Posts Tagged ‘growing fruit’

Fascinating Facts: Peaches

April 11th, 2019 | News | 0 Comments

Fascinating Facts: Peaches

Botanical name:  Prunus persica

Origins: Although its botanical name, which literally translates as ‘Persian plum’, suggests the peach originated from Persia (modern-day Iran), genetic research indicates that it actually comes from China.

First cultivated: Peaches have been cultivated in China since the Neolithic period.

Types: Peaches are classified as either clingstone or freestone, depending on whether the flesh adheres to the stone or not. There are early and late varieties, fruit with white, yellow or red flesh, and dwarf varieties which can be grown in containers. Nectarines are also part of the Prunus persica family.

Did you know?

Peaches have been cultivated in China for thousands of years, with evidence suggesting that domestication of the fruit occurred as early as 6000 BC in Zhejiang Province. From China, the fruit travelled west via the Silk Route to Persia where it was widely cultivated, earning it the botanical name Prunus persica. Alexander the Great is credited with introducing the fruit to Europe after he conquered Persia, although peaches weren’t widely known in England until the 17th century, and even then they were regarded as a rare treat.

Peaches have always had a special significance in their native China, where they are symbolic of unity and immortality. According to Chinese mythology, they confer longevity on all who eat them. Chinese brides traditionally carry peach blossoms in their bouquetsThe symbol of the peach frequently appears in Chinese legend, art and literature, and Chinese brides traditionally carry peach blossoms in their bouquets.

The Japanese associate peaches with purity and the banishment of evil, after their famous folktale Momotaro or ‘Peach Boy’. This ancient legend tells the tale of a boy who was born from a peach and grew up to be a brave hero who fought evil demons. He is one of the most well-known characters in Japan and is regarded as a role-model for children because of his kind-heartedness and bravery. A festival takes place in his honour on May 5th every year in the Japanese city of Inuyama.

Peach trees and fruit often appear in European art and literature. They have prominently featured in paintings by famous artists including Caravaggio, Renoir, Monet, Manet and Van Gough, variously symbolizing love, health, beauty, fertility, sensuality and the transience of life.

A member of the rose family, the peach is closely related to the almond, and is a sweet and fragrant stone fruit that can be used in a variety of culinary ways. Aside from the obvious jams, cakes, tarts, pies, cobblers and smoothies, peaches also lend themselves to savoury dishes such as salads, pizzas and soups, and they make an excellent accompaniment to meats.

Low in calories and high in fibre, peaches are a good source of vitamins A and C. Including the fruit in your diet can help maintain healthy bones and teeth, boost the immune system, and improve the skin. Peaches are rich in zinc which is thought to have anti-aging properties,Grow a Peach tree and be rewarded with sweet and juicy fruits in the summer and oils from the fruit are widely used in the cosmetics industry.

Despite their exotic origins, peaches have been successfully grown in the UK for hundreds of years, and they are a beautiful addition to any garden. They are one of the first fruit trees to flower, their delicate pink blossoms perfuming the early spring air, and in summer, you’ll be rewarded with an abundance of sweet and juicy fruit. The taste of a homegrown, sun-ripened peach is as good as it gets, and a world away from the peaches you buy from the supermarket.

To browse all our varieties of Peach trees, just follow this link to the Apricot & Peach tree section of our website.

Why Thinning Your Fruit Creates a Better Harvest

July 26th, 2018 | News | 0 Comments

It’s summer. Your fruit trees are already brimming with young fruits, ready to eventually give way to a delicious crop to enjoy at the end of the growing season. But if you want to get the most from your harvest, you will need to start removing some fruits. It may feel like you’re taking a step back, but it’s the way to go if you want your crop to reach its full potential.

Read on or watch the video to find out why thinning your fruits is best for your harvest not just this growing season, but for future seasons too.

Why Thin Fruits?

Selectively removing young fruits is called thinning. Some trees already do this naturally, like apples and pears, during what is known as the June-drop. But additional thinning can benefit your crop for a number of reasons:

  • It creates less chance of the tree fruits rubbing together, which can lead to diseases like rot.
  • It stops trees from biennial bearing – where the tree crops heavily one year, only to produce very few fruits the next.
  • It stops the branches straining and snapping under the weight of excessive or heavy fruits – particularly a problem with plums, which are notorious for over-producing.
  • It gives the remaining fruits the space they need to grow into bigger, healthier fruits. They will benefit from more airflow, sunlight and energy from the tree, meaning a more even ripening.

How to Thin an Apple Tree

You will need a sharp pair of pruners, however if the fruits are very close together you may find it easier using a pair of scissors so you can really get in between them.

Apples generally produce clusters of between two to six fruits, but the aim is to thin them down to just one or two fruits per cluster.

When you’re ready for cutting, start by targeting all the misshapen, damaged or scarred fruits. This usually includes the odd-shaped ‘king’ fruit, which lies at the centre of the cluster. After that, remove the smallest fruits and any that are awkwardly positioned and going to get in the way of your better fruits. Continue thinning until the fruits are evenly spaced, leaving only the biggest and healthiest.

