Susie’s Gar­den

It’s har­vest time – and for many of us it’s been a bumper year! Susie has some ex­pert ad­vice on fruit trees and crops

My Weekly - - Contents -

Al­though we had such a late spring it did have a pos­i­tive side; the frost was over by the time trees fi­nally blos­somed.

The re­sult is a bo­nanza of fruit, both in the gar­den and in the hedgerows – a boun­ti­ful har­vest, not just for us but also for black­birds and thrushes. We had the best ever crop of straw­ber­ries in July, of blue­ber­ries in Au­gust and are now pick­ing de­li­cious ap­ples and pears.

Across the coun­try, peo­ple are plant­ing com­mu­nity or­chards. They are places to hold fam­ily events, to learn, cel­e­brate, have pic­nics and make fresh ap­ple juice. Look out for Ap­ple Days at Na­tional Trust prop­er­ties, Wildlife Trusts and other venues. Su­per­mar­kets of­ten sell a nar­row range of ap­ples so look out for in­de­pen­dent shops that cel­e­brate our her­itage va­ri­eties. I love the old names: ‘Blen­heim Or­ange’, ‘Rib­ston Pip­pin’, ‘Granny Smith’, ‘Cox’s Or­ange Pip­pin’ and ‘Beauty of Bath’ which is one of the ear­li­est to fruit. If you grow an old va­ri­ety, you are grow­ing a piece of his­tory. The orig­i­nal ‘Bram­ley’ ap­ple was grown from a pip by a child, Mary Ann Brails­ford, in 1809, in South­well, Not­ting­hamshire. A Bram­ley Fes­ti­val is held every year in South­well. This year it will be on Satur­day, Oc­to­ber 20 with a food and drink fes­ti­val, com­pe­ti­tions for ap­ple pie bak­ing, knit­ting, craft and pho­tog­ra­phy. It’s a cel­e­bra­tion of this world-fa­mous ap­ple, a favourite for cook­ing. You can grow fruit in a small gar­den with ap­ple or pear trees against a fence, or as “step-over” va­ri­eties along a path. Black­ber­ries, bay­ber­ries and

lo­gan­ber­ries can be trained against a wall, but you need a bit more space for rasp­ber­ries.

Straw­ber­ries need to be moved to keep them dis­ease­free so, af­ter three years, new plants should be made from their run­ners and set into fresh ground. Rasp­ber­ries can be bought as bare-rooted canes for plant­ing in win­ter. There’s noth­ing quite like the flavour of fruit that you can pick and eat straight away, grown with­out chem­i­cals and warmed by the sun.

Susie’s pear tree thrives against a shel­tered wall

Wait un­til fourber­ries are split­ting be­fore har­vest­ing

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