Fruit Gardening Guide

All top fruit trees like apples, pears and plums are grafted on to special root stocks. When planting them it is essential to make sure this graft is well above soil level.

Apples and pears trained as cordons instead of bushes not only take up less space but give more fruit.

Both Cox’s and Bramleys apples need another variety of fruit tree nearby to pollinate the blossom. Charles Ross, a cooking-eating apple tree, will do for both.

Bramleys grow too big for the average garden unless you buy them grafted on to a dwarfing rootstock.

Cox apples must have a warm, sunny site and cannot be grown successfully in the cooler climates.

Conference pears are the only variety that you can grow without another pear tree nearby to pollinate them.

Victoria is a self-fertile plum. Other varieties, like apples and pears, need pollinators.

If space is limited, grow a ‘family tree’, three different varieties grafted on to one rootstock.

Blackcurrants will do well most everywhere but are ‘greedy feeders’ and must have a dressing of nitrogen-rich fertiliser every year.

Blackcurrants are produced mainly on new wood, so cut out the old canes when they have finished producing each year.

Red and white currants, on the other hand, fruit on old wood. To encourage this, shorten their side shoots every summer after fruiting.

Raspberries should be grown tied to wire supports, strained between 6ft (2m) high posts. They fruit on young wood. So every year the canes which have just fruited should be cut to the ground, and the new replacement canes needed for next years fruit should then be trained on the wires.

Strawberries are the easiest of fruit of all to grow, and can cope with some shade. Now you can grow a variety (sweetheart) from seed in the space of one year.

Strawberries like a humus-rich soil and must have a yearly dressing of fertiliser.

Black polythene sheeting laid between strawberry plants in May will help the soil warm up, suppress weeds and keep the fruit clean.

Save empty jam-jars and pop them over clusters of young strawberries. They will ripen faster and cannot be eaten by birds.

Take off strawberry runners as they appear unless you want replacement plants. Of so, pin them into the ground or a flower pot and large hair-pins. Once they have rooted they can be detached.

Sweet cherries are not suitable for growing in gardens unless you have a lot of room.

Morello cherries, however, do well if you fan-train them against a north wall.

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