Gardening information, hints and tips on how to grow fruit trees, bushes and plants in your garden including pest control, pruning, maximising crop size and general care advice.

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Water your fruit well during dry spells and after the flowering stage, when the fruit is beginning to swell. When strawberries start to ripen, keep them watered. If trees such as apples and pears, are showing signs of good fruit set, give them a feed to encourage the fruit to swell and next year's fruit buds to form. Limit the crop on small trees by removing the small fruits or flower clusters. Spray to prevent scab and aphids. After the petals have fallen, spray to control sawfly, using a proprietary insecticide. Blackberries, loganberries and raspberries should have new canes growing. Start to train these away from the old canes and onto a support, pulling out unwanted shoots. Apply a mulch if fruit set is good. Gooseberries can be fed now but remember to spray for sawfly before the flowers open. Generally, if fruit set is good, feed your plants during May. Watch for aphids and remove by hand or if squeamish, apply a wash or insecticide.

Buy plants, bushes and trees from Thompson and Morgan.


If fruit is plentiful on apples, pears, etc, increase the eventual size of each fruit by removing some with your fingers. Some fruit trees will limit fruit naturally (called June fruit drop but often takes place in July), so any thinning you undertake should be done in small stages. Mulching your fruit after rain will help to conserve moisture. Check ties on trees and loosen if necessary. Aphids are now appearing everywhere! Pick these off if possible. Continue weeding, being careful not to disturb roots. Gooseberries should now be showing a good crop of fruit which can be thinned if necessary. Watch for gooseberry sawfly in the centre of the bushes and pick off and destroy. Erect some netting or bird scarers near your currant bushes. Strawberries will benefit from netting; pin down runners into 3in. pots until they root, at which point they can be removed and planted into new beds or pots. Outdoor vines should have unwanted buds removed. Cut shoots back to 24in. Replacement shoots should be left and you will begin training these horizontally later. Grapes will form at the spurs of the new growth.


A busy time for the gardener growing all fruits this month with lots of jobs needing to be done to maximise the crop but also the best time of year, particularly for the soft fruits as they are now starting to deliver their bounty.

Apple and Pear
Growth will now be starting to slow down and fruit swelling rapidly. If you are expecting a particularly large crop it may be necessary to support heavily laden branches as the weight of fruit may be too much for the thinner branches. Either erect a stout centre post and tie the branches to it or provide a stake for individual branches as required. Any damaged fruit should be removed and destroyed to stop whatever insect has been responsible from attacking other fruit. Make sure your glue bands are still in place to prevent caterpillars of various types from climbing up the trunk and helping themselves! Fruit will have thinned naturally during the June drop but you will need to thin further to achieve optimum results – one fruit per flower cluster and approx one fruit every 4 to 6 inches of stem will probably be OK. If you are growing cordon, espalier or dwarf trees they will need to be summer pruned to maintain your desired size and shape. Try to prune so that the tree is ‘opened up’ to allow sunlight and air to the centre of the tree and fruits.

Pick fruit as it matures or you will loose it. Next year’s crop will depend on the amount of new growth made this year – particularly growth coming from underground – you can prune out the old growth once it has fruited to encourage vigorous new growth for the next crop.

Standard cherries will need to be watched closely and unwanted growth buds rubbed out to maintain the shape.

Peach and Nectarine
Wall trained trees should have their new growth tied in. Formed fruit can be protected against birds and wasps by protecting them individually with muslin or paper bags as they develop.

Plum and Damson
Heavily laden branches may need some support to prevent them splitting or breaking. As soon as the fruit has been picked set about any necessary pruning to give the pruning wounds time to heal before the autumn weather kicks in. Remember to keep the centre of trees and bushes as open as possible – be ruthless – if a large branch needs to go then get rid for the good of the tree and definitely prune out any dead, diseased or crossing branches.

Similar to blackcurrent it is necessary to prune the old growth down to ground level once all the fruit has been picked so that the new growth which will give next year’s crop is encouraged to make vigorous growth for the rest of the season. Some control of over enthusiastic suckers may be necessary if they are running too far from where you want them to be – they will populate the entire garden given a chance!

The crop will be just about over now and you can set about tidying the strawberry beds or preparing for replanting if the plants have produced three crops – unless they look particularly healthy and vigorous in which case they can probably be retained. Tidy younger plants by removing old foliage and any old straw on the bed – new leaves will be produced within a couple of weeks ready for next year – runners can be removed unless required for new plant generation.


Early maturing varieties of Apple and Pear will start to become ripe this month and should be picked as soon as possible for the best flavour – test to see if the fruit is ripe by lifting gently and twisting the fruit – if it is ready it will part from the tree very easily. The present season’s shoots of Blackcurrant should be growing well now and should be fed regularly to give a good crop next year – fungal infection can be prevented by applying a copper fungicide. Cherry trees will benefit from a mid-month application of a copper fungicide to prevent fungal infection. Once the fruit of Peach and Nectarine has been picked from wall trained varieties the shoots which have borne fruit can be pruned and the shoots which have grown this season can be tied in to replace them – keeping in mind the final shape of the overall tree. Rooted runners of Strawberry plants should be planted now to give the best possible crop next year.

Buy plants, bushes and trees from Thompson and Morgan.


