realenglishfruit

Top fruit tree growing advice and information from Real English Fruit

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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.

Planning a new orchard

Well-rotted manure

Well-rotted manure. Photo courtesy The Word Factory Ltd/flickr.com

To create a successful multi fruit orchard, it is very important to carry out the various soil preparations during this time of the year. The winter months, the correct time to plant fruit trees, are often not good for soil preparation, as the soil is already too cold and handles badly. The quality of the soil in the planting hole will determine how quickly and how well the newly-planted tree settles down in its new home.

The rootstocks that you will be using depends on the space available for planting fruit trees. Dwarf rootstocks are recommended when limited space is available. If a good deal of space is available, then the trees would do best if planted on semi-vigorous stock such as MM106, Quince A and St Julien A. These trees need to be planted approximately 3.5 to 4 metres apart. The exact number of trees needed also depends on the proximity of other large trees, such as hedgerow trees, oak, ash and sycamore. Fruit trees do badly when planted on the live roots of other trees. Follow this link to find out more about tree size and rootstocks.

I think that it is a good idea to set out the orchard at this time of year, initially using 6-foot tall bamboo canes. This way you can mark the planting spots of your new trees, in relation to hedgerows, buildings etc.; it gives you an idea of how the new multi-fruit orchard will look. Variety choices can only be made once you have decided which type of fruit you want to plant. Follow this link to view a list of fruit tree varieties.

The ideal pH of the soil is 6.3 to 6.8. Outside those limits, nutritional deficiencies will occur when the trees get older. Fruit trees love well-rotted good organic stable manure, provided straw is used as a base material and not sawdust or wood chips. The more manure you can work into the ground during the summer months, the better the trees will perform in years to come.

Laxton Fortune

Laxton Fortune. Image courtesy Lathcoats Farm Shop/flickr.com

This is not a particularly large apple or a heavy cropping tree. It is a mid-season apple which ripens well on the tree in mid September. It has a wonderful taste and is sweet and particularly juicy when fully ripe. It needs to be pollinated well, as it is not self-fertile. Good pollinators are for example Red Pippin also called Fiesta, Red Falstaff and Egremont Russet to name a few. It is most suitable for growing on rootstock M26. It can then be planted within a reasonably small space. Keeping quality 3 to 4 weeks if kept really cool, such as in the bottom of the fridge.

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

Fruit picking and storage

Fruit almost ready for harvest

Only pick your fruits when the weather is dry. The net effect will be that the fruits keep better when stored in the cool for keeping. For immediate consumption or juicing, pick the fruit when the taste is to your liking, irrespective of weather conditions.

Pick apples which taste right, before they are fully mature. Store in a cool vermin-proof, dark place. Spread out in a single layer. Any sound but slightly damaged fruit needs to be eaten or juiced now. Only sound fruit should be stored for the longer term.