12 May 2015

The Fruit-full Garden

Morello cherry fruitlets. So pretty still with their little pink skirts! 


I was away for the whole of the last bank holiday weekend and returned to go straight back to work so, after five days away from the garden, I could really see a difference in the fruit. There's definitely signs of fruitlets forming on all the plum and pear trees.  The apple and quince calyces are reliably plump and fuzzy and the cherries look like being a bumper crop too.


Warm sunshine has really brought the strawberry plants on (loads of flowers!) and, thrilling times, I have tiny gooseberries forming for the first time! So far, I've counted only 4 strings of fruitlets on the redcurrant bush - I may need to buy another - and the Physalis (Cape Gooseberry) grown a couple of years ago is fully in leaf. This shrub is in an old potato sack and doing well; I wonder how it would do if I planted it in the soil - hopefully this will give it a boost resulting in bigger harvests!

My plan to reduce the number of Autumn Bliss raspberries in favour of the new Polka raspberries is a major fail.  Once they started growing, I hadn't the heart to dig them up, even though they're occupying the part of the space allocated to my new cut flower patch.  As the Polka canes have sent out a good amount of runners, I've left the sturdy ones and dug up only the spindly runners (inspired by my visit to the trial beds at Wisley). A few have been potted up for friends.  I think it's safe to say that the veg patch will be raspberry central again this summer. (heh, heh.)

Last year the pear fruitlets all fell off so I have fingers and toes crossed (metaphorically speaking) for this year - what else can I do? There are problems afoot though - the plum tree leaves are curling in on themselves again, as they did last year, and I was horrified to see blisters on the pear leaves.



By happy chance I discovered a pristine copy of the RHS Garden Problem Solver in my local library; it's a really informative and well illustrated book although a bit like those medical dictionaries that make you worry about contracting diseases that you're never likely to encounter. Or is that just me? (I worked as a medical secretary in my youth; it became quite nerve wracking.)  I was able to swiftly identify my pear leaf pest as 'pear leaf blister mite'. (So obvious when you know.) Apparently it doesn't harm the tree and it's best to remove infested leaves to minimise spread, as long as the affected leaves are just a few - remove more than a few and the tree won't be able to photosynthesise and will become very unhappy indeed.

The curling plum leaves are being attacked by - you guessed it - 'plum leaf curling aphid'. (I'm glad someone has given these pests practical names, so much easier than trying to remember Latin.)  The solution is to spray the leaves as they open which is all very well but not if you're an organic gardener as I am. As usual, I will resort to squishing and spraying with water, perhaps with a drop of (plant based) Ecover washing up liquid in it.

A bit of good news: As I pottered around the garden weeding yesterday I noticed a few ladybirds gathering at the base of the plum tree … those aphids could find their days are numbered.


Skimming through this again, I realise I forgot to mention the Honeyberry bushes. They're also doing nicely and will hopefully hold onto their blossom in the teeth of ferocious winds once more ripping through the garden today.



25 comments:

  1. I've just lost a lupin because of aphids, I think I was too vigorous when brushing them off. I've got oodles of fruit on both my cherry trees so no doubt the blackbirds will have a feast later on in the year. I might root out that book I could do with one on just pests & diseases! It's a lovely time of year isn't it with all of this new fruit forming & veg to plant out x

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    1. Aphids are the bane of my garden, Jo. I've even squished some off of my Geum this evening and I've had woolly aphids on the flower shoots of my purple kale. Grrrrrr! I dread to think what will happen when the broad beans start to grow! As I've kept my cherry trees quite short, I'm going to net them this year - there were a few beak nibbles last year!

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  2. Lovely to see those tiny fruits forming. I'm always surprised at how early the gooseberries start growing. Almost no pears here I fear, and certainly no plums. The trees can concentrate on putting on some growth this year, I shall expect something better next year though! I wouldn't have been able to pull out the raspberries either, but there's no such things as too many raspberries is there. I hope your pests disappear. I've picked off a few peach leaf curl leaves so far. I was hoping there wouldn't be any as April was so dry, but there have been a handful already. CJ xx

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    1. It's amazing the difference location makes - my neighbour who helps in the garden has the exact same gooseberry bush (Hinnonmaki Red, both bought from Morrisons); hers gets late afternoon/evening sunshine whereas mine gets morning sun and her bush leafed up weeks ahead of mine and is covered in berries! I've been saying the same about my plum and pear trees for the past 5 years. This may be their last chance. I'm beginning to imagine how nice a new espaliered pear tree would look ….. I'm hoping the coal tits flitting around the garden will help themselves to the aphids. They seem to have started on the buffet already - hooray! C xx

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  3. Hopefully those ladybirds are very hungry and get to go munching away very soon!

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    1. I live in hope, boys! I used to have loads of ladybirds in the garden but the aphids arrive long before the ladies these days. Must try see if I can remedy that.

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  4. Raspberry central sounds like a lovely place to be. I am interested in the honeyberry bush - I've never heard of these. Any pics?

