|Fruit Garden 2006|
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This page will include details of my fruit growing exploits as they
develop in 2006.
1 Oct - potted up three newly acquired currant bushes, one black, one red and one white. They don't look much at the moment as they're in their dormant stage. I've put them in pots as I will want to put them in my fruit cage (along with the existing blueberries), which I plan to get next year.
Sadly, this plant did not survive.
Golden Berry Pineapple (maybe better known as Cape Gooseberry or seen in the shops as Physalis).
5 June - potted up the first two plants to grow on in the potting shed.
19 June - finally potted up my last two golden berry, destined for the potting shed.
23 July - a mini disaster with the conservatory cape gooseberry which I could see needed extra support but I didn't realise it was resting heavily against neighbouring plants and was pinned to my giant cactus. Yes, the gooseberry snapped, the cactus fell over and left its pot and spawned several babies on the floor. So I've now got a repotted cactus plus four new cactus plants and a rather messy but strapped together cape gooseberry (over 4 feet tall).
25 July - harvested my first 12 fruits from the two "oldest" plants in the potting shed.
6 Aug - still harvesting lots of fruits from these two plants and some from the one in the hanging basket in the greenhouse. Seems those in the smallest pots are proving the best. Those in the bigger pots (8 inch was recommended) have grown to a enormous size and the fruit is slow and more sparse. A point to note for next year!
14 Aug - I've got trouble in the conservatory - the bug that first attacked my melon pears in the potting shed has now appeared in profusion in the conservatory and now the plants are too big and have too many leaves to clean the bugs off by hand. So, much as it pains me to destroy plants I have lovingly nurtured from seed, this unidentified bug is just spreading, so drastic measures are required. I had to remove my giant physalis - yes, the one I spent ages saving on 23 July. This really hurt as it was covered in fruit, but some of the fruit was covered in bugs.
20 May - potted blueberry bushes have flowered but I'm not sure how successful the pollination has been between my male and female bush. If I ever buy them again, I'll go for the self-fertile variety. To encourage fruit development I topped up the pots with some fresh ericaceous compost. Maybe I need to net them to stop blackbirds eating any berries.
13 July - spotted six ripe blueberries, but when I went back to get them to top our ice cream, four had disappeared! I guess a bird has it's beady eyes on this bush, so I ate the remaining two (just to check the flavour - yum, yum).
14 July - netted the two blueberry pots today, in an attempt to save the fruit for us!
30 July - my netting was ineffective, most of the blueberries have been eaten by blackbirds nesting in nearby bushes. What I need is a fruit cage.
24 Oct - my Gardener's World free blueberry plant arrived last Thursday and I potted it up today in ericaceous compost, mixed with a bit of sand, being careful to water it in with rainwater.
27 Apr - I thought these three sticks in the ground would never come to anything, but here's the first signs of growth.
26 May - fixed the first support wire for my raspberry canes. Only two out of the three have grown, the third seems to be dead.
12 July - I thought these were autumn raspberries, but I have had a couple of ripe ones already. They are yellow, large, not pippy and taste exquisite!
8 Aug - gave my two surviving raspberry canes a feed with sulphate of potash.
23 Oct - a handful of very tasty golden raspberries, will be gorgeous with a bit of ice cream.
14 May - I have spotted the dreaded gooseberry sawfly on my gooseberry bush. Luckily, it only stripped a couple of branches so not too much damage. I have read that they succumb easily to treatment so I've sprayed them with Bug Off. Still need to keep a look-out through until September though.
20 May - Gooseberries growing well. To encourage them I topped up the pot with some fresh ericaceous compost.
5 June - Picked my first crop of over 100 gooseberries, found what looks like a yummy recipe for Gooseberry Yoghurt Fool.
2 July - Oh no! More sawfly caterpillars having a good munch on my gooseberry bush. Crow harvested a pound of gooseberries and helped me find the pests!
