Monday 25 June 2012

Apples and Pears - a progress report

Apologies for my low profile over the last few days, folks. Our internet connection has been down since Thursday. Who would believe that any ISP, let alone the allegedly "best in the UK" one, would leave a customer of a so-called 24 x 7 service without any connection for FIVE DAYS?? Hopefully by the time you read this, our connection will have been restored, but it's times like this that I'm really grateful for Blogger's ability to pre-schedule blogposts.


Well, first the easy bit: there will be no pears on my "Conference" tree this year. I can state that with certainty since the tree produced no flowers at all. I pruned the tree in February, at a time when it was still dormant, and I carefully left several of what I took to be fruiting spurs, like this:

Well, I was obviously wrong, because these spurs went on to produce plenty of leaves, but no flowers.

Remember this one Sue? This was the Ballerina / Policeman

Of course, it may be that the pruning had nothing to do with it. I have read that for various reasons (such as insufficient water) fruit trees can develop a biennial habit - in other words they fruit only in alternate years. This year they will certainly not be able to complain about lack of water unless the weather changes very dramatically!

Things are slightly better on the Apple front. Last year the tree ("Scrumptious") was looking pretty much past it and I very nearly dug it up. However I have gone to great lengths over the Winter and Spring to feed it (with Vitax Q4) and water it in the hope that it will respond by producing at least a few fruit. Just recently a lot of the immature fruitlets have dropped off, but I think this is the natural process called the June Drop, whereby a tree sheds any fruit that it feels unable to support.

I'm left with perhaps 20 or 25 fruit at this stage. They are mostly in pairs, like this:

But there are also a couple of little clusters like this.

In order to give the others the maximum chance of success, I intend to remove at least 2, possibly 3, of these fruitlets. The smallest one, and the scabby one at the bottom of the bunch.

I have done my best to keep the pests under control too, but this tree seems to be an aphid-magnet par excellence, and there are only so many times I can spray it if I don't want to poison myself with harmful chemicals.

Last year my Apple tree suffered badly from Bitter Pit, an ailment associated with an inability to absorb calcium from the soil due to excessive dryness, so again I will be trying hard to avoid it this time round, by extra-conscientious watering.

These two fruits don't look bad at present, so who knows, I might be eating home-grown apples again after all.

If I can get the Apple tree back into reasonable condition, I might be tempted to try an Apricot, but I'm seriously considering growing whatever I get in a big pot rather than in the soil, because I think I would be able to control its water consumption better that way.


  1. Looks good so far. I have tried to plant apple trees a couple times now but they have died. I really would love to have one so I am sure I will keep trying.

  2. Those apples are very impressive to me, I would eat them at that stage: love the tart taste of green unripened apples!

  3. Maybe next you will get a bumper pear crop? In my mind fruit is generally difficult to grow so I'm always impressed when others get a good crop. I've noticed apples developing on my container apple tree but I think the moths/caterpillars ruined quite a few.

  4. I've got a similar situation this year. Apple tree nil Apples. Pear tree 1 pear, Plum tree nil Plums. Cherry tree growing well but still to young to produce fruit.

  5. Fingers crossed for your apples Mark! I would love to have some fruit from the apple, plum and pear trees but the squirrels simply eat the day perhaps...

  6. Good luck there Mark. I have two immature apple trees but they are growing rather badly. I would love apples and pears.

  7. Good luck. I have a plum tree that is an aphid magnet too. At the beginning of the season I can just rub them off at the top, but eventually they get out of control.

  8. Hi Mark, wishing you success with apples this year! Another blogger I follow last year did a post about how she grows organic apples. She found a supplier of small, nylons (like women's stockings) and one is placed around ever small apple and then stretches with it during the growing season. She reports success despite it being a bit of a pain, but says she gets a crop with using pesticides. I hope my apple tree will get big enough to try it out some day. Cheers, Jenni

  9. Our pears had lots of frothy blossom, but the strong winds blew off all the forming fruit in the first couple of weeks, so there will be no pears for us this year either. We have a few apples coming though, like you, and strangely the peach tree, which is more exposed than anything else in the garden at a dozen feet high at least, still has lots of fruit fattening up despite wave after wave of storms this year.

  10. Yes I recognised my little friend even with long finger nails.

    Our pears usually fruit each year but all the fruitlets that had formed have disappeared but the apples have set fruit and it seems plenty have remined after the June drop. You are disciplined removing fruit Mark

    Pruning remians a mystery in spite of seeing it done lots of times on gardening programmes I just go by instinct.

  11. It looks like you'll have success with the apples. The tree which I bought earlier this year hasn't blossomed so no apples for me this year.

  12. Hope you get a crop! I had no idea apples were so labor intensive!

  13. I suspect the 'best in the UK' title will go elsewhere in future.

  14. I seem to have loads of apple on my tree, but only one fruit on the pear tree... I suspect the late frosts might have killed off most of the flowers.


Thank you for taking time to leave me a comment! Please note that Comment Moderation is enabled for older posts.