Top fruit tree growing advice and information from Real English Fruit

Tag Archives: fruit tree consuitancy

This is the difference…

pears_pete_1_smOf course, you can buy trees that are cheaper. You can always buy something cheaper. But is it really cheaper, and is it worth it, when it’s something like a tree that will be with you for half a century, that will improve your garden and increase the value of your property, and will provide you with the pleasure of blossom and fruit year after year?

The trees that Suffolk Fruit and Trees supplies are different. In the words of one customer: “I am delighted with the quality of the trees, so different to the twiglike fruit tree I received from a newspaper offer previously. Thank you for your efficiency and advice.”

The fruit trees that we sell are Bush trees, well-developed specimens with useful side branches to encourage early cropping. This is why, with our trees, cropping usually begins the year after planting. They are sturdy, strong and healthy, with good levels of reserves in the tree structure. This helps them to resist diseases caused by the fungal spores that are always present in the air.

Other suppliers may seem to have prices lower than ours, but this is because the trees that they supply are Maidens (the first-year, twiglike trees referred to by the customer quoted above), without all the advantages offered by Bush trees. We concentrate on the supply of well feathered 2 and 3 year old trees. We also sell maiden trees but only when well feathered with side branches. As a last resort we will sell single stem maiden trees, if the older trees have been sold out.

There is another difference. To quote another customer: “We would like to thank you for your help and wonderful guidance and instructions you sent us, both in choosing and caring for our apple tree.” And another, who said: “From the very first time I contacted you it was obvious that you were not just looking to sell me trees but genuinely wanted to look after me and my wife so that we had exactly the orchard we wanted (…) You have given us good old fashioned service that is so rare these days.”

In other words, the real difference, with Suffolk Fruit and Trees, is our support and expert advice. Our aim is to ensure that your fruit trees thrive and provide you with fruit as soon as possible, and for years to come. Our advice begins with ensuring that your choice of trees from our extensive selection will work well, whether they are for a patio pot, garden or orchard. After your purchase, our after-sales service provides assistance and tips on planting, getting the trees to grow well and crop as soon as possible, and personalized advice on what to do if unexpected difficulties arise.

By way of conclusion, here is another piece of customer feedback. “After many trials and tribulations, sadder and wiser, I met Dan, who for several years now has supplied all my fruit bushes and trees and given me a huge amount of good (and sometimes!) stern advice. The result? You should see it – fantastic! Everything is booming!”

Click here to read more customer feedback

Making a wildflower meadow

The wildflower meadow that you can see in the photos was initiated in 2000. We sowed grass and a perennial wild flower mix. Soil should not be fertilized, and it should be of poor vigour. Otherwise, grasses will grow too strongly.

Wildflower meadow, detail

Wildflower meadow, detail

Mow in mid-late August; leave the grass there for a few days to allow flower seeds to drop. Then remove the hay.
Repeat every year, sowing new varieties as desired.
It is a good idea to keep a diary of your meadow, recording what you have sown and what has grown. Often what is planted or sown doesn’t appear the next season, but only after a couple of years. Sometimes it appears, but in a different place with respect to where it was sown. The balance of grasses and flowers varies from year to year, affected by climate and presumably by various other factors.
By way of example, the following lists illustrate the development of our wildflower meadow in Suffolk.

Click on the thumbnail below to watch the video of this wildflower meadow:

Planted in June 2001: grass seed and wildflower seed mix.
Wildflower species planted:
Small daffodils
Grape hyacinths
Blue anenomes

Sown July 2002:
Birds nest orchid

Observed in 2002:
Lots of grasses
Red clover
Pink clover
White clover
Dog daisies
Field buttercups
Creeping buttercups
White campion
Common vetch
Tiny field vetch
Black medick
Birds foot trefoil
Geranium (small flowers)
Scarlet pimpernel
Hedge woundwort
Common broomrape
Plantain (two species)
Scentless mayweed
Pineapple weed
Common catsear
Bristly Oxtongue

Wildflower meadow, many different grasses

Wildflower meadow, many different grasses

Planted in 2003/2004:
Red campion
Meadow sweet

Observed in 2003:
Toadflax (gone 2009)
Ragged robin

Observed in 2004:
Lots of cowslips (planted and from seed)
Yellow bedstraw

Planted in 2005:
Yellow rattle

Observed in 2005:
Lots of cowslips
Lots of dandelions
Yellow bedstraw



Observed in 2007:
Lots of cowslips
Yellow bedstraw
Ragged robin
Several scabious
Lots of bugle