Aim to leave about 4-6 inches (10-15cm) between individual apples of eating varieties. For larger cooking apples, aim to leave around 6-9 inches (15-23cm) between your fruits.

Pears need less thinning than apples, but will still benefit from it as well as give more consistent harvests.

Thinning Other Fruit Trees

Pears

Pears don’t need as much thinning as apples, but your crop will still benefit from having the young fruits thinned and in turn will give you consistent harvests. Aim to thin fruit cluster to two fruits, leaving around 4-6 inches (10-15cm) between fruits.

Plums

Thinning plums is important as they are notorious for over-producing. More often than not, you can thin the smaller fruits by using just your thumb and finger to detach them. Aim to leave one fruit every couple of inches (5-8cm), or one pair of plums every 6 inches (15cm).

Peaches

Thin your peaches in stage. Once they reach the size of  a hazelnut thin them down to one fruit every 4 inches (10cm). Thin again once they are the size of a golf ball to their final spacing of 8-10 inches (20-25cm).

Nectarines

You should thin your nectarines just the once to 6 inches (15cm) apart.

 

These are just some guidelines for thinning your fruits to help create a better harvest. If you would like to share any thinning tips or tricks with us, comment below or head over to our Facebook and Twitter page.

Growing Fruit and Vegetables In The Shade! [video]

April 10th, 2017 | The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

Growing Fruit and Vegetables

What can you grow in the shade? Surprisingly, quite a lot of things! This video will guide you through the fruit and vegetables you can grow in the shade.  If your plot is a bit gloomy, then embrace shade gardening!

Shady, and often shady and damp spots, offer a few challenges for the home gardener but it is possible to get growing if you choose the right plants that with thrive with lower levels of light and warmth.  In the video we have plenty of  tips on how to utilise the light that you do receive in your garden.

  • A first point to make on light is that it is often seedlings that require as much light as possible, in order to start their growth process strongly. Therefore it is important that you locate your seed beds in the sunniest part of the garden to give them the best possible start. You can plant seeds in pots or in a seed bed which can then be replanted once they have grown enough to cope with the darker areas of the garden.
  • You may be able to grow seeds indoors with full spectrum grow lights if you don’t have a sunny windowsill, especially if you are starting growing early.  This can offer seedlings a good start in life so they are well developed by the time you move them outside.
  • In shadier parts of the garden, paint walls white or use mirrors to reflect the light that is available.
  • You can also use covers for individual plants that may struggle to keep warm during spring in the shady cold pockets. Watch the video for more tips on this.
  • Slugs are likely to appear more in shaded areas, so be sure to set beer traps, lay out copper, coffee grounds, sharp stones and any other techniques you can think of to keep them at bay!

These are just a few tips on growing fruit and vegetables in the shade and how to make the most of the garden you have.  The video below talks more about what can be planted in the shade and further tips on growing in shady conditions.  Feel free to comment with your own tips in the comments below.

Strawberries: Choose and Grow the Best Tasting Strawberries

March 23rd, 2017 | The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

Strawberry Buddy - Growing Strawberries Homegrown strawberries are indulgent and delicious – they’re always nice and easy to grow! This post will look at the best types of strawberry to grow and the best way to grow them. 

  • If you choose a range of strawberry varieties and you could be picking fresh fruits from late spring – all the way to autumn. Start with early season varieties, followed by mid season and then finally late season strawberries. Alternatively, you can grow everbearing strawberries, these yield fruits in smaller quantities from early summer to autumn.
  • If you’re going to be making jam with your strawberries then it’s best to choose varieties that produce a lot of strawberries in one go.
  • Alpine strawberries are a lower maintenance alternative, they can be left to sprawl between ornamentals and will naturally self-seed. Their fruits are tiny – but offer an intense aromatic taste.
  • Strawberries love rich soil! Be sure to add plenty of organic matter to your compost before planting.
  • Strawberries can grow in impartial shade but will have lower yields. So, sunny positions are preferable.
  • Plant strawberries, so that the base of the crown is at soil level and space them around 18 – 24 inches apart. Allowing plenty of room for weeding, watering and picking.
  • Strawberries grow very well in containers filled with quality potting soil, they can be planted a little closer together but you’ll need to water your plants a little more frequently as they’ll dry out rapidly. Fruit is less likely to be damaged by slugs.
  • For an extra early variety, cover them with cloche or polyethene tunnel from the end of winter. Once the plants come into flower, remove the covers on warm days – this will allow insect pollinators access. This could offer you a crop up to three weeks earlier.
  • Keep plants well watered in dry weather, so that the fruits can swell to a good size. Plants undercover may need more water.
  • Stop mud from splashing onto developing fruits by laying down strawberry mats shortly after planting. Alternatively, use a mulch which will lock in moisture whilst keeping fruits clean. Straw is the traditional choice – hence the name strawberries!!

These are just a few top tips for picking strawberry varieties and growing them. If you’d like to find out more, the video below has more tips and advice. We’d love any ideas you have for growing strawberries – let us know in the comments or on our social media.

If you’d like to see our varieties of strawberries, you can find them here on the Mr Fothergill’s website.

Strawberries: Choose and Grow the Best Tasting Strawberries