For the week of 20th – 26th June.
When we have a fruit tree that is not producing fruit as it should, I always say we should look at the fruit tree as if it were a human being. It wants to have children, but it first would like to enjoy life, it will therefore first try to grow big, tall (and handsome) , and only after that will it concentrate on producing fruit. However, if it has been attacked it will feel threatened, and revert to produce fruit containing seeds of further trees – this is its way of fighting back, – by making as much fruit as possible so that in the event of it not being here much longer it will still have offspring to continue its legacy! With this philosophy we begin to understand why many people who are lax to prune their trees end up with a non fruiting tree. If the tree has not been pruned for many years it will produce as many leaves as it at can, it will grow taller and larger at the cost of your fruit.
The tree in the picture shows a plum tree that has not been pruned for years – tall branches with hardly any flowers, all the branches were lopped at the beginning of May to a convenient height and by now – just six weeks later, it has produced a more manageable tree, with branches that hopefully will bear fruit by next year or the year after, as seen in the second picture.
Points to remember:
Stone fruits should never be pruned in the winter only whilst they are actively growing, otherwise there is a risk of silver leaf disease. Unlike other trees that bear fruit on new and old wood, peach trees will only produce fruit on new growth.
The same logic will explain why we must constantly prune any fruit tree, not only when it has grown out of hand -, all new growth should be cut by half at this time of the year to encourage fruiting buds to form, and again lightly in winter if you have the time. This includes fruit bushes like currants and gooseberries.
One tree that will not crop at all unless pruned is the grape vine. At this time of the year cut back all growth to or three leaves beyond the fruit, and in winter cut back all branches, leaving only those that are as thick as your thumb.
If the tree has branches that are too thick for a lopper you might be better leaving these for a specialist tree surgeon as the tree could die from a major attack – however the specialist will make you sign a disclaimer that they are not liable if the tree will expire. (like a surgeon doing an operation!)
Many books have been written with complicating pruning techniques but keep in mind the overall philosophy explained above and your fruit tree will reward you, by fruiting with a vengeance!
Money saving tip:
If you ever wanted to lay a patch of grass but could not afford the cost of turf or have no time to seed the area, listen to this idea. After a rainy weekend, shops like B&Q have accumulated a large amount of turf but as nobody wants to lay turf on a wet weekend like the past one , their turf is still lying on the pallet- they have no way of watering turf to keep it fresh and they must therefore sell it off quick – at 20%of the original price. Take with a pair of gloves – don’t be ashamed to roll them out in store just to make sure that they are not mouldy ( a bit of dryness doesn’t matter as it will freshen up once laid ) – you won’t have a bowling green or Wimbledon but you will have a new lawn for next to nothing!
Enjoy your gardening week!
Next week : Sowing late seeds.