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.