Apple blossom, photo courtesy of Tambako The Jaguar/flickr.com
1) Check if the flowering fruit trees are well served by pollinators, which need to be in flower at the same time. If this is not the case, hang a water bottle in the flowering branches of the same species but of a different variety, to ensure cross fertilization and good fruit set.
2) Keep 1 square metre totally clear of all weeds and grass around the trunks of the trees.
3) On light sandy soils start watering the trees on a weekly basis.
4) Check that tree ties are not too tight.
5) Deal with fungal wood diseases such as canker, collar rot, bootlace fungus
6) Cut out dead branches and paint the wounds with a sealing compound
7) Mow the grass at a higher setting to start off with
8) Do not let damaging insects get out of control. Keep on the lookout for various types of aphids
9) Cover spring frost sensitive trees with garden fleece
10) Look at your trees at weekly intervals in order to detect possible damage by mice, muntjacks, deer, rabbit and hare.
At this time of the year, wasps and flies can be a great problem with plums and cherries and later on with apples and pears. These insects are particularly interested when fruits are becoming OVER-RIPE.
Therefore do not delay in picking the fruits when ripe. Secondly, make sure local wasps’ nests are dealt with. Wasp traps are only partially effective. Clearing the nests in the vicinity is the best solution.
It is a good idea to keep a fruit diary, in which you can record the cropping and flowering record of the different trees. If trees did not crop well, they were probably short of water, food or light. Otherwise, the problem may be connected to cross-fertilization or pollination. If you noticed some dead wood in your trees during the season, check now for canker, or for waterlogged soil. Canker has to be cut out: waterlogged soil has to be improved by means of effective drainage.
Now the leaves are beginning to drop, this is a good time to carry out a detailed inspection of each fruit tree. Over the next few days we will be providing a few tips on possible problems and how to deal with them.
Our first tip is about tree ties. Check that they are not too tight. Adjust or renew.
The next two weeks is a good time to put grease bands onto your fruit trees. They prevent caterpillars from climbing from the soil, up the trunk and stake, and into the tree. If they reach the tree, next spring they will start eating the foliage and fruitlets. Click here to read more about grease bands. And if you’re thinking about ordering some new trees for your garden, quality trees, and the necessary advice, are just a click away at realenglshfruit.co.uk
In this video, Dan and Henrietta Neuteboom describe the benefits of a wild flower meadow for fruit trees or an orchard. Wild flowers attract a large number of insects for many months of the year, above all bees, which ensure good pollination. And a wild flower meadow is very beautiful in itself. Click to watch.
Good pollination for many fruit crops is vital for regular cropping. The problem is that most fruit crops flower early in the growing season, when it still can be very cold and wet. These are not the climatic conditions favourable to many pollinating insects. For good cross pollination we therefore have to rely on insects such as the bumble bee, when the weather is too cold for the honey bee.
A bumble bee in a wild flower meadow
It is for this reason that creating areas of wild flowers is vital. Particular attention must be given to the choice of various flowering species. There has to be a regular food supply, in the form of flowering plants throughout the growing season. That means from March to some time in September. In our experience, a combination of annual single blooms and regularly flowering shrubs is the best way to provide adequate food for the pollinating insects. Another point is that it is better to have lots of flowers of a relatively small number species such as dog daisies, primroses, lavender and clover, rather than a more extensive range with just a few flowers on each shrub or annually flowering plants. However overall, the most important requirement is to provide enough flowers on plants and shrubs which are able to supply nectar and pollen during the full length of the growing season, so badly needed for the insects’ survival during the winter months.