14 Jun 2014

Tree Following, June

As part of Lucy's Tree Following group, I've chosen to observe the fruit trees growing in the veg patch garden; here's where we are in mid-June.

So what shall we have first: the good news or the bad? Let's get the not-so-positive stuff out of the way.

Looks like these will be the only 'pears' I get this year - 

two tiny quince.
It's definitely not shaping up to be the fruit bonanza that all the early blossom promised.  My hopes for some plums this year, if not pears, have been dashed.  Last month, the plum tree had lots of tiny fruits, about 5mm long, but also lots of aphids causing the leaves to curl.  This month, no fruitlets. Just crispy, browned leaves.  So that's that for another year. I am slightly disappointed but have that gardener's mentality that these things  happen, nothing I can do about it for now and there's plenty more to enjoy in the garden.

Being me, I have tried to look into possible causes of the problem and have read that plums need to be pruned in the summer, after fruiting, in order to encourage fruiting wood for next year. I didn't prune them last year. They are also better off in a south or west facing location, mine are east facing which won't help.  If I remember right, the trees are grown on a semi-dwarfing rootstock so shouldn't get taller than 15 ft. Given the size of them now, I'm not convinced that's strictly correct. In any case they could do with having the crowns opened up so, in July, after I've finished college, the loppers are coming out.

The pear trees also have no fruit and need pruning but that will have to wait until they're dormant in the winter months. Good advice from the RHS here. The RHS also state that pears fruit better when grown with a different but compatible cultivar. We have two Conference pears so I might think about taking one out and replacing it.  Pear trees should fruit within four years; the trees here are coming up to seven years old.  I really want them to fruit because the trees are otherwise healthy with good, solid trunks. Taking one out really has to be a final option.

So no pears, no plums.  But the apples are looking good.  There are two Braeburn apple trees, growing too close together and leaning towards each other.  Hindsight is a wonderful thing and I wish I'd known how important it is to stake young trees for the first 3 years (minimum) of their lives.  On the bright side, in decades to come, maybe these two will graft together and people will marvel at a single tree with two legs!

There seems to be a good number of apples left, quite a few have dropped off onto the soil - the so-called 'June drop' in May?  In the past two years there were few enough fruits that I could - and did - count them. (I like to know what's happening when my back is turned!) 19 apples last year. (I got to eat two of those, and delicious they were too.) This year I reckon it will be around 40 to 50 over both trees if they all ripen. They're growing fast as well.  Here's what they looked like at the beginning (7th) and end (25th) of May.



And here's yesterday's photo, taken on Friday the 13th as dusk fell under a full Honey moon:


Last year's orange and cream nasturtiums crossed so I've got lots of gorgeous salmon pink nasturtiums sprouting up in the veg patch. These are the long trailing type so I'm encouraging a few to start growing up the apple trees as companion plants, rather in the way that these are growing up the alliums.


So that just leaves the cherry trees. Rather worryingly I noticed a few weeks ago that lots of the fruit was turning brown and dropping off. And I do mean lots - this is not even a tenth of the lost fruit.


This also happened last year but they went on to produce not only a bumper crop but a second autumn blossoming.  Yes, I know. Weird.  It seems there's plenty of fruit left on the tree but, looking back at last year's photos, I don't think there's as much.

Goodness, this is a dreadful photo! I'll try and take another one to replace it. :)
Cherry tree corner is another area that needs tidying and summer pruning.  (Cherry trees - and other stone fruit - should always be pruned, where needed, in the summer after fruiting to avoid silver leaf fungus getting a hold.) There is an excellent, easy to follow article here. (Will open in new tab/window.)


This tree needs to have the lower branches taken right back (or possibly taken off altogether) as they're arching way out from the tree and are too spindly. I've been adding plants to the area around the tree over the past couple of years; the clematis was last year's addition and I'm pleased with the way that it's spiralled up the support and is now growing around the tree. Until last week it was hidden by the suckers growing from the rootstock base of the tree.  I removed those as I was pretty sure they weren't doing the tree any favours with the bonus that we can now see the clematis properly. They like to have their roots kept cool and moist and that job is being done by strawberries and Jacob's Ladder polemonium.  It wasn't intentional as I hadn't realised what a prolific self-seeder Jacob's Ladder is - moving them is a job for another day and I'm grateful that they're providing a useful purpose in the garden.

