Friday, May 26

Early Promise - Plot Fruit

If you want your plot to provide a good return on your gardening expenses then fruit is indeed the cash cow. Soft fruit is very expensive to buy and generally sold in relatively small amounts, however, rather than saving money I would say that our fruit harvest means that we eat more fruit. There is no way we would buy the amount of soft fruit that we use by growing our own.

Our fruit growing isn't labour intensive, the busiest times being when pruning and in some cases tying in and when picking and preserving the harvests. The trees are given a winter wash to try and cut down on overwintering pests and lures are hung to control egg laying moths. We rarely water although at times we do treat the plants to a foliar feed.

At this time of year it is the pollinating insects that are working hard and to good effect.

So here's the picture on the plot fruit front at the moment - as usual some fruits are performing better than others.
Last year was a relatively poor year for greengages and plums. This year the greengages and at least one of the plum trees - Victoria - look to be showing promise of a reasonable crop.
The apples, pears and quince are also sporting lots of fruitlets but no doubt many will be discarded in the June drop. We inherited what we refer to as our apple hedge when we took on that area of the plot some twelve years ago. The trees were overgrown, ties had cut into the bark, the trunks were gnarled and damaged and advice would have maybe been to remove the trees altogether.
They are still producing a good harvest every year and whilst this is the case they will stay put.
The plot cherry has some fruit but each year the tree is devastated by wood pigeons. They shred the leaves which weakens the tree. Another cherry tree that grows on, what was until last year, an abandoned plot is left untouched. Maybe the leaves don't taste as good as those of our tree. Our tree is difficult to net effectively so we are thinking of reducing it to more of a bush shape.

We also inherited a tayberry (that may be a loganberry). It's a thug and usually we miss most of the fruit which is hiding in the middle of a thicket of viciously spiky canes. Last year I decided to go on the offensive and reduced the number of canes that I allowed to grow to an absolute minimum - two or three canes to each clump. At the moment it is sending up new canes for next year and I am only allowing those that I intend to keep for next year to develop. The rest are being cut out. The bees are busily pollinating the flowers which I hope will produce fruit that is more accessible.


The thornless blackberry is much friendlier and is covered in blossom. Each year it supports a bumper crop and it looks as if this year will be no exception.

More inherited fruit bushes were our redcurrants which also produce a good yearly crop. We took down the netting last year so we could tidy up the area. The blackbirds are hoping that we forget to renew the protection as they are looking forward to swooping in and stripping the plants at the first sign of redness.


Last year was quite a poor year for blackcurrants but this year look more promising. As for the whitecurrant, it rarely produces much fruit and those that it does manage to produce are very small. Maybe this will be the year that it shines.

We have four blueberry bushes which produces another fruit that the blackbird is partial to so will also need netting. At the moment the earliest variety is setting fruit and the latest is producing flowers.



Less tempting to the birds are our two cranberry plants. These grow in tubs outside of the greenhouse. They had become very messy and so this year were treated to haircut and fresh compost. They seem to be happier for it.

We have a grapevine growing alongside the shed. It produces grapes each year but they don't manage to reach maturity. Maybe if we have a good summer things will be different.



Another fruit that we haven't sampled yet is the honeyberry. We have four bushes which flower well but I think that we have a pollination issue. We bought four plants as at the time it was recommended that more than one plant was needed for pollination. There also was no mention of different varieties - our plants were sold as honeyberries. They were from a reputable source but honeyberries were relatively new. It now appears that a different variety is needed to cross pollinate but we don't know which variety ours are. Apparently a honeysuckle will help pollination so maybe an early flowering variety will fit the bill. 

The Japanese wineberry has no pollination problem and produced a good crop last year. It's early days yet to be able to tell whether this will be repeated.

Another pollination issue has been with us for several years. We have two kiwi vines - a male and a female. They were bought as a compatible pair but although the female produces flowers every year,  (this year it has excelled in this department), probably due to desperation and the male has never even tried to flower.


I've no idea how to encourage him as I have already tried everything that has been advised. We could buy another male but would it be a suitable pollinator and how long would it take to reach flowering stage?


The jostaberries and gooseberries have plenty of young fruits but will the wood pigeons leave the jostaberries for us. Usually they rampage amongst the branches many of which break under their weight.

The summer raspberries have plenty of bud. Tulameen is a traditional summer fruiting variety. It has lots of blossom and is attracting plenty of bees,


Glencoe - the purple raspberry is also loaded with flowers and bees. The plants in the newly renovated All Gold autumn fruiting raspberry bed are growing well. Joan J is another autumn fruiting variety. These plants were replanted last year and are sporting some out of season flower buds. I must have left some old canes when I cut them back. I'll leave them now. The newly planted black raspberry is looking a bit weedy so I hope that it is concentrating on building up strong roots.


Finally all the plants on our two strawberry beds have survived winter. As the varieties fruit at different times and so as expected some are full of flower and other are just in leaf. The alpine strawberries have lots of flowers too.


Surprisingly most of the flowers survived the frosts that affected our potatoes and are setting lots of fruit.

So far everything is looking promising - we just need the weather and pests to be kind to our plants.


