blossom is visible everywhere you look. In the
garden and along the roadsides apple, cherry,
plum and pear are in full bloom. Peach and necterine
have finished flowering while the currants and
strawberries will be in flower shortly.
Plenty of blossom should result in a bumper
crop of fruit but there may be problems. One
of the biggest headaches for fruit growers is
pollination. If the fruit trees flower early
in the season, or if the weather is cold and
wet, there are fewer insects about to transfer
pollen from the male to the female part of the
flower. No pollination -no fruit.
Early flowering varieties of plum and cherry
are prone to frost damage which may wipe out
the whole crop in one night. Never plant fruit
trees in a hollow or low lying area. The cold
air settles in the lowest area but a hedge is
a sufficient barrier to prevent the flow moving
further down the hill.
The next crucial period is as the small fruit
are formed and start to swell. Dry ground conditions,
or any other check to growth, may make the tree
drop the tiny fruit.
is a problem referred to as 'June drop' although
it usually occurs before that time. If the tree
is under stress it will know it can’t
carry a lot of fruit and will arrange for some
of the young crop to abort and fall.
The young fruit is vulnerable to pests and diseases
at this time. With peaches and nectrines grown
outdoors it is necessary to grow them against
a sunny, warm, south facing wall. They flower
early and will need to be pollinated by hand.
Use a rabbit’s tail or a cotton wool ball.
Gently touch each open flower as this will move
the pollen from one bloom to another.
Once the fruit sets never allow your plants
to suffer from a lack of moisture. Water during
dry periods and apply a high potash-low nitrogen
liquid feed every 3-4 weeks.
A heavy crop of plums or damsons will cause
the brittle branches to break and prevention
is better than cure and a timely prop in the
form of a forked branch will support the laden
The botrytis which destroys strawberry fruit
forms behind the white petals during blossom
time. Make sure there is good air movement around
the flower trusses and raise them up on clean
straw. Bait the area where the strawberries
are growing to trap slugs and snails. A layer
of grit around the plants may discourage them.
check the gooseberry bushes for sawfly. The
caterpillars can defoliate a plant overnight
and this will effect fruit yield. American gooseberry
mildew disease marks the fruit. As gooseberry
fruit start to swell water the ground well as
this will help swell the fruit prior to harvest.