It’s all hands on deck in the backyard now with fruit ready to be harvested after ripening over the hot sunny days of summer. This is a great fun job for the kids to get involved with, they love climbing trees and are usually very happy to help.
Harvest - in the morning or evening when it is cooler, or on days when the temperatures are below 20 degrees.
Pick - pick fruit like plums, peaches, nectarines, apricots, pears and berries when the fruit is dry. If it is a little damp; allow the fruit to dry out fully before storing in the fridge or elsewhere. Moist fruit can cause mildew and rot to begin, hence it’s best to pick crops when they are dry.
To ripen fruit – pears, apples and quinces are best left to fully ripen on the trees, whereas stone fruit will continue to ripen if picked once the ripening process has begun on the tree. Once there is some ‘give’ in the fruit and it begins to soften it can be picked and laid flat in trays or boxes to ripen fully. To slow down the ripening process, store fruit in the fridge, but remember to bring it to room temperature before eating, it just tastes so much better.
Fruit for free – go foraging! Loads of apple, pear, plum and peach trees grow wild on the road sides and in open areas. Go and make the most of them, but only take what you can use or need. Leave some for the person who comes along next.
Tools - little snips like the Kent & Stowe Garden Snips are ideal for cutting fruit stems and stalks as well as light pruning. The bypass blade creates a clean cut to ensure minimum damage to the plant. Leave stalks on apples and pears, as this lengthens their shelf life.
- Prune peaches, plums and nectarines after fruiting has finished, this limits the spread of silver leaf, remove all pruning’s from underneath the trees.
- Once the soils cool down and the autumn rains have arrived it’s a brilliant time to plant all fruit trees, except citrus in cold areas. Prepare soil by digging over well, blending in sheep pellets and adding in SaturAid to help the soil hold onto more moisture.
- After harvest reward your fruit trees with an application of Tui NovaTec Premium fertiliser and a new layer of Tui Mulch & Feed or thick layer of Tui Super Sheep Pellets. This will promote new growth and stimulate flower buds for next season’s fruit.
- Garden centres have the widest selection of fruit trees and crops in stock in winter, if you are after a heirloom or rare variety order them early.
By Rachel Vogan