30 Jun 2013

We have fruit!

Apples
Braeburn apples

Earlier in the year, as gales threatened the prolific blossom on the fruit trees, I wondered whether the small numbers of bees would have had enough time to pollinate the blossom before it blew away.

Last year an early unseasonably warm spell followed by extended bad weather put paid to any fruit forming on the trees.  But this year I had optimistically hoped for a reasonable fruit harvest.

My fruit trees are now 4 or 5 years old and it can take several years for plums and pears to start cropping. The Braeburn apple trees gave us a small handful of fruit a couple of years ago (but nothing last year) and the Morello cherry trees seem to have fruited well but, who knows, most of the fruit falls or, I suspect, is eaten by birds. The pear and plum trees have never yielded a single fruit ... so far.

Last weekend, I was very excited to notice the signs of fruit to come. Raspberries, tons of strawberries (all the plants seem to be incredibly healthy this year), redcurrants, cherries, apples - but it looks like the plums and pears didn't make it ...


And to munch on in the meantime, a hedgerow snack of the seedpods of a rather beautiful Sweet Cicely plant. (If you like the taste of aniseed.)

Cicely n Seeds


Do you remember the lemon tree that I brought in from the cold 18 months ago? It continues to live behind glass on the stairwell outside my flat and has recently produced several flowers which are slowly becoming tiny lemons.  A novelty, I'm sure, but still lovely to see!

Lemons, maybe

By next year, I hope I'll be able to add more fruit to this list as I've planted out a rhubarb (Glaskins Perpetual, grown from seed) which has taken very well, a red gooseberry bush and a Honeyberry bought new this year at the RHS show in February. I'm not expecting fruit this year but should have some strange bell-shaped blueberry tasting fruit  next year. It's a plant that Mark Diacono highly recommends in his book 'A Taste of the Unexpected' so expectations are high.

I've also added a Chilean Guava (Ugni molinae) earlier this year. It's growing in a pot so that it doesn't get overwhelmingly large - in due course these plants can reach 2 metres high in the right conditions. It fruits in the winter so that's another one to look forward to, possibly next year, hopefully this one.

Lastly, I've just planted out a Chinese Gooseberry (Physalis), grown from seed in a pot where it lived on my balcony last  year.  It has the most wonderfully soft, velvety leaves that I loved to stroke (!) so I'll miss it now that it's downstairs.  It didn't fruit so it's now gone outside where its roots can stretch out for nutrients and feed the plant to provide some flowers and then fruit.  It's perennial so hopefully won't grow too large! (and I can always grow another touchy-feely one for my balcony!)



I've just realised that it's the end of the month - June! gone already!! - so I'll post twice today and try to get an end of month view up.



12 comments:

  1. I find that growing fruit is much more of a challenge than growing veg. Particularly with things like apples and pears, where you only get once chance per year. I had no pears at all last year but this year they are looking good - I think I have 17 fruits on my tree (a slim Minarette). As for apples - none at all. I have pruned my tree very carefully this year in the hope of a harvest next year. I agree on the Strawberries - a good year for them. Blueberries are not so good though. I'll be very interested to hear how the Honeybery does. Might get one myself...

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    1. I've often wondered about having one of those slim fruit trees; do they grow tall, I wonder? I gave my apple tree a good prune last year and had the new growing shoots covered in aphids! But it has given the tree a new vigour for this year. Hope it works for you too! All my blueberry bushes (3 new plus the honeyberry) are too new to fruit - they do like a good acidic soil; did you top yours up with ericaceous compost? Will let you know how the honeyberry gets on - it grows in normal soil pH which was a big plus for me!

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  2. I'll be interested to see how the honeyberry performs. How exciting to have lemons to pick!

    I wish our raspberries were healthy - the dead canes are our major disappointment of the year!

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    1. Hello Sue, lovely to hear from you but really sorry to hear about your raspberry canes - and you're such an experienced gardener. I wonder what happened to them? Was it the extreme winter, do you think? I've certainly had to pull out less runners this year than last year. I also chopped the canes to the ground this spring whereas in the past I've left a few of the canes at 40cm high - and had earlier fruit as a result. This year the plants are very bushy but not so tall. It's all a bit of a gamble really.

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  3. Not much fruit for me this year. I had high hopes for cherries but there's only a handful on the tree, not worth netting so I suppose the birds will get to the few I've got before I do. My apple and plum trees are too new to fruit and the rhubarb was only planted out this year so I didn't take any stems from it. I've got more blueberries on my plants than I first thought though, and the strawberries, even though only planted this year, look to be doing ok, so at least I'll have something to harvest.

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    1. We have Morello cherries here, Jo. I'm not partial to the taste so the fruit all goes to a friend who enjoys tart fruit and, needless to say, the tree is loaded with cherries! This year may just be the year I have to get the nets out! I'd love to have lots of blueberries, lucky you! I hope that bushes planted this year will provide plenty of fruit in years to come. And thank goodness for strawberries!

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  4. You are certainly doing well with all your fruit, you have a marvellous selection. Your lemon tree is doing well, I used to have one but found the only way to get plenty of fruit was to dose it with bright blue fertiliser which rather put me off. Not before we had enough one year to make 3 jars of scrumptious Lemon Curd! What I laughingly call " the orchard ", are 10 Minarette trees of apple, pear, damson,greengage and plum, 2 of each variety. No damsons again this year, due to it being so cold therefore no bees when they were flowering. I must do it myself in future with a paint brush, buzzing as I go!

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    1. Haha! Love the thought of you pretending to be a bee, Pauline! This is the second time this week that I've come across Minarette fruit trees and I like the sound of them very much! I think we might have been better off with these as, despite promises of contained 12ft growth, our plums/pears are getting tall already! My lemon tree is watered with a citrus feed from early summer as I've read this is the thing to do - I'd love to get enough lemons to make lemon curd with!!

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  5. Fingers crossed it looks like being a good year for fruit. I keep thinking about getting a dwarf apple tree.
    Today I noticed that my first raspberries are turning red, and there are lots of them.
    You're certainly growing a couple of more unusual plants! Flighty xx

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    1. Ah, you're a bit ahead of me, Flighty. Raspberries here are nowhere near ready to eat - just a few small green fruit showing - but then they are Autumn Bliss! I'd quite like a dwarf fruit tree for my balcony - they seem a very good space saving way to grow your own fruit!

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  6. Caro, you should know that collecting fruit trees and bushes can be a VERY dangerous addiction ;)

    We have a little citrus tree that grows in the conservatory - it produces a handful of tiny orange fruit every year but I've seen the smallest of Lemon trees produce full sized fruit. Yours for Lemonade in August? :)

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    1. Haha! yes, I feel myself going down that road, Tanya! I stood by the wall at the end of the gardens last weekend; I could feel the warmth that the bricks had absorbed and thought "this would make a great spot for an apricot or fig tree" ! I'm really hoping that the lemons on the tree will reach a good size this year - last year, they were pulled off by the small boy that lives upstairs. C'est la vie .... !

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