Tasty home-grown fruit
Delicious, juicy fruit is a highlight of the summer! Apart from being very good for you, it is also extremely refreshing during a warm month like August. Growing your own fruit trees is very rewarding: first of all you have the privilege of enjoying its beautiful blossoms, then later you get to eat its delicious fruit!
Early apples and pears
You can expect some fruit to fall from your apple and pear trees during the month of August. This is a good time to see which fruit is ripe for harvesting. You could also try to pick the fruit before it falls to the floor by performing this simple test: take the fruit in your hand and gently give it a quarter turn. If the stalk comes away easily from the tree, then you are holding a ripe piece of fruit! If not, leave it on the tree for a few more days before carrying out the test again.
Early apples and pears are best eaten straight away, as they are not suitable for storing.
With a bit of luck you should be able to carry on picking blackberries right through to September. Make sure that you don’t throw too many of the fruit into your bucket on top of each other, or you will end up with nothing but blackberry juice at the bottom of the bucket! You can eat them straight away but they do also freeze very well. Or have you thought about making a few jars of delicious blackberry jam or some blackberry juice?
It is time to pick your raspberries when they are a beautiful pink colour. When you pick them make sure you leave a short stalk on the fruit - this helps to prevent the juice seeping out of the fruit at the bottom of the basket under the pressure from those on top.
Did you know that the fruit bearing branches die off after harvesting? It is therefore advisable to remove these straight away.
Peaches and apricots
As soon as they feel slightly soft (don’t squeeze them too often!) you can pick them. If you do this early enough, you can prevent them from becoming over-ripe, falling to the ground and breaking. To allow the fruit to ripen, put them in a sunny spot.
NB: they can become over-ripe all of a sudden and will then start to go mouldy. Eating these gloriously juicy fruits at precisely the right moment is really something to savour!
In August you will probably find you have plenty of ripe fruit on your plum tree and this will generally carry on until the middle of September. Pick them (carefully) with the stalk on. Don’t pick any branches or leaves with them, as they will have next year’s flower buds on them. If the fruit is damaged it will become susceptible to mould, so take care that you don’t accidentally break the skin with your fingernails.
Leaving the fruit on the tree for longer can wear the tree out. Your plums may possibly be a little sweeter, but it would result in your tree having a very poor harvest the following year – that would be a real shame!*
Redcurrants, blackcurrants and blueberries
These should be harvested by cutting or pulling the long strings of fruit from the plant. Later on, indoors, you can remove the fruit from the stalks using a fork. In order to give the remaining fruit a better chance of ripening, the bush would benefit from a summer pruning after harvesting.
It goes without saying that fruit is healthy, but some fruits come with extra health-giving properties, called antioxidants. These are important substances that enable a healthy exchange of the body’s substances. Fruits that contain high levels of antioxidants include blueberries, strawberries, plums, oranges, red grapes and grapefruits.
Do you have space to grow your own fruit? Have a good look around your garden – there might just be room for a fruit tree or bush. Delicious, healthy and lovely to look at too!