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Adam gets fruity...

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Adamn Greathead
Rank attained: Hazel Tree
Rank attained: Hazel Tree

Joined: 12 Sep 2006
Posts: 44
Location: West Midlands

PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2006 6:01 pm    Post subject: Adam gets fruity... Reply with quote

Adam gets fruity...

The growing of fruit has somewhat caught on in recent years despite the fact many uneducated ancestors relied on fruit to, quite literally, survive. Before hunting came about, foraging from nature became more than a hobby- it became a way of life. Yet all of this has only just hit home? Stop living off so-called supermarket fruit and get out there and grow your own. Fruit will adapt to any garden and there is always a fruiting plant that will survive in that dark, dank corner and one that will even thrive on that sun-kissed arid patio. And having a small garden does not mean your harvest has to be small too, with knowing what to look for it is rather easy to obtain a harvest as big, if not bigger, than that friend you know who, somehow, achieves record-breaking gluts of apples, plums and pears every year and never fails to make it known. If the thought of rearing a 20ft tree seems daunting then panic not-now available are cordons, espaliers, step overs, fans and bushes all of which permit the culture of fruit to any garden no matter what shape or size.
With this fruit alone pages and pages could be published and many people have done just this but I am just going to stick to the basics and mention a few notorious varieties. Most people will often associate apples with the commercially reared rows that will, until the end of time, flank roadsides which, when the autumn exposes their naked bodies, are discovered to be host to many a bunch of emerald parasitic mistletoe. As beautiful as this can be garden reared trees are best kept mistletoe-free unless you have an over-vigorous tree, then the mistletoe will help slow vegetative growth by sapping some of the trees zest for life. The amount of apples I grow in the vegetable garden are very limited to only a couple otherwise I would be the proud owner of too many apples with no where to go. Those which I do grow remain unknown to me as I inherited them however; I have been informed that the one that fruits first are 'Fortune' and the one which follows is 'Katie'- the tree which sits snug in the corner engulfed by Spirea douglasii has yet to fruit. I have plans to train several step over apples with which I can plant adjacent to the paths in the vegetable garden, providing a wealth of satin blossom when the garden needs it most-mid April.
Exquisiteness being my main concern, there are a few varieties which would prove to be the most respectable. 'Discovery' is the most obvious. Crispy and each bite triggers every sense into overtime and one of the many perks of this variety is that it is highly recommended for organic gardeners. Perfect. Seeing as I have a lack of cooking apples (none if I'm honest and I hold my head in shame) 'Bramley' would be a marvellous addition and, due to its compact habit, would be easier to train into a step over. Both these varieties, if purchased and a few years were allowed for training, will provide me with apples from August through to October. To extend the season even further I would attempt 'Cox self-fertile'. When their fruits are properly stored they will last until January the following year, supplying the household with apples across the Christmas period when family and friends demonically raid the turkey and trimmings. If step overs are not your style then many more apples can be trained into cordons and, for the adventurous of you out there, espaliers and bushes. Simply ask your local growers: they have a wealth of local knowledge which is never broken into enough. With widespread apple days occurring every autumn there is no excuse for you not to be available to find a particular variety which is suited to you.

