Often excluded from works on fruit as they’re annual, soft and herbaceous not perennial and woody. And even though used most in savoury dishes they’re none the less fruits. Indeed they’re some of the most important fruit crops to the kitchen gardener.
In the fruit garden no work is so rewarding as summer pruning. A little effort spent on this task pays you back in so many ways and it is really rather essential for properly maintaining any trained forms of fruit. Summer pruning checks growth and done correctly leads to better quality fruit more reliably, and with less work and wasted plant material. Winter pruning is done while the plant is out of leaf and has different effects; promoting growth and is more useful when forming a tree or re-invigorating it than for the maintenance of good quality crops.
What connection could there possibly be between these two fruits- other than both suffering from an outrageous degree of bird damage. Well they are both easier grown in the drier parts of the UK but more importantly they both do very well grown in pots taken under cover to fruit.
The Prunus or Stone fruits, plums, cherries, peaches and apricots, are some of the most delectable of tree fruits. Not as commonly grown as they could be probably because most get much bigger than say apples and pears which benefit from more dwarfing rootstocks. The Stone fruits also flower very early making them very prone to frost damage so they’re easier in southern areas. And most limiting of all they need a long period of real winter cold in order to go properly dormant thus they’re much happier in the more eastern counties and relatively difficult in the milder western regions.
Probably one of the most difficult decisions to make with a garden is what to do about old fruit trees. They are going to remain large and dominate an area if left, yet are also a source of immediate production and a shame to remove. If they are in the way and have to go for good reasons then their crop can usually be replaced with another new tree planted elsewhere. But do not use the excuse that a tree is old and past renovating.
Fruits are good for us. They are the only food nature wants us to eat. Forget vegetarianism; lettuce, leeks and carrots no more want to be eaten than does a chicken. But fruits, well fruits are sweet sugary bribes to get us to spread the seeds. It is what plants want to do, it is their nature to fruit so they happily show improvement with a little selection. Our modern apples and pears are a long way from the wild crab. The strawberry of today did not exist at all but two centuries go. We only had small sorts such as the alpine and wild woodland ones.
The Pomeor apple related fruitsAlmost every garden of any size has an apple tree or two. These crop on year after year with barely anything ever done for them. We really do not appreciate how valuable such low maintenance and reliable fruits these and the other pomes, as this group are known, are. Closely related to apples with similar needs and few problems are the pears, less closely related but still similar are quinces, and the medlar.
Almost every fruit we grow needs pollinating and in many cases if we want the best crops we cannot rely on nature to do the job for us. Unfortunately vicissitudes of the weather makes outdoor pollination hit and miss some years and the recent scarcity of honey bees has made things worse. Under cover the conditions may be better but in there there are few natural pollinating agents and effectively no wind.
You have not fully lived till you have eaten a luscious perfectly ripened home grown peach still sun warm from the tree. Home grown a peach is so much better than the shop bought item which may look similar but can never be as perfumed or fully matured. Indeed if it were it would not survive the transport home as a ripe peach almost bursts in your hands like a balloon full of syrup. Although you may not realise it they are also rich in vitamins and so health giving as well as a pleasure to eat. And, if you choose the right way, they are easier to crop than you think.
There is no accounting for taste, we all may like completely different fruits, or not according to whim or habit. However most of us very rarely grow or enjoy anything other than the unremarkable; apples, pears, strawberries, raspberries, plums and so on. These are the main subjects for every fruit book. More comprehensive books venture further with medlars, mulberries, Boysenberries, blueberries maybe even Japonica quinces. Yet there are many more fruits with just as interesting flavours in our hedgerows and flower gardens going ungathered and effectively unseen.