13 July - One thing for sure - I'm not brave enough to make my living as a gooseberry picker - the thorn are lethal! I've harvested all the remaining gooseberries (800g). That's three good helpings we had, almost 3lb in all - not bad from one bush in it's first fruiting year.
Or Solanum Muricatum to give its proper name. I do like to grow things I can't buy in the supermarket or greengrocers. This exotic plant is a native of South America. It has blue flowers and juicy fruits that taste like honeydew melons. It's not a melon at all, but part of the tomato/potato family. I've read that "the beautiful purple-striped, egg-shaped fruit of the Pepino Melon is mild and sweet with a flavour reminiscent of cantaloupe. Fruits in about 9 months from seed." I've cheated and bought three small plants which I potted up today (28 March), but I have now found a seed supplier for the future.
9 May - I think the first flowers are appearing....
27 May - Although these plants have grown well, they seem to have attracted some kind if bug which I'm struggling to banish. Because it's not a common plant, I can't seem to find any advice either. Whatever it is, I fear it has put a stop to the flower development.
1 June - Still struggling to rid these plants of this unknown bug. I tried spraying them a week or so ago and that didn't work, so I've tried to remove the bugs by hand tonight.
11 June - There is slight hope (I think) for my melon pears. I've had them in the car port for a week, sprayed them again and I think the bug they were harbouring is leaving. Of course, that could just mean it's done all of its damage and it's time to move on.... Anyway, they have become quite large, so I've re-potted all three with support stakes in the hope they will produce after all.
22 July - My melon pear pepinos which were banished to the carport covered in bugs seem to have survived and are now flowering again.
19 Oct - The greenhouse is now clear of everything except my three potted melon pears which I have moved in there for extra warmth. They were not really developing in the car port.
24 Oct - new fruits and flowers are now appearing on these plants every day and one is definitely ripening, despite the fact that many leaves are turning yellow and dropping off.
17 Jan - Planted up a second big strawberry pot today. I bought my first strawberry plants last year. They didn't bear much fruit in their first season, but provided many runners to make new plants. So now I still have my original three small pots, plus two big planters of newly propagated plants for this year's crop. I've moved the new planters out of the greenhouse and under some netting in the garden, raised from the soil on bricks. The original three pots are still hanging in my greenhouse.
9 May - strawberry troughs are well advanced and flowering.
11 May - Released my two strawberry troughs from their net enclosure as they are flowering and need pollination. Will go back under cover eventually, to stop the birds getting the fruit.
11 June - quite a few strawberries ripening including one giant one! Also one or two runners - the start of next year's new plants.
13 June - highlight of the day was eating the first of this season's strawberries. If you've never had a fresh home-grown english strawberry, still warm from the sun, you're missing something!
18 June - potted up four strawberry runners - the start of next year's new plants.
25 July - don't know if I took these four runners from the mother plant too early or it was too hot in the potting shed for them, but they all perished.
10 Oct - it's unseasonably warm this week (I'm not complaining) but the weather has thrown one of my strawberry plants into confusion. I picked a ripe strawberry from this plant a couple of days ago and now it has flowers and more fruit trying to ripen.
We have wild blackberry bushes in our paddock and wood and one near the chicken run.
3 Sep - Crow was out in the paddock harvesting the first blackberries, over a pound which went in blackberry, apple & pear jam.
13 Sep - another 2 pound of blackberries, so more preserving resulted in 3 jars of hot blackberry chutney.
3 Oct - the last of the blackberries were harvested today.
Existing fruit trees
12 Jan 2006 - Want to feed and mulch the existing three fruit trees, so I have cleared the grass and weeds from about a square metre of ground at the base of each tree. I think the dessert apple tree maybe suffered from apple scab last year, but there as so many possible pests and diseases, I could be wrong. I will need to watch it closely this year from blossoming to see if there are any suspect bugs around. Pruning next week!
4 Apr - weeded the ground around the pear and two apple trees and gave then a sulphate of potash feed. Also cleared ground around the cherry plum to give similar feed.