20 comments:

  1. It's a great time when all our wishes are still up and running. Your range is astounding!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We are always on the look - out for new fruit to try, Mal. I had intendedadding a pink blueberry and a Chilean guava but when I looked to buy hey didn't have any in stock. We have some more fruit at home too but that is for another post.c

      Delete
  2. I planted fruit trees in my last garden for a similar reason, so it would encourage me to eat more fruit. However, I think you are the world champion in growing lots of fruit trees to encourage you to eat fruit! It looks like it's all starting out well, so fingers crossed the flowers turn into fruit to eat and you don't loose too much to June drop.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's always a tense time fruitwise, Julieanne. A case of not counting your apples until they are in the fruit bowl. Then not until they have been cut in half and have no squatters

      Delete
  3. You're right, fruit is the best thing to grow isn't it. Easy to grow, easy to harvest and not quite so many pests. And no fiddling around with trays of seeds etc. Down at the supermarket earlier I was marvelling at the carefree way someone threw a £3 punnet of raspberries into their trolley. Like you, there's no way we'd eat as much soft fruit as we do if I didn't grow it. I'm growing Malwina strawberries now as I remember they did well for you. Only their first year so I'm not expecting fruit, although there are one or two flowers. From memory I have 15 different types of fruit growing, which always amazes me. And it really doesn't need much fussing over. I love my tayberry, but you're right it is very spiny. I have it in the corner of a raised bed where I can get at it from all angles which helps. Even then I rarely emerge unscathed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm hoping for a painless tayberry harvest CJ. Buying a thornless blackberry was one of our best moves. I guess soft fruit is expensive as picking is very labour intensive but the supermarket punnets hardly provide a decent mouthful. I hope Malwina does well for you, it's a late fruitier. Ours have no signs of flowers yet but are good strong plants. I rooted some runners and used them to fill in for one variety - Vibrant - that died away.

      Delete
  4. I agree, soft fruit is the way to go. Locally, raspberries show up for between £2.50 and £3.50 a 100gr punnet and I can pick 15~20 punnets, or more, a week in July and August, with smaller picks in the months either side.
    I always smile, we both have Tayberries that may be Loganberries! How did this happen? Mine is not spiny, so may be the latter.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think both tayberries and loganberries can be more or less spiny , Deborah. If only I had asked the previous plot owner what he had planted, it wouldn't be such a mystery. I think to tell the difference we would need one of each berry to taste and observe.

      Delete
  5. You will be inundated with lovely fruits this year! When we purchased our honeyberries (here we call them haskaps) through a mail order house they were sold as a bundle of 3 different varieties - unfortunately one of them was very weak and died shortly after it arrived. I'm considering replacing the third variety as I have a feeling they were sold in threes to improve pollination.

    I completely agree on your comment about saving money. We definitely eat many more plums and cherries (when the trees produce, that is!) than we otherwise would. In fact, I don't think I've ever purchased cherries as they are incredibly expensive here and usually don't look the best. The only exception to this rule would likely be apples as we consume a ton of them. I can't wait until our trees start to bear - that will be cause for celebration.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was going to ask about haskaps when you mentioned them on your blog, Margaret. Cherries are expensive here too so when we do manage to pick some it is quite a treat. We have to top up on apples and pears too as well as buying the more exotic fruits.

      Delete
  6. Do the cranberries fruit well? Tempted to try. Tulameen raspberries did well for me at first but have succumbed to something or other.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The cranberry does bare fruit, Jessica but we haven't given it the very best treatment. Initially the plants were in the same bed as the blueberries but they just sprawled about so I decided to plant them in tubs and let them trail. Then I totally neglected them and not only did they become choked with weeds but I always forgot to water them. I'm now trying ti make amends as they have been tidied, trimmed and replanted in fresh ericacious compost and I have promised them regular water. They have pretty pink flowers. This post has photos of a plant in flower and with fruit

      Delete
  7. What a great collection of fruit and many of which would not be available to buy in the shops. Do you freeze it all and do you make jam?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Other than eating the fruit fresh we freeze it either just as it is or as a compote with as little sugar as possible, Margaret. We rarely eat jam.

      Delete
  8. That's a fantastic selection you've got there, Sue. Quick question: have you tried or had any luck with goji berries? I'm growing a few from seed this year, but I've heard mixed reports as to how well they set fruit and ripen in the UK climate.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We did try a while ago to grow Goji berries, Darren but it was from a plant given by a plot neighbour. At the time there was some sort of controversy about growing plants where provenance was unknown and also it was growing fairly straggly so we got rid of it. From what I read it seemed that the fruit didn't live up to all the hype so we didn't try again.

      Delete
  9. Reading about the honeyberry and kiwis was interesting, the trials and tribulations of gardening! I have three cranberry bushes, they look really healthy but have never flowered, I wonder why?xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe they thrive on a bit of neglect, Dina. Maybe mine will become lazy now that I have repotted them

      Delete
  10. Fruit is so expensive!! This year I've planted raspberry canes, strawberry plants and hoping to get an apple tree too.

    http://amandas-garden.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Amanda thanks for visiting and commenting, I spotted two almost ripe strawberries today - always a cause for celebration. I hope that your new fruit does well. If you are buying just one apple it will need to be a self fertile variety, most need another variety to pollinate them and not all varieties are compatible with one another. I'll pay a visit to your blog when I have a bit more time.

      Delete

Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment - it is great to hear from you and know that there are people out there actually reading what I write! Come back soon.
(By the way any comments just to promote a commercial site, or any comments not directly linked to the theme of my blog, will be deleted)
I am getting quite a lot of spam. It isnot published and is just deleted. I have stopped sifting through it and just delete any that ends up in my spam folder in one go so I am sorry if one of your messages is deleted accidentally.
Comments to posts over five days old are all moderated.