May tips

Below is a checklist of jobs that need doing in the fruit garden in May.Be guided by the weather and soil conditions of your own plot. Gardens in cold, exposed regions may be a few weeks behind those in warmer, more protected regions and jobs may need to be delayed.

Each month has its own set of jobs to do to ensure a productive fruit garden. Pruning, feeding, watering, planting, training and harvesting are activities that can bring immense satisfaction as you watch your efforts pay off - and bear fruit! Unlike vegetable gardening where crops are cleared annually, the fruit garden matures over years, resulting in a continually productive plot.


General

    * Avoid using insecticides on crops when they are in flower.
    * Pull off suckers appearing around the base of fruit trees.
    * Make sure fruit isn’t drought stressed, especially those in containers, against a wall or newly planted.
    * Make sure bees can access caged and cloched fruit flowers to ensure pollination.
    * Keep a check on late frost forecasts and protect blossom as necessary.


Tree fruit

    * Liquid feed fruit trees growing in pots with a balanced feed.
    * Remove frost protection from fan-trained peaches, nectarines, apricots and almonds.
    * Control plum sawfly one week after petal-fall.
    * Be aware of cherry run-off (where some fruits turn yellow and fall off).
    * Remove wayward shoots on fan-trained trees and tie in better placed ones.
    * Deal with apple sawfly and capsid bug and prevent blossom wilt if it struck last year.
    * Deal with pear and cherry slugworm.
    * Put up codling moth traps in apple trees.
    * Get a fruit specialist to ring-bark overvigorous fruit trees.


Vine fruit

    * Take softwood cuttings of kiwifruit.
    * Tie in leading and sideshoots of kiwifruit.
    * Remove any winter protection from figs and carry out pruning.
    * Move growing-bags into the greenhouse to warm up two weeks before planting indoor melons, and water well two days before planting.
    * Plant indoor melons into growing-bags in a heated greenhouse.
    * Sow outdoor melons in a heated propagator.
    * Gently run your hand over indoor grape vine flowers to pollinate them.

Material courtesy of www.rhs.org.uk

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