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    1. Hi Bek, I planted Honeyberries after reading about them from Mark Diacono, an English gardener and writer. One of mine planted in a deep pot fruited a little bit last summer and I'm hoping for better things this year. The fruits start green then become a flat, matt purple, bell shaped fruit. You can read about them on the RHS website, here: https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?PID=728 The plant is related to honeysuckle, in Latin it's Lonicera caerulea. They became popular because, unlike blueberries (Vaccinum), honeyberries aren't fussy about soil ph.

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  5. It looks like you're going to have a bumper fruit harvest. There hasn't been much blossom on anything in my garden this year except the little peach tree, I fear it will be meagre pickings for me. I moved the two small apple trees from containers to the ground so perhaps they need a year to settle but there hasn't been any blossom at all on my plum tree, perhaps that would be happier in the ground too. You never know what to do for the best.

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    1. I had tons of blossom here, Jo, until the wind ripped through the garden. I think we'll be okay for cherries and apples again but the pears and plums are touch and go. (Mostly go, I think.) Growing fruit is still a mystery to me as to how to get a decent crop. I'm definitely interested in going to an RHS workshop on the subject!

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  6. An interesting, and helpful, post and terrific pictures. It certainly looks like being a good year for strawberries if the number of flowers are anything to go by. As I really like raspberries I'd have no problems with having that many. Flighty xx

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    1. I think raspberries are one of my favourite fruits, Flighty, and I was very impressed with the Polka raspberries last year. It looks good for the strawberries but then I have to watch out for slugs and birds - they're a bit quicker off the mark than me!

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  7. You sound as though you are going to have lots of lovely fruit. We have lots forming too, on blackcurrant, red currant and gooseberries. Also the tiny pears are beginning to grow, but I'm still searching for Damsons, they are the first to flower so should be showing surely. The weather was super when they flowered and bees were busy in the garden, but I live in hope. I also hope your ladybirds do their stuff!

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    1. The cherries here were the last to flower and the first to plump up so I'm not sure that blossom is anything to go by. I'd better see if I can spot any pears or plums plumping now that we've had several windy days.

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  8. Thanks for the reminder-I'll check out my blackcurrant bushes promptly.

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  9. Thanks for the reminder regarding problem fruit bushes Caro. I've tried 5 times to leave a comment so if this attempt succeeds you may need to re adjust the settings because others will be having the same issues.https://backlanenotebook.wordpress.com/

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    1. Well done for persevering to leave a comment, Sue. I'm not sure how to adjust the settings for comments. I think it's either wait for approval, fill out an annoying test, or let spammers have free reign. I'll leave the comments as they are for now and see how it goes. Thanks for the heads up though!

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  10. I struggle with the fruits. Blueberries I manage OK, but I have never had much of a crop from my Pear tree (record harvest 11), or my Apples. I did have a Plum tree once but it only ever produced about 3 plums before getting some horrible disease (Plum tree leaf-curling, flower-dropping, bark-blistering disease, probably!) and dying. Having said that, I usually manage a decent crop of Raspberries.

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    1. I too struggle with pears and plums, Mark. Not so much as a whiff of either has been seen in the six years since they arrived. I really think it may be time to whip them out and get some nice espaliered trees, in the hope that a warm wall would help.

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  11. Like you, I see some baby cherries on my tree - hopefully they weren't impacted by the cold night we just had when it went down to 0C. Our main cherry pest here is the plum curculio (a weevil), which attacks stone fruits. I had to get rid of about 1/3 of my first small harvest of cherries a couple of years ago because of them.

    I for one think that you are very lucky to be "raspberry central"! I've just finished planting several red & yellow raspberry canes this past weekend and hopefully they end up doing as well for me as yours obviously have for you!

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    1. That cherry pest sounds most unpleasant, Margaret. I've had ants all over the fruit in the past two years, I think where the birds peck at the ripe cherries, the juice attracts the ants. This year I'll be on standby with some nets - haha! I've started some yellow raspberries from bare roots this year and wish I had more room for extra canes - I do love my raspberries! I wish you luck with your raspberries!

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  12. It's so disappointing isn't it when treasure fruit is whipped off the tree....mine are all laden too and we have winds predicted, it seems to be the same story each year. I do hope you hang onto your pears and the leaf problems are sorted. I had leaf curl on my peach tree last year, it's back again and I've had to dig it up. You do look set for a wonderful harvest.xxx

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    1. Yes, why is it that winds come at the wrong time every year?! I've underplanted my trees to tempt bees to visit nearby and this autumn I'm putting bug hotels near all the fruit trees as well!! Why did you dig up your peach tree? I've looked up peach leaf curl and it's caused by spores overwintering on the bark that need rain to wash it onto opening buds to infect leaves. You can protect your tree in winter by covering it in polythene so that it stays dry. Hope you haven't thrown it out! xx

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  13. It's so exciting to see blossoms on your fruit trees just as the leaves are falling off mine in South Australia. I love the idea of too many raspberries -- they are my favourite fruit!

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    1. I also grow physalis (also known as Cape Gooseberry here) - the little round orange fruits in papery husk; grown from a seed, the taste was a revelation, really so much better than anything bought from the shops! Raspberries are a very close second though ;-)

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