The Gardening Year for the Fruit Garden


Throughout spring, keep buds and flowers protected from frost by using garden fleece or netting. This will also offer protection against birds. Peaches, nectarines and strawberries grown under cover will need to be pollinated by hand; vines may also need some help.

New vine shoots should be pinched out and disbudded, as should fans of stone fruits that have been grown under cover. Prune back branch leaders on trained trees. Bark-ring any apple or pear trees that are over-vigorous. Check supports and ties, and adjust where necessary.

New fruit trees should be planted by early spring at the latest, unless they are container-grown. Early spring is also the time to think about grafting apples, cherries, pears or plums from scions taken in winter.

Alpine strawberry seeds may be sown indoors, ready for planting out in early summer.

By late spring, fruit plants will benefit from mulching and feeding. Wall-trained fruit often need additional watering at this time of year. Place straw or leylandii clippings between strawberry plants to keep soil from splashing onto the setting fruits. Peg down strawberry runners in prepared ground, ready for transplanting in late summer. Clear away unwanted raspberry suckers, leaving four to six to each stool.

Sawfly lay their eggs on gooseberry bushes at this time of the year, keep a close eye out for them or the hatched caterpillars, as they can defoliate a bush in a matter of days. Spray with derris or remove affected leaves.


Throughout the summer, use netting to protect cherry trees and fruiting bushes and canes from the birds. Add a layer of mulch around trees and bushes to conserve moisture; feed as necessary.

In early summer, thin the fruits of apricots and peaches, and remove unwanted or weak canes from raspberries. Plant out new alpine strawberry plants, and water established strawberries well, pegging out runners if this was not done in late spring. Blackberries and hybrid berries may be tip-layered, or leaf-bud cuttings may be taken.

By mid summer, ensure that all fruit trees grown against walls receive regular irrigation whilst their fruits are swelling. Unwanted shoots should be removed from apricots, cherries, figs and plums so that the tree does not become over laden. Start training espalier and dwarf trees.

Trained apples, pears and pyramid plums should be pruned in late summer, and their fruit thinned if they have a heavy crop. Rooted strawberry runners may be planted out at this point, into ground that has been suitably enriched with old compost or manure.


In early autumn, cut down the old canes of raspberries and blackberries as soon as the fruit has been picked to make room for the new growth. Tie in young canes.

Placing a cloche over established perpetual strawberries can keep them warm and fruiting for a little longer, although they must be watered regularly to ensure that they do not dry out. Cut back summer-fruiting strawberries after picking. Either remove unwanted runners to give space to the main plants, or peg them out for layering, ready for transplanting to the greenhouse. Strawberry plants should be replaced every two to three years; discard older plants, and if possible position new plants in fresh ground where strawberries have not been grown for at least three years.

Lightly prune fruit trees, cutting away cross-shoots to maintain an open structure. Prune fan-trained peaches and nectarines after fruiting, and shorten pinched shoots on plum, apricot and sweet cherry fans.

In mid autumn, carry out root pruning of any trees that have become too vigorous. Prune away the old wood from fig trees to make room for new growth. If planning on replacing any fruit trees, order the new stock, remove the old tree and prepare the ground for planting.

New fruit trees should be planted in late-autumn, as this will give the maximum amount of trainable growth the following year. Make sure that the ground is suitably prepared, with plenty of well-rotted manure or compost to improve the soil structure. Bushes and canes should also be planted at this time, along with hardwood cuttings of currants and gooseberries.

Apple, pears and bush fruits should start to receive their winter pruning in late-autumn.


Prevent weeds from appearing the following season by applying a residual weed killer to raspberries and strawberries in early winter, as soon as the plants are leafless. Alternatively, apply a heavy mulch. Finish pruning gooseberry and currant bushes and prune autumn-fruiting raspberries. Summer-fruiting raspberries, blackberries and hybrid berries should be tip pruned.

In mid-winter, start to prune hardier fruit trees, such as apples; leave damsons, pears and plums until late winter. Cut scions for grafting in either mid or late winter, and then heel them into the ground by a north wall, ready for grafting in early spring. Cut back stocks for grafting to form a head.