When the pear (Pyrus communis) is in season all other fruit could cease to exist for me. What luxury a pear can give and a luxury that should come from the home and not a supermarket not even a farmers market if you can help it- they probably won't be organic and if they are you'll be ripped off by them. Pears are personal to me and are a predominant feature in the vegetable garden in April; their confetti-like blossom rest on bare sticks promising a decent crop. Anything about a self-fertile pear has failure written all over it-no pear is fully compatible with itself- therefore I grow one 'Conference' pear with a nearby identical pollinating partner. It works. 'Conference' has the reputation of being rock hard and it has the chain of supermarkets to thank whereas; if you grew your own 'Conference' you find that once they ripen they are anything but solid. They are a soft and plush fruit with a rich aroma. This ripening process happens at home purely because the fruit has not been treated with 11 different chemicals such as Chlormequat which stops the pears from ripening spontaneously. A worthy variety which gets my vote every time is 'Comice'. They are the juiciest and sweetest pears around and with their creamy flesh, which is abundant with scent, they deserve to be treated with the utmost respect. Having said this, I have not yet succeeded in planting a 'Comice' as yet but this year all that comes to an end. Come April I'll have a 'Comice', standing in full sun, crammed with blossom. If this isn't enough, pears are high in pectin-a chemical proven to assist the prevention of colon cancer- and high in boron-a chemical which improves electrical activity in the brain and helps the body to use calcium to the best of its ability. Pears can be trained as step overs, cordons and, most famously, as espaliers (Clovelly gardens, in N. Devon, have a wonderful specimen trained next to their restored glasshouses where its robust branches grip to the rustic and decrepit walls that enclose the kitchen garden.)
An excellent fruit that can be used for almost anything. Their storage ability is far superior to most other fruits and is greatly echoed by the fact they can be bottled, frozen, stewed, canned, made into jelly and jam. Plums (Prunus domestica) have a plethora of shapes they can adhere to from the likes of a fan to pyramid through to half standard. Whichever frame you go with make sure you choose the right variety. Here I grow 'Victoria' a good old faithful, almost indigenous, cultivar able to yield up to 15lb in its third year and probably double that given time. There is even a range of dwarf plum trees perfectly happy growing in container, and what's more, they will produce just as much fruit. You can only get a dwarf plum tree from a handful of growers for around about £15. I know Ken Muir stocks wonderful cordon plums which he calls minarettes. There are roughly six or seven different varieties available 'Victoria' being one of them and all of them reach an ultimate height of 8ft.
If I were to grow another variety of plum it would probably be 'Majorie's seedling' a variety created purely by chance which soon took hold and growers paid for the privilege to propagate and sell it. It can be used as a dessert plum or just as a snack plum. It is juicy all the way through and has plush purple flesh. I suppose what makes it so handy is the fact that it is tolerant of cold weather, it is self-fertile and crops heavily. 'Czar' is also a good one to go for. She has the most haunting dusky fruits of considerable size and is also self-fertile and with it being resistant to frosts the blossom is unaffected by what early spring throws at it.
Cherries (Prunus avium)
'Stella' has gorgeous dark fruits making harvest time a pleasurable job in late July. This variety, which I grow myself, is a universal pollinator meaning it will pollinate any other cherry tree you happen to grow also, it is a cherry which boasts decent defence against bacterial canker which cherries have a tendency to develop. I could not fault my tree nor could I grow another variety, it would be treason. On the other hand, you may be inclined to grow 'Morello' except do not fall into the trap of purchasing it because it is the only cherry you have heard of or seen in the shops. I say this because I have known people who have bought a 'Morello' cherry and been extremely chuffed that they've finally achieved their new year's resolution of planting more fruit and planted a cherry tree until they get to harvest time and they taste their first organic cherry. Out it comes, spat all over the floor and they're left with a basket full of sharp cherries they themselves cannot give away. 'Morello' is an acid cherry therefore cooking it is the sole use that it can be put to, it is never sweet enough to eat straight from the tree. So Beware.
Again, cherries are one of those fruits which tolerate being trained and many have been trained as cordons, bushes and espaliers but whatever the shape protect them from birds- they love them more than you will. When July comes I keep a watchful eye and it is an endurance test as to who gets the cherries first. We always draw, both me and the birds ending up with roughly half the crop each.
I could quite happily continue with my fruity facts but I fear I would never stop and I feel I have done many fruits injustice such as the figs how have received no mention until now and the heath fruits like blueberries (Vaccinium Cyanococcus) and cranberries (Vaccinium macrocarpon). Kiwi fruits (Actinidia deliciosa), raspberries (Rubus idaeus) and gooseberries (Ribes uva-crispa) have even missed out but they'll follow in future articles; I'm sure. Even if I've persuaded just one of you to grow more fruit then I have succeeded in what I set out to do. Fruiting species have so much to give whether it be the obvious pleasures of ripe pears and juicy apples or the concealed pleasures like elegant blossom in spring or the heart-felt excitement, when your inner child is released, to pluck and handle the end product with its ability to create a new life enveloped within its firm and textured flesh.
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James Kilkelly
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Joined: 30 May 2006
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Location: West of Ireland

PostPosted: Fri Dec 29, 2006 11:07 pm    Post subject: Self Fertile Pear Reply with quote

Thats a good point on the self fertile pear, Adam.
I have found Its always best to grow two for pollination as well.

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