18th July 2014
Author: Andrew Lear
The Cairngorms 10th Anniversary Orchards were all planted earlier in the year and are really taking root in their communities. Andrew Lear – The Appletreeman – provided the trees for the orchards and assisted with the plantings, here he gives some seasonal tips on looking after fruit trees in the National Park.
A recent radio gardening programme suggested that growing fruit on higher ground is very difficult! Of course we know different! We had a great time back in the winter helping many groups to plant specially selected hardy fruit trees in the Cairngorms National Park. Most of the days were pleasant but I distinctly remember the one at Aviemore School which entailed dodging between heavy snow showers! The children however were undaunted!
But by now many of the young trees should be growing away. Hopefully the rabbit guards are still in place, and the mulch mats are still keeping the weed competition at bay. There may be some young fruits; these will probably fall off naturally in what’s called the ‘June Drop’, though this rarely happens so early in Scotland.
It was pretty windy here in Perthshire at the weekend, so can I remind people to check their trees: trees planted against walls are likely to need tying against the wires carefully, those in the open may need their ties checked for tightness against the stakes. The ones in the shelter of hedges or trees are less likely to be suffering any wind damage. The important thing is not to let the trees rub against the stake.
Scab is the biggest disease problem in the wetter areas of Scotland, and the weather over the last month has exacerbated the problem. Look out for some yellowish spots on the leaves; the fungus may eventually spread to the fruit leaving little brown marks. A light infection will only be superficial and the apples would still be edible. Last week turned dry which fortunately halted its spread around most trees.
It is important that the young trees get some formative pruning, or rather training. Try putting in clothes pegs between new shoots to widen the angle with the main trunk. By doing this you will form more horizontal branches, and thus better fruiting units.