Archive for the tag 'Pears'

mtp

A Neat Little Box of Pears

One of our neighbours gave us this lovely box of Pears for a Christmas gift. Such a simple but beautiful thing, I was a little jealous I hadn’t thought of it first. The red blush on the fruit sets off the green packing nicely and gives it the perfect Christmassy feel.

Fruit is such a decadent thing that it’s the perfect Christmas present. When you think how long it takes to grow this many Pears (three years for a tree to come into fruition at least) and the care and attention that someone put in to produce such blemish-free fruit. They really are a treat and something to be celebrated, boxed up and given to friends and neighbours.

Once my fruit trees are producing enough I’m definitely doing this with my own fruit. I might even have a little photo on the lid that says ‘from the orchard of…’ Love it.

mtp

When is a Pear Ready to Pick?

My Pear’s are nearly ready to be picked. They should be ready in late August or early September and I know that I should really pick them when they are unripe and ripen them indoors for the best results. The trick is knowing when to harvest them, even though they are still unripe.

Here are a few tips that I’ve found useful:

  • If the Pear is difficult to pull of the tree, it isn’t ready.
  • Cup the Pear in your hand and give it a light squeeze, if the flesh is slightly springy then it’s ready. If it’s rock-hard then it’s not ready.
  • If you see other fruits dropping from the tree it’s likely that the fruits still on the tree are ready.
  • If your Pears have changed colour from green to lighter green or even yellow (depending on variety) this is another sign that they may be ready to pick.

Pick a Pear by grasping the fruit and twisting or rolling it to make the stem pull away from the branch. You want the stem still intact.

Happy harvesting!

mtp

Aha! So the Pears Did Pollinate

A few weeks ago I was on cloud nine because my other Pear tree flowered this year, which means I was in with a good chance of getting some pollinated flowers. And guess what? It worked. The flowers did pollinate and there are tiny Pears growing on the trees. Hooray!

I have Pears growing on both trees (Conference and Doyenne du Comice) and I counted a total of 18 Pears. Whoohoo!

I have never tasted a home-grown Pear but knowing how good Pears ‘can’ taste even from the supermarket my mouth is watering just thinking about it. I can’t wait. I’m hoping the taste will be worth the wait of almost three years!

mtp

How to Summer Prune an Espalier

Yesterday, I spent the whole day on an Espalier Pruning day at Painswick Rococo garden. It was great fun and I learned a ton about how Apples grow and how to maintain an espalier.

It was also a gorgeous setting in which to learn, with a central kitchen garden surrounded by hundreds of espalier Apples and Pear and a separate orchard including Medlers and Yellow Plums (which I had a sneaky taste of).

Thanks to Chris Hitchcock (the head gardener, on the right) and Bill Whitehead (an Apple and Pear expert, on the left) I now feel super confident about summer pruning my own espalier apple tree. Thanks also to Paul Hervey-Brookes for being the perfect host. Lastly, thanks to my wonderful under-gardener for buying the course for me and looking after Jackson for the whole day so that I could go!

So what did I learn?

Now is the time to start summer pruning Apple an Pear espaliers. Aim for the end of July to mid August. The reason you Summer prune is to restrict growth (after all an espalier is a restricted form) and to let in light to help the fruit ripen. The light also encourages buds for the following season, so everyone’s a winner!

Here are Four Steps to Summer Pruning Espaliers

1.Chop Down All Top Growth

Before you start pruning your espalier might look like this. Lots of long wippy shoots growing upwards. You should cut all the top growth down by about half so that you can see more clearly what you’re doing. Leave two long shoots unpruned, that are growing from the central stem. The reason you do this is to draw the sap upwards through the central part of the tree which reduces the amount of regrowth at the ends of the branches.

It should start to look a bit like this.

2. Prune Each Branch Three Leaves Up From the Basal Leaves

Inspect each of the branches that you’ve cut down by half. Find the basal leaf cluster (these are the clutch of leaves that are around the base of this year’s growth. In the photo below, the basal leaves are the three leaves coming from the base of the branch. Then the real leaves are the three after that (one is pointing backwards). You would make your cut above the third.

Angle your cut so that it slants away from the leaf – but ideally points away from the tree (so that the water runs away from the leaf and the tree). Don’t make your cut too angled and also not too close to the bottom of the leaf (as below).

Continue to work through the tree doing the same for each branch.

5. Dead, Diseased, Dying, Weak and Wayward

Next inspect the tree and take out all branches that fit the following description – DDDWW (Dead, Diseased, Dying, Weak and Wayward). Quite a few of the trees that I was pruning had Canker, which was rotting away various branches. I was told to just cut them off (since they don’t spray fungicide at Painswick).

4. The Finished Espalier

When you’re finished you should have a perfectly trimmed espalier, with lots of light getting in and with two wippy stems protruding from the top.

Sorry this ended up being so long but I needed to get all that I had learned down in one place. Hope it helps you out when you come to Summer prune your espalier Apples or Pears.