There is nothing nicer than growing cherries in your garden. Because of birds, 20 years ago growing your own cherries was a dodgy proposition. Then several new dwarfing rootstocks and some new self-fertile varieties came along. It became easier to grow your own cherries, particularly if you have a wall or a fence along which you can train your cherry tree.
Nowadays it is really possible to grow your own cherries on relatively small trees, which makes good netting as easy as winks. Being able to cover your tree as protection against spring frosts as well as birds gives an extra guarantee to your crop of cherries. Growing cherries in the garden is now a practical proposition.
Which type of rootstock to use depends on your soil and the type of cherry you would like to grow, whether a sweet cherry or a sour cherry.
However, make sure that you cover up your cherry tree with a double layer of garden fleece, BEFORE THE FIRST BLOSSOM OPENS! This is essential to avoid early spring frosts making your blossom sterile and making your crop prospects a disappointment. Leave some small gaps on the side for the bees to move in and out, as many varieties do better when pollination is performed with the help of bumble bees.
Finally greenfly, also known as aphids, can do real damage right at the start of the season. Go to your garden centre and select an effective product, organic or otherwise, to stop greenfly ruining your crop prospects.
Morello cherry, photo courtesy of Rod Waddington/flickr.com
Here are our top ten tips on growing cherries in the garden and making sure that you, and not the birds, can enjoy them:
1) To make netting a success. it is far simpler to train your cherry tree along a wall or a fence, rather than a free-standing tree.
2) Cover your cherry tree with green shade netting from early April, before blossoming starts and leave it in position until you have picked your crop in June/July.
3) Don’t let aphids ruin your young shoots. Cut out any curled up shoots and put them in the non recycling bin. Encourage ladybirds, lacewings and earwigs, which are effective predators of the aphids. As a last resort, spray with an approved anti-aphids mixture, obtainable from your garden centre.
4) To stop the fruit from splitting, water the trees weekly with 5 to 10 litres of water each week from May until you have harvested your crop.
5) To avoid fungal diseases always prune your cherry trees as soon as you have picked your crop. Never prune during the winter months!
6) Depending on the rootstock used, give your trees sufficient space. Not too close.
7) Only plant self-fertile varieties. We will advise you. Place your order early.
8) Pick the crop when ready to eat. Cherries do not ripen off the trees.
9) Handle the fruit gently; pick the fruit with the stalk and the cherries will keep for 10 days in good condition at the bottom of the fridge, if you don’t want to eat them all in one go.
10) If you go on holiday ask your best friend to pick the cherries for you. Do not let them rot on the tree. Feed your tree with organic manure each year.
Read more about growing cherries here.