Monday, 6 August 2018

SUMMER FRUITS


SUMMER FRUITS

This year will go down as one of the hottest in memory, and it has been brilliant for most fruit crops. They got off to a poor start after a miserable winter with the “Beast from the East” and a non existent spring lacking sunshine, but fruit tree pollination was excellent on trees covered in masses of flowers. The potential was strong for a good fruit harvest, though it would be about three to four weeks late due to rotten climate at the beginning of the year.
Anna picks Big Ben blackcurrants
However, along came the heat wave lasting a couple of months and crops made up for lost time, though some ripened fast and cropped heavily, but over a shorter period. Although the long hot sunny days were a tonic it came with very dry weather so constant watering was necessary to keep plants alive.
Strawberries were first off the block. Fruits were large and sweet with early, midseason and autumn fruiting varieties all fruiting together. Unfortunately that this gave us a glut, then from mid July onwards there was none left. I hope my autumn perpetual variety Flamenco picks up again as we go through summer. At City Road Allotments everyone was getting great crops, so although I never
Saskatoons in fruit
netted all my strawberry rows, I only noticed two berries which the local blackbirds had eaten. They could have been spoiled for choice.
Blackcurrants got picked in early July with massive crops and huge berries. Big Ben was smaller than expected but very sweet, whereas Ben Conan was not so sweet but fruit size was huge. Crops gave us plenty to eat fresh, some for compote, some for jam, some in the freezer for future use and enough for my three demijohns of wine.
Redcurrants were very sweet but did not crop as heavily as last year, so no redcurrant wine brewing in 2018. They also suffered a bad attack of leaf blister aphids.
Gooseberries gave a massive crop which weighed many branches down to the ground and sawfly maggots swarmed out when I took my eye off the ball for a couple of days. I just managed to tackle them with a quick spray before they did too much damage. Huge crops will give plenty for the kitchen and I will get my three demijohns of vintage gooseberry wine. Some berries were lost due to hot sunshine blistering the fruit making it unusable.
Raspberry Glen Dee
Raspberries were doing just fine putting on a lot of growth in the sunny weather coupled with my constant watering, then along came the early summer gales and two rows got flattened. Strong tall cane growth with full foliage cover got hit so hard that the supporting posts broke off at ground level and flattened a couple of rows. Once the gale died down Glen Dee got its posts replaced, but a lot of canes of autumn fruiting Polka snapped off at ground level. Picking continues however on Glen Dee and Glen Fyne, and the remnants of Polka are also producing a crop of massive berries.
Apple The Oslin
Saskatoons are having a fantastic year with heavy crops of large sweet black fruiting bunches easy to pick. Nets were put in place in mid July, but this year there is no sign of our marauding blackbird. Plenty fruits to eat, freeze and brew, as this makes another fantastic wine after its three years maturing in demijohns.
Bramble Helen was always reliable to give the first fruits in August, but this year the first fruits were ready in mid July, and sweeter than ever.
Apple Oslin, the Arbroath Pippin is usually my first apple of the season. It is quite delicious, but can suffer a lot of brown rot in a bad year, but not this year without any rain. First fruits were picked at the end of July, with more to follow and Discovery ripening fast so not far behind.

Wee jobs to do this week

Pea crops in succession
Many crops such as salads, onions, turnips, beetroot, peas and early potatoes are ripening ahead of normal due to the hot summer and some three years old strawberry beds which have finished cropping are getting grubbed out. All of these areas can be used for another quick maturing crop of lettuce, spring onions, rocket, radish and early peas. Give them a light fork over, firm down, raking level and adding some fertiliser before sowing. Watering will be essential if the ground is dry.

END

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