Observed in 2008:
Lots of cowslips
One good ragged robin
White bee orchid (not in wildflower meadow itself, but on a bank about 20 yards away)
A large clump of yellow rattle (not where sown in 2005)
Two clumps yellow bedstraw
One white bedstraw

Sown in 2008:
White bee orchid between birch and prunus serrula
More bee orchid seeds and yellow rattle

Observed in 2009:
Hundreds of cowslips.
Grass less vigorous
Lots of yellow rattle
The white bee orchid flowered again
Two bee orchids in the meadow
Four yellow bedstraw, one white

Observed in 2010:
As in 2009, but no bee orchids on the bank, and one on the field
More dog daisies and bedstraw (one white)
One Pyramid orchid

Pyramid orchid

Pyramid orchid

Planted in 2010:
Ragged robin

Observed in 2011:
Long drought in spring, meadow poor. No orchids at all. Nothing of the things planted last year. Yellow rattle not good. Many geraniums.

Yellow rattle

Yellow rattle

Observed in 2012:
Much better, lots of rain in spring/early summer. FLowers all very good including rattle but no orchids. One weedy ragged robin, 4 bee orchids. Grass very lush. Geraniums look good. Lots of broomrape.

Burrow of a small animal, used by bumble bees

Burrow of a small animal, used by bumble bees

Wildflower meadow, dog daisies

Wildflower meadow, dog daisies

Wildflower meadow path, mown for access purposes

Wildflower meadow path, mown for access purposes

Wildflower meadow, more dog daisies

Wildflower meadow, more dog daisies

Top ten fruit tree tips for September

1. Start preparing the ground where you are intending to plant your new orchard, cordons, fans or espalier-trained fruit trees. Check the pH of the soil which needs to be between 6.3 and 6.8. If the pH of the soil is below 6.3, apply some lime and work into the soil.
2. Make sure the site and position is right; not in a frost pocket or on the northerly and shady sites of buildings, walls or hedges.
3. Apply plenty of well-rotted farmyard manure and work into the soil up to a depth of 15 inches.
4. Remove and kill perennial weeds such as bramble, stinging nettle and couch grass.
5. Eliminate wasps nests and remove rotting fruits, which will hide the wasps, from the orchard floor.
6. Remove any rotting or damaged fruits from the trees. Pick the fruit that is ready to eat. Do not store early-maturing fruits such as Discovery and Grenadier apples. Fruit for storage needs to be slightly immature. Fruit that is too ripe will not store.
7. Finish the summer pruning programmes as mentioned in the August tips.
8. Check the storage space for your fruit; it needs to be clean, cool and free from vermin such as flies and mice.
9. Check that the thermometer in the store is in good working order.
10. Start discussing which varieties would be suitable for your location with a knowledgeable and experienced fruit specialist. All types of fruit are site sensitive!

A good crop on a well-tended apple tree

A good crop on a well-tended apple tree

Top ten fruit growing tips for July

Bumble bee

Bumble bee

1. It is very important for the health and welfare of bees to grow the right type of flowering plants favoured by bees for pollen and honey gathering, throughout the summer months. I t doesn’t need to be complicated. At this time of the year Angelica and red clover are definite favourites. Bumble bees are always on the look out for disused mice tracks in the soil. That’s where it likes to build its nest for the queen.

2. Red currants, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries are now beginning to ripen. Late-picked gooseberries are sweeter than the ones picked in June.

3. Support heavily cropping branches of plums, apples and pears. However, overcropping will greatly reduce next year’s crop. To reduce the threat of the silver leaf fungus entering via broken branches of too heavy-cropping plum trees , drastically reduce the number of fruits now and space the fruits 6 inches apart, leaving the best sized fruits.

4. Space the apples six inches apart, after the middle of July.

5. Check weeds around trees and bushes. Tie in the newly-forming shoots of loganberries, blackberries and tayberries.

6. Tie in the replacement shoots of peaches. Check the fruit cage for holes in the netting. Birds are good at finding the holes and eating your cherries, redcurrants, blueberries and raspberries.

