Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Glorious cherries

The rain continues to pound my garden into submission and most things are growing at a somewhat jaunty angle. As soon as the sun comes out the flowers open, to be once more spoiled by the rain. But, despite the terrible weather there's been a beautiful crop of cherries. The rain has taken it's toll with splitting fruit, but you can eat split fruit as you're harvesting the other perfect, shiny, succulent, dark red cherries. Or if you feel generously inclined, leave any split fruit on the bird table. They won't last long.

Merton Glory juicy cherries ripening in West Yorkshire

I still find that people are surprised that cherries can be grown successfully in Yorkshire. I've had lovely cherry harvests for the last 3 years from Summer Sun, Merton Glory and Sunburst cherry trees. Stella has been a bit hit and miss for me.

It's too soon to say how Regina (which purports to be resistant to splitting) will do.

The blackbirds mocked my netting efforts on the free-standing Sunburst cherry, from which I picked precisely 2 cherries.  The rest were removed in the course of about a day. Presumably there were several blackbirds under the hedge, resting on their backs rubbing their bloated tummies, too full of cherries to be able to take flight for the rest of the week.

Take note: net your cherries carefully! The blackbirds never learn that they get trapped in netting. Never. They will find a way into your netting through the smallest gap. Infuriatingly, they will not manage to find their way back out of the gap that they came in through. Instead, they flap about inside stealing my cherries whilst waiting for me to rescue them. A blackbird got into the cherry fruit cage when I forgot to zip the door back up one evening. I found the pea-brained birdy flapping panic-stricken around the cage and had to chase it out of the door. Five minutes after walking away from the cage (after zipping it up this time) the blackbird was back trying to find a way back into the cage!

Summer Sun cherries ripening in early August
The new tarmac orchard cages have protected the cherries in pots and they've been dripping with cherries for the last 3 weeks, safe from the greedy blackbirds.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Pretty Ripening Plums

Ripening Plums of Lizzie
Asian plum Lizzie produces sweet very juicy plums about the size of a large hens egg. Like other plums the skin is tart and has an attractive bloom. They ripen to a lovely violet-tinged shade of red. The picture to the left was snapped the day before all of the remaining fruit mysteriously vanished from the tree :(

I think I may need to find space for these in the tarmac orchard cages. Most years the birds haven't bothered the plum trees. Maybe it's a revenge attack because the fruit cages have been so successful this year.

This plum is self-fertile, which is just as well as it flowers very early, sometimes in late February, sometimes in early March.

They've been largely trouble-free though they do show some shot-holes in the leaves and with the very damp late spring and summer the leaves are looking a bit ragged this year. They seem to be happy growing in airpots.  Take care to thin the fruit out though. The fruit are quite heavy and can drag a branch down with their weight, sometimes breaking the branch off.