An almost frost-free spring has lead to promising fruit crops, so I have a few tips on getting the best out of them. I'm also recommending some deadheading, checking for root suckers and having a go at rooting softwood cuttings. There are lots to do in the garden at this time of the year!
Focus on fruit
If trained as fan or cordon shapes, you can pin new shoots back to encourage more branching. Tie and support new shoots to fill in gaps but avoid crowding. For conventional trees, it's best to use a saw to cut a few big branches out to let light and air into the centre.
Don’t be too eager to thin out apples
if crops look heavy. It's best to thin out after the natural thinning process (‘June Drop’) has finished. There's no point in removing fruits that are about to drop off anyway!
fruits as they develop. Straw is good if you can get it. Remove unwanted new runners or ‘lay’ some of them into the rows to root to form a continuous row. NB. It's best to buy new, disease-free runners every third year.
You can spray your apples with 'Sprayday' Greenfly Killer or similar to stop codling moth
grubs boring into your fruit. Pheromone traps, now widely available, give good non-pesticide control but need to be installed early.
Stop harvesting forced rhubarb
crowns and give them time to recover. The crowns which are unforced can still be harvested for a few weeks yet.
- Check blackcurrants for big bud mite damage (swollen buds). There is no control, and the mites may have infected your plants with the reversion virus, so destroy the plants and replant. Tip: infected plants will have no fruit on them.
- If pests appear, consider using natural predators before you automatically reach for the sprayer. They are especially effective if you introduce them early, and you can buy them online.
Ensure that you have a plan in place for watering if you are going away for a few days.
- Prune grapevines regularly. Cut shoots back to leave just two leaves beyond the flowers and immature grape cluster. Cut subsequent side-shoots back to just two leaves also.
- Cut flower stems off of Euphorbia as they become straw coloured. Take care when handling this plant because the sap can irritate the skin. Leave non-flowering shoots as they will bloom next year.
- Snap off dead flowers from rhododendrons and azaleas. This will tidy them up and improve their shape. Trim long Camellia shoots to encourage branching. All these must be watered and fed well now as next year’s buds are already forming!
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