Last year I was making cherry compote by the end of July, hopefully it will be the same this year and then the pruning can begin in August.





26 comments:

  1. Following the plant's growth is so interesting. Especially, plants that I couldn't find here in my country. Your fruit trees are so interesting to be noticed. I love to know something new.
    BTW your nasturtium looks so beautiful. I have sowed nasturtium seedd on January, they have germinated and sprouted, but the sprouts were suddenly dried.That was my first experience. I want to try sowing the nasturtium seeds once again. Would you like to share me some tips on growing nasturtium?
    Thank you for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Endah, sounds like your nasturtiums were scorched by the sun. In your tropical climate, I'd try giving them a tiny bit of light shade. Also nasturtiums prefer to grow in poor soil. If the soil is too rich for them, you get a lot of leaves but not many flowers. The leaves are edible, as are the flowers but you need to pick them small, rather when they look like lily pads! Once you get one nasturtium to grow in your garden, leave the flowers at the end of the season to drop their seeds and you'll never be without nasturtiums again. Hope this helps!

      Delete
  2. The birds have left me several choice looking specimens on my cherry tree, what the birds didn't take have fallen off! Your apples are looking good though, & that nasturtium colour is divine, it looks quite elegant!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think it's the birds that are pecking off the ripening cherries as well as the kids here. Really, it's a wonder that there's anything left by the end of the summer! It really annoys me when kids just pick things (flowers, fruit, whatever) just out of mindless vandalism. The apples are always a winner, and yes, I love that nasturtium colour, it's less brash than the standard orange. I wonder if I've invented a new nasturtium colour? :)

      Delete
  3. Our pears had lots of pearlets which dropped when the weather was bad. We have three different compatible varieties growing alongside one another.

    As for plums we have never pruned ours, although are thinking of doing this to reduce the height, ever other year we get a bumper crop. This year should have been a lean year but we had lots of plumlets and then the plum aphid struck - usually we give the trees a winter wash using a vegetable oil based product and that works. Unfortunately this year we didn't that. Usually the aphids disappear over summer and bnew leaves grow so the tree will be OK,

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Does the plum aphid destroy any plumlets, Sue? I've had aphids for the past couple of years on the plum trees and no fruit. It was really frustrating this year to get lots of little fruits forming, only to have everything go brown. I've never winter washed the fruit trees, just let nature take its course, so perhaps I should try doing this and see if it makes a difference. The aphids have disappeared now from the tree.

      Delete
    2. Our large tree drops most of the fruit when attacked. It keeps some on unaffected branches but often the fruit is distorted. No green leaves means no food production for the tree. You may be interested in this link http://ossettweather.com/glallotments.co.uk/winterwash.html on my website. The winter wasjh works as when we use it the trees are fine.

      Delete
    3. Thanks for the link and advice, Sue. Always so helpful to tap into someone's experience of these problems. I'll give the winter wash a go this year. If no fruit, I'll be considering replacing at least one pear tree with another apple variety.

      Delete
  4. Never mind the plums and pears, looks like it will be an apple year for you. And cherries :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! Hope so! Cherries won't be for me though as I have a neighbour who helps out who really likes sour cherries!

      Delete
  5. Hi Caro - on the cherries, it sounds like cherry run off. For the plums, I know aphids can cause fruit drop in soft fruit, so I am wondering if it might cause it in young top fruit plants too, but like Sue says, weather can be a problem - so can lack of water. Although some parts of the UK have had such rain this year, we haven't and our soil has been worryingly dry for some months. The other suspect is one of the moths which can affect plums. Have you seen any maggots in the dropped fruit?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Sarah, thanks for all your suggestions! I've looked up cherry run off - I get this as well as some of the fruits going brown. I think my problem is that the soil needs to have more mulch put around the tree in late autumn and regular watering after a dry summer (a problem here as I have no tap). Also, with all the rain we had earlier this year, a lot of the nutrients will have been washed from the soil so the trees would be less vigorous than expected. The plum fruit that you asked about wasn't big enough to have maggots in it. Hope the lack of water hasn't affected your crops too badly.