2 June - Have bought a plum moth trap to protect the cherry plum tree, but I've put it in the unidentified fruit tree near the bedroom window as it looked plum-like and was attacked by what might have been plum moths last year. The trap comes with a refill to be used in five weeks time, protecting the tree from June to the end of August.
4 June - Determined to safeguard my fruit crop, I installed a Codling Moth trap to protect the apple trees. I tried to buy another plum moth trap for the cherry plum tree but the local garden centre had sold out. However, as I was leaving, I spotted a green plant tray in their freebie bin, in the same material as the traps already purchased. So I picked that up and made my own trap from it, using the refill from the first plum moth trap. It's a bit lop-sided, but will do the job just as well. Just need to pick up a refill pack to refresh both traps in July.
23 July - I refreshed the apple and plum moth traps with new pheromone traps. Hardly anything in the apple one, but both plum moth traps had caught a lot of something!
24 July - a walk around the fruit trees revealed the following progress:
All of these seem to be doing very well. I have to keep an eye on the established eating apple tree as it is prone to the odd fruit rotting before it's ripe. The new Jonagold has nine apples and is the only "performer" from the new tree crop. The cherry plum has suffered some kind of aphid attack, but there is fruit ripening, although not nearly as much as last year. The unidentified plum-like (greengage?) tree is laden with fruit and looks healthier than last year.
6 Aug - picked the first cooking apples for my apple & plum chutney.
8 Aug - Gave all six fruiting trees a feed with sulphate of potash, lightly raked and watered in with 14 litres of rain water per tree.
9 Aug - Crow pruned the cherry plum tree for me. It has virtually no fruit at the top and if it did, it would be well out of reach for picking, so I hope that pruning the top will put more energy into the fruit developing on the lower branches.
10 Aug - Our first ripe fruit fell from the mystery tree today. It looked like a green plum. I cut it open to reveal a stone so it still looked like a green plum. I tasted it and I'm convinced it is a greengage. The remainder of the fruit is not quite ripe yet but there is an awful lot of it!
28 Aug - The greengages are getting too ripe now, but we harvested the last usable 4.5 lb. By my rough calculation I think I ate, jammed, froze and pickled my way through 35 lb in all. We've also had over 7 lb of cooking apples so far, and I picked the first 5 dessert apples today.
29 Aug - I picked and ate my first pear. Quite crunchy, but I hate a soft pear! I'll be picking more soon.
3 Sep - After strong wind for two days, I thought I'd better check the orchard for windfall apples and pears. Managed to salvage 4 pears for eating and 4 more for cooking. The rest had been nibbled by the rabbits (should have thought to check yesterday). No apples had dropped but I picked 4 dessert apples. Then I had to come back and pick 5 cooking apples as Crow had been out in the paddock harvesting the first blackberries.
5 Sep - Crow mowed in the orchard and weeded around three of the new fruit trees for me. The new Jonagold is still sporting nine ripening apples.
20 Sep - harvested the first four pounds of cherry plums and froze them in syrup for future desserts.
21 Sep - 7 pounds of cherry plums destined to make 7 jars of plum & blackberry jam and 6 jars of plum & blackberry chutney.
24 Sep - 4 pounds of cherry plums and 6 jars of apple & plum chutney.
3 Oct - the last 3lb 9 oz of cherry plums and (on 7 Oct) another 7 jars of plum & apple chutney.
19 Oct - Crow picked our remaining 40 pears and 14 cooking apples. I've still got the apples to pick on the new Jonagold. They don't seem ready to drop yet.
New Fruit tree planting
On 31 December 2005, we planted our first fruit tree - a Cox's Orange Pippin apple. Crow dug a hole, two foot square and two spade lengths deep. We part filled this to planting depth with our own well rotted horse manure compost, then sunk in a 1.5m round wooden tree support. Having soaked the tree roots prior to this, I then positioned the tree alongside the stake with a drainage bottle and added a helping of FeedAll for good luck. We continued to fill the hole with compost, treading it in, until the last layer which was left loose. Finally, I tied the tree to its support with a SoftTie in a figure of eight and rainwatered it in. Tomorrow, I will apply a generous layer of shredded bark mulch to discourage weed growth, which would deny moisture to the tree. This will also hide the top of the drainage bottle.
