Gathering your own fruit is one of life’s little pleasures, in my childhood most gardens would have at the very least, an apple or pear tree. I am a little ashamed to say this now, but as kids we knew where all the good trees were and ﬁlled our pockets with raided fruit, especially on the way home, in my defense a lot were hanging over the back fence.
The basic needs for all fruit trees are pretty much the same, a warm sunny site, protection from strong wind and good drainage. Excess water pooling around the roots is often the primary reason that trees will struggle to ﬂourish. Stake the trees when they are young, but both the stake and the ties need to be removed once the tree has established a strong, main truck. I have been called to prune many trees where the stakes and the ties have been left on too long. Ties don’t always break off and the tree grows around them causing bulges and bark damage.
There are a few considerations when buying fruit trees, although some plums are self–fertile, most do need another plum tree to pollinate it. The bulk of the fruit tree come in to store when they are bare of leaves, this is in late June through to July. There is usually a bit of stock left over after the main selling time but your choices are limited, so get in early especially if you are after a plum like Luisa, as this is incredibly popular. Pears also require a pollinator; we have a chart in store to make life easier. With this in mind it pays to keep a record of what your varieties of fruit trees you have, if ever need to replace them.
Sometimes we get asked about the crop being smaller one year than the next, this is a common occurrence and apart from the health of the tree it can often be due to pollination.
Bees are required for pollination and if it’s wet, cold and windy pollination can be hindered.
It is important to remember that not all fruit will thrive in our humid climate, peaches, nectarines and apricots are difﬁcult to keep disease free. Be realistic about the aime you are willing to spend on them.
Fruit trees need maintenance; be proactive rather than reactive with your pest and disease control. There are a few steps that can be taken before you start a spray program, in particular for the Codlin and Guava moth.
Hang pheromone traps in the trees September through to March, they aren’t a poison rather a trap that catches the bug and helps to break the breeding cycle. As a secondary control apply grease bands around the trucks of your trees, as larvae crawls up the tree, they become stuck in the bands. There are ready made ones or you can make you own. Use on old stocking, corrugated cardboard or hessian, smear with Vaseline or any sticky substances then tie around the truck of the tree at about 1 m high. Inspect regularly, destroy and then replace with a new trap. Remove fallen fruit, the insect completes its lifecycle in the soil ready to infect the tree again.