      Delete
  6. An interesting post and photos. I'm not doing a Tree Following post this month but have enjoyed reading yours. I hope that you do do end up with some fruit despite the problems. Flighty xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm fairly certain of getting some apples, Flighty. It just seems such a waste of space to have 4 trees that are shading out other plants yet producing nothing!

      Delete
  7. I've increased the fruit I'm growing but I really need to learn how to care for it all properly now, including pruning. It all seems so complicated, one thing needs doing in summer, another in winter, I'll never keep track of it all. I think I shall have to make myself a set of notes. My little plum tree is doing well but the cherry, which is a little larger, hardly has any fruit on it at all, though I wasn't expecting much as there wasn't much blossom either.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Making notes is an excellent idea, Jo. Not only do you need to find out the best time to prune your fruit but also whether it's tip or spur bearing and whether it fruits on new wood or old! A minefield but the RHS site is a good place to start! - and many trees don't need pruning at all very often.

      Delete
  8. Sorry to hear that not all your fruit trees are not producing well despite the good blossom. You can never tell what's going to happen in gardening can you? Your apples look promising. Sarah x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I give myself credit for keeping everything alive, even if it's not fruiting, Sarah! If everything turned brown and crispy, I'd really know it was time to give up! Cx

      Delete
  9. What a shame about your plums, it's awful to see all the fruit fall away isn't it, I lost lots of pears to drop in bad weather and was tempted to super glue them back on! I still have lots of plums and appleas ....fingers crossed.xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah, I'm very envious of anyone that has a productive plum tree; they are my favourite fruit, straight from the tree and warmed by the sun. Still, fingers cross that in years to come, I'll be one of those tree owners!

      Delete
  10. There's always something for us gardeners. I only have an apple tree and so far this year looks good. There hasn't been too much of a drop. The problem for my fruit is wasps. Last year we had so many eating the apples before we could get to them. I'm toying with the idea of putting tights over the fruit or maybe little bags of enviromesh in the hope it'll keep the wasps away!!! I'm so jealous of your cherries - they're probably my favourite fruit. Hope you have a lovely weekend. x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think the apples here will do well again, Welly. I wonder why some fruit thrive and others don't - so frustrating! Cherries are such an attractive fruit, I love the look of them but so do all the people who pass through the garden! You wouldn't believe how many fruits I find on the ground after people discover they're sour cherries!! Netting your apples sounds like a good idea to me; goodness, if it's not wasps it's something else! We don't have an easy life of it!

      Delete
  11. Thank you for this post as we had leaf curl this year on our damson tree. It doesn't seem to have affected the fruit, but we will prune it back hard after we have harvested the fruit.
    It always gives us a load and the year before last we had close on 54 pounds. We pruned then and only had 12pounds last year but that was enough for us.
    Looked back at your Chelsea post, thank you for the photos. I haven't been for years so it was lovely to see the gardens and read your comments. Better than the BBC!
    Keep digging!
    Chris

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Chris, thanks for popping in and thank you for your kind comments. I think the trick with all trees is to keep them open so that light and air can reach all the branches and develop the fruit. There's a lot of conflicting information out there about pruning but I think if you stick to the right time of year and open up your tree, you can't go far wrong. Apples, of course are different as you need to know whether they're spur or tip bearing - if you prune tip bearers, you'll be pruning out the next year's fruit!

      Delete
  12. Our apple tree is 3 years old now and a lot of our apples have black spots on thus year and the leaves turning brown in places - sure it's got some kind of buggleeee on it, such a shame as we only have one tree! I would love a plum tree - one for next year maybe :) x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Annie, All kinds of nasties have been attacking the garden this year - whether pests or viruses. It sounds like your apple tree has black scab, an airborne fungal infection. The fruit might still be edible but will need peeling but any infected branches should be pruned out. A good article from the RHS on this is here: http://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?pid=81
      I'd love a PRODUCTIVE plum tree and am seriously considering getting one of those small potted plums that grow in a nice tall column for my balcony next year!

      Delete

Comments on my posts are much appreciated and help to build an online community of blog friends. Everyone is welcome! I love to discover new blogs so please leave a comment to introduce yourself.
Caro x

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...