from frost. Another useful technique is to use nets, ensuring that air circulation is not obstructed. Mulch also requires care. It is great for late-flowering fruits such as raspberries and apples, but if you put mulch around the trees early in the season, thinking particularly of frost-sensitive trees such as pears, peaches and apricots, you have to bear in mind that the mulch worsens the frost situation because it doesn’t allow the ground to absorb heat from the sun during the day. Lastly, the position of the trees should be considered when planting new trees. If you plant them in a valley where cold air can accumulate, this increases the risk of frost damage. In this case it can be useful to ensure that there is an opening in a hedge so that cold air can flow away.