7. Check tree ties. Too many trees are severely damaged due to ingrowing ties.

8. Place the pheromone traps to reduce the damage caused by caterpillars of the codling moth and plum sawfly now.

9. All fruits need a steady supply of moisture. Check the soil. If too dry, apply water at 10 day intervals.

10. If apple and pear shoots are growing too strongly, remove the growing tips of the new growth. Carry out summer pruning where trees are becoming too dense and light is excluded.

Click here for more growing tips

Fruit tree maintenance, seasonal tips, early June 2013

Fruit set

Fruit set

Because the season is approximately 3 weeks later then normal, there are various points which are of importance now.

In general trees which are 4 years or older have shown a good deal of blossom. If this is not the case then bullfinches may have been at work in February. Or if there are plenty of pigeons around, these birds can strip the majority of the early developing leaf as well as the developing blossom.
If fruitset looks good then wait until early July before thinning the fruit. This is to ensure that the natural thinning has finished before you start thinning yourself. Thinning is important, because if the trees are having to mature too many fruits, then blossom next season will be sparse and very weak.

Fruit trees and the soil – case history

A good crop on a well-tended apple tree

A good crop on a well-tended apple tree

Here is an example of the sort of request that we get as part of our everyday tree sales business.

Dear Mr. Neuteboom,

Is it too late in the year to order fruit trees from you? I am looking to plant 12 trees in a space I have been opening out, but I am unsure of whether the trees will survive in the existing soil there. The soil on most of the site is a light coloured dense clay, and although your website states that the M106 rootstock can normally survive, I wonder how well I might expect the trees to cope with it?

The site is on an east-facing slope which gets lots of sunlight until late afternoon – though I may remove some of the trees which start to shade it then.

Although I am not certain about the cherries (I am looking for two sweet varieties with different fruiting periods), I think I would be looking at getting the following trees, but would apprieciate your opinions as to whether they would survive in the soil and whether the fruiting times of the apples which do not store well are at all separated:

Apples: Adams Pearmain
James Grieve
Annie Elizabeth
Bramley’s Seedling (x2)
Dr. Harvey
Cherry: Van
Merchant Lapins
Pear: Concorde
Plum: Denniston Gage
If it is indeed too late in the year to be considering planting these trees, we would still be looking at putting them in next year.

Many thanks,
P., Sussex,
Dear Mr. P,
To answer your questions calls for a look at the physiology of the fruit tree. Putting it another way; it is a help to have an understanding of “the way the tree ticks”.

The soil
Fruit trees can be grown successfully in any soil. As long as it is possible for the roots to take up water and the basic nutritional elements such as N, P and K, plus the trace elements, then the fruit tree can establish itself. Therefore a permanent SOIL MULCH in your particular case is of great importance. This needs to consist of old disintegrating materials such as old wet hay or straw. Or better still, farm yard manure. This will have to be topped up on an annual basis and to have a minimum thickness of 4 to 5 inches. To be applied around the trunk of each tree covering a soil area of a minimum of 1.5 square yards. It is of great importance that the mulch remains largely weed free and therefore is of 100% benefit to the tree and not the weeds.Leave a small ring around the trunk free from mulch as the trunk must remain dry and not permanently damp. This to stop fungi infections of the trunk.

Secondly, roots cannot grow without energy. This energy is provided by the 21% oxygen in the air. From this it follows that it is essential that the drainage of the soil is working reasonably well, particularly during the winter months. Roots standing permanently in water, as a result of impeded drainage, are death to a fruit tree. Particularly during the winter
months, roots have to grow significantly. This can only happen when sufficient oxygen is available in the rooting area. Therefore in your case, improve the drainage if it is suspect.

Lastly you will have to stake each tree. This because in your case surface rooting of the trees is very important due to the nature of the soil. Now if you take these basic principles in consideration you can grow fruit trees successfully.

What I would do in your situation is to plant now 2 apples, 2 plums, 2 pears. Definitely no cherries as these require more soil depth than any other fruit tree. This coming growing season you will then have the opportunity to observe the behaviour of these trees. Then on the knowledge gained, you can the plan next year’s plantings.

Provided you let me know within the next few days how many trees you will need, we will be able to supply the trees within a matter of days before the trees break into growth.

I hope this answers some of your questions. If you let me have your phone number and your full address we can always discuss further details by phone.

With kind regards,