We are now beginning to reap the benefits from this warm summer, as the first strawberries ripened up at the end of May. My main crop Elsanta has come to the end of its useful life so will be replaced in the autumn. Colossus my new strawberry with huge fruit is living up to its name, but then the first berries from Symphony and Florence were also huge. Large fruit seems to be in fashion as my perpetual strawberry Albion which I rely on to fruit well into autumn also has massive berries. Just a pity they are so hard and lack sweetness. If they don’t improve they are destined for the compost heap to be replaced with some other autumn fruiting variety. Now that fruit picking has started it is a good time to review the crops and make notes for future action.
|Picking fresh rhubarb|
Raspberries are now starting to colour up so if you are troubled with the raspberry maggot now is the time for the first insecticide spray, then give another spray a week later. Both summer fruiting Glen Fyne and Glen Dee are heavy with berries ready to turn red. Looks like a good year for raspberries. Autumn fruiting Polka, Autumn Bliss as well as Autumn Treasure are all growing strongly so an autumn crop of berries looks assured.
Blackcurrant Ben Conan and Big Ben both have many branches weighed down with berries and should start to colour up soon. Most of the tops of vigorous branches were plagued by greenfly as growth has been soft with the warm wet weather, but rather than spray I just cut back the shoots to healthy leaves. This got rid of the pests and let more sunshine in to sweeten up the fruit.
Gooseberries also suffered a severe attack of sawfly maggots when I wasn’t looking, so they needed a spray which quickly wiped out the pests and allowed the bushes to grow fresh leaves. This is another crop that is just loaded with berries waiting to ripen up.
|Fig Brown Turkey|
Rhubarb may officially not be a fruit, but it is used as a dessert in stews, compote and is brilliant mixed with saskatoons for jam, as they add some acidity. The Saskatoon crop may be a bit lighter than last year as the winter was so mild that shoot ripening to initiate fruit buds was a bit lacking.
However I should get bigger berries and harvesting at the end of July is on target. It was interesting to see that the Saskatoon crop grown down south at Pershore Juneberries commenced in mid June. They needed a mechanical harvester to pick the berries.
Great to see success with the first commercial Saskatoon plantation in the UK.
Bramble Helen has finished flowering and now we just wait for this early variety to ripen up for picking in August. However the new bramble Reuben is flowering on the shoots grown last year. This primocane type flowers and fruits on canes grown in the same year, so last years canes should have been removed after fruiting, but with flowers appearing in November they had no chance. New shoots growing this year are three feet tall and looks like they will flower this month. Can’t wait to see if Reuben will fruit this year and live up to its terrific catalogue description.
Apples are ready for thinning but I will wait till after the June drop before the final thinning.
Cherries are turning colour but the tree needs netting otherwise the blackbird will take the lot.
My Peach Avalon Pride lost a third of its leaves to peach leaf curl, so the diseased foliage had to be removed. The tree was none too happy so it dropped my twelve potential peaches and has left me with just one. I give it one more year to acclimatise to Scotland or it gets the chop.
Grapes and figs are having a great year with much needed warmth and sunshine so good to see the fruit swelling up and we should soon get our first fig.
|Peas and beans|
Wee jobs to do this week
Peas can grow very fast in this warm damp summer climate so make sure they are all well supported. Even the dwarf varieties can grow two feet tall and are better for something to cling on to. I use both shrub prunings if tall enough and weldmesh wire held on posts driven into the ground.
Plastic pea and bean netting is quite cheap and very easy to use but make sure it is held up with a strong framework of posts and wires.