Leaf through your gardening catalogues and books and plan your fruit purchases for autumn planting. Select your planting site carefully as spring frosts can damage the blossom and reduce fruiting. Later flowering varieties will help to avoid this. If your trees are attacked by honey fungus, shown by mushroom growths at the base of the tree and wilting leaves, remove the tree and as much root as possible. The fungus spreads through the roots and can attack other plants. Apples and pears for storing should be picked early morning or evening when it is cool. Twist the fruit gently and pick leaving the stalk intact. Wrap fruit in paper, otherwise store the fruits so they do not touch each other. Blackberries, raspberries, peaches and nectarines will all be ready to pick. Blackberries, peaches and nectarines should be pruned once picking is complete. Autumn-fruiting strawberries will need to be protected in colder weather.


If you haven't done so already you should order your fruit trees and bushes for autumn delivery and get the site prepared by breaking up the sub soil and incorporating fertilizer and well rotted compost into the soil as you dig it over. Weed control around established trees should be done carefully to avoid damaging tree roots near the surface - mulching is an excellent option as it encourages root growth near the surface which is warm and nutrient rich while supressing weeds at the same time. It is now time to put grease bands around the trunks of apple and cherry trees to stop winter month infestation. Cherrys, peaches and nectarines should all be sprayed with a copper fungicide to prevent the many fungal infections which are prevalent at this time of year. Blackberry and other soft fruits should have their canes which have fruited cut out to allow room for the new shoots which will bear next year's fruit to develop.


Now is the best time to plant fruit. Even if it is frosty, as long as you can remove the top crust and plant into dry unfrozen soil, the trees and bushes should do well. If it is not possible to plant, lay them at an angle in a trench and firm well in until you are able to plant them out. When planting trees dig the holes when you are ready to complete planting so that the holes do not fill with water. Trim off any damaged roots and if the roots are dry, soak them for an hour or so before planting. Insert stakes before planting trees or bushes which avoids the roots being damaged. As you backfill the soil, keep firming it in to ensure the soil is in contact with the roots. Plant up to the soil level they were at in the nursery, with rootstocks well above the ground. Prune fruit trees after you have planted them: note that you only do this at this time of year, not when planting in Spring. Prune just above a bud that is pointing in the direction a shoot is required, to give the shape you are looking for.
Blackberry and loganberries should be pruned and new growth tied into the framework. Blackcurrant bushes not in their first year should be pruned by removing some old wood and leaving as much of the new growth as possible.
Peach, nectarine, cherry, plums and damson should not be pruned now unless necessary to remove damaged branches.
Gooseberry and red and white currants should have their leaders cut by half and laterals to 2 inches. On cordons reduce the leaders by one third. Older bushes be pruned harder. Weak growth should be removed.
Fruiting shoots of raspberries should be cut out and new canes tied in. Remove any weak or damaged canes.

Buy plants, bushes and trees from Thompson and Morgan.


Check any stored fruit and remove any showing signs of damage or rot. Pears will probably need to be placed in a warm room to ripen before eating. Spray fruit trees with a copper fungicide (you will repeat this in February) and apply grease bands to the trunks. Check that any stakes are still secure to avoid wind damage and check ties on espalier trees. Give trees grown in grass a nitrogen feed by mid January. If you have trees to fell do this during the winter months, cutting the trunk below soil level if possible. Newly planted blackberries can be pruned to 9 in., blackcurrants and raspberries should be pruned back hard to about 2 in. Try potting up the prunings, leaving a quarter of the length above the soil and keeping the cuttings 6 in. apart. Cuttings should easily root and fruit in their second season. Give peach and nectarine a dressing of manure.


Check your store of fruit and remove any that show signs of rotting. Planting of trees can continue if the weather is reasonably mild. Check ties and resecure if necessary. Prune and feed as for December.


You can continue to plant new fruit trees if the ground conditions permit but if the ground is too wet or frozen you can store the trees in a frost free shed until conditions improve. Peach and Nectarine trees should be sprayed liberally with a copper fungicide to combat peach leaf curl. Raspberry canes will need to be pruned close to the ground before the spring growth kicks in. Towards the middle of the month you can cover strawberry plants planted in late summer with cloches to encourage early fruiting but don't cover them too early as this will tend to promote leaf rather than fruit growth.

Buy plants, bushes and trees from Thompson and Morgan.


As soon as the weather allows, complete planting of fruit bushes and trees, especially any that you had to heel in while the weather was bad. Check round existing bushes and trees to see if the frost has loosened them; gently firm them back in. Prune trees and bushes and feed established plants. Spray peaches, nectarines, apples and pears with a copper fungicide and apply grease bands to the trunks. Train shoots of blackberries, raspberries and loganberries onto wires. Protect flowers with fleece and pollinate artificially if insects are few. Plant raspberries and strawberries.


Check how many fruit have set on apples, pears, plums etc. You may need to thin the fruit if too many have set. Protect flowers of all fruit trees from frost, covering with fleece if necessary. It is still possible to plant later-flowering strawberries. Mulch around trees and ensure that ties and stakes are adequate. Spraying fruit trees with a fine spray will help to open the flowers and help setting. If fruit is protected with cloches, periodically remove the ends to ensure insects can access the flowers to pollinate them.