July Fruit growing tips and advice

Later in the month summer pruning of restricted fruits (e.g. cordons, espaliers, fans) can begin. Cherries and plums can be summer pruned after cropping.

Thin apples after the June drop if still overcrowded. Remove blemished and 'king' (i.e. central) fruits from the clusters first. Branches still heavily laden after thinning can be supported with a V-shaped stake.

Cut back sideshoots on gooseberries to four or five leaves, or just beyond the fruit clusters. This will speed ripening (by increasing sun on the fruits), encourage fruit bud formation for next year, and control aphids on the new growth. Red and white currants may be pruned in the same way.

Sideshoots that form on pinched-out grape laterals can be stopped at one leaf. Leaves that are shading grape bunches can be removed, to speed ripening of the clusters. Harvest indoor grapes when the skin becomes translucent.

When summer-fruiting raspberries have finished cropping promptly cut out the old canes.

Fruit picking can begin in earnest, with strawberries, cherries, summer-fruiting raspberries, currants and the earliest of the plums. Remember to harvest red, and white, currants in bunches, still on the stalk - they will keep and taste better. Blackcurrants can be picked singly or in clusters, as preferred.

Continue to tie in and train new blackberry canes. Keep new canes separate from older, fruiting canes to ease later pruning.

Continue to peg down strawberry runners if new plants are needed. This will encourage the plantlets to root.
If possible, water tree, bush and cane fruit thoroughly once every seven to 10 days during dry spells. Mulching will help them retain water. Keep large-fruited apples, such as 'Bramley's Seedling' particularly well watered to help avoid problems with bitter pit.

Remember to water plants regularly, to ensure healthy development of fruits.

Protect ripening peach, nectarine, and apricot fruits from the birds; trained trees can be covered with nets fairly easily.

Propagate blackberries and other cane fruits with long, lax stems by tip layering.

Thinking of growing blueberries? If so, check your soil pH is sufficiently acidic - blueberries need a pH of 5.5-5 to prosper. Otherwise grow in containers of ericaceous compost. Protect them from birds.

Material courtesy of www.rhs.org.uk