Trimming vital to ensure good crop

Lord Derby.
Lord Derby.

I’ve always enjoyed growing top fruits, especially apples, and although examples of good returns each year from neglected trees do exist, there is a day of reckoning eventually, when vigour reduces and disease enters.

By shortening lateral growths to 15cms in July after fruits have set, we concentrate energy on crop development and start the maturing process on wood that will bear next year’s apples. Summer trim completed, it only remains to step in with the definitive prune during winter when those laterals are further reduced to three plump buds.

Black Hamburgh.

Black Hamburgh.

Discovery dessert apples were first to ripen as August ended, and leaving them on the tree is tempting fate as first come the blackbirds then wasps. James Grieve follows and harvesting is in a week or so. Both are self-fertile, reliable croppers and sweet to taste. Redlove is a newcomer, just launched five years ago, and red to the core. Our young tree has developed the first real crop of four dozen apples. Visually it’s superb but time will tell whether it’s a winner for taste.

No fruit on the young pear tree yet but the old Victoria has come good after a shaky start to the year with bowls-full of plums. Just a reminder that this is one you don’t prune this late in the year leaving unhealed wounds going into autumn/winter. Leave any serious trimming until next May/June.

Fruit crops growing under cover respond to TLC too. We’ve been feeding Maxicrop at fortnightly intervals to two tall coffee plants in the conservatory throughout summer. The result is deeper green leaves and a new flush of white, scented flowers. Beans will follow. Citrus (orange and lemon) trees that have been outside for summer should be brought indoors soon.

They’ll show their gratitude by flowering which leads to a new crop.

I’ve continued feeding and watering the greenhouse peach after cropping as usual. Now that can cease and we’ll tie in the new stems for next year. The Madeleine Angevine vine is dripping with bunches and there are also some on the Black Hamburgh. Both are deliciously sweet when ripe but do contain pips.

Thus the dilemma. I introduced a grafted, seedless newcomer in spring and the growth has been phenomenal. If Flame has large bunches and the taste promised one of the others will have to go. Decisions!