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
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