The drainage bottle is an attempt to get moisture directly down to tree root level, especially in spring/summer when hand watering may be required and when top watering in dry spells could encourage the roots upwards, rather than down. I simply took an empty 2 litre water bottle and cut the bottom off. I then reinforced the interior with chicken wire, to stop it collapsing under the soil pressure. It was then planted alongside the tree with its base at root level and it's top protruding slightly from the soil. Now, when I water, I can unscrew the bottle cap, pour water into the bottle and it will feed out at root level. Never tried it before, but looks plausible.... Hope it works.... Only four more trees to go!
1 January 2006 - three more fruit trees planted, Jonagold apple, Elstar apple and Victoria Plum. Crow prepared a fourth hole for the Cherry Summer Sun, but it rapidly half-filled up with water, so I have deferred this planting until I see what happens in the hole in the next couple of days.....
5 Jan - rightly or wrongly, I planted the Cherry Summer Sun today. Concerned about it lasting much longer in the tack room, as the instructions said it could only be kept like this for about a week. Really I think it's too cold and the ground is too waterlogged, but can't see it getting any warmer or dryer in the foreseeable future. Added a good helping of horticultural grit to this extra wet hole and fingers crossed!
9 Jan - read that rabbits can kill new young trees by nibbling at their soft bark, so we've been out protecting the new trees with chicken wire enclosures.
12 Jan - finished protecting the new trees today, but sadly one of them has suffered a rabbit attack. Look at the stripped bark! This means that this tree (Elstar apple) will probably not survive as moisture and nutrients will not be able to travel up the trunk.
13 Jan - Now realise that the mulch should not be touching the young fruit tree bark, so have had to improvise some further protection. Used plastic bottles and inner sleeves from knitting cotton. Bottles probably more durable but may encourage unwanted moisture. Cardboard sleeves probably won't last long. Will see how they fare.
14 Jan - Painted the Elstar apple with Prune & Seal to try to help protect the damaged bark.
3 Apr - it's been very mild and quite wet for the last week and all of the new fruit trees are budding. With overnight temperatures forecast down to -3C this week, I'm giving them overight protection.
My first year at Longfield and the fruit garden was a combination of inherited trees and new plants which I introduced. We also inherited some excellent rhubarb.
I planted blueberries which yielded a few juicy fruits, and a gooseberry bush which will not fruit until next year.
The remainder of fruit came from inherited trees in our orchard: two apples trees, one pear tree and a cherry plum tree.
The apple trees were not a great success. One seems to be a cooking type apple and generated some reasonable fruit. The other is a dessert apple but seemed to be suffering some kind of bug attack and most of the fruit was spoilt. However that which wasn't, was very tasty. In Autumn I protected them with grease bands to hopefully ward of winter moth/bug nesting. Got to learn about pruning though!
The pear tree was extremely successful! It doesn't look very old but was a prolific fruit provider - so much so that many of the young branches broke under the weight of pears.
Similarly, the cherry plum tree produced far more fruit than I could ever use, although I was very late in successfully identifying it as an edible fruit tree. I picked fifteen pound of plums for jam and chutney making, but more than that had to be left on the tree.
When I left work, one of my leaving presents was garden vouchers and I ordered five new fruit trees, three dessert apple (Cox's Orange Pippin, Elstar and Jonagold) and two stone-fruit (Cherry Summer Sun and Plum Victoria). To my horror they arrived on December 23rd! I'm trying to keep them safely in the tack room as planting is delayed, first by Christmas and now by the seasonal snow being dropped on our doorstep. Who knows how successful I will be?
I've also just planted three raspberry canes, which should yield fruit next Autumn.