Harvesting and Pruning Fruit in September
Some fruit trees and bushes provide you with delicious juicy fruit in late summer. September is a good month to devote extra care and attention to these plants to ensure lovely home-grown fruit next season too.
Apples and pears
Apples and pears can be harvested from late September into October.
If the stem detaches easily from the tree the fruit is ripe. If you have to pull too hard the fruit is not yet fully ripe and should be left for a few days before trying again.
Tip: Do not leave fallen fruit to rot on the ground. It should be cleared up straight away to prevent fungal diseases.
Blackberries can be picked from mid-September onwards. Do not fill your bucket with too many berries, as the berries at the bottom will get crushed and you will have instant blackberry juice! Blackberries can be eaten straight away, but they can also be frozen, and they are excellent for making jam and juice.
The fruits never ripen all at the same time. If you only have a few plants you will hardly ever have enough for a large family. Freezing is the answer. Once you have harvested enough you can defrost the fruits and treat the whole family.
Raspberries can be picked as soon as they turn a nice pink colour. If you leave a short length of stem on the fruits when you pick them, this will prevent the juice from being pressed out of the fruits at the bottom of the basket.
The fruit-bearing branches die off after the harvest. These should preferably be removed immediately after the fruits have been picked, as this encourages the development of new runners.
Make sure your grapes get as much sun as possible. You can do this by removing as many leaves as possible close to the bunches. Plenty of sun improves the size and flavour of the grapes.
Grapes for direct consumption can be thinned out from September onwards. Do not wait too long before doing this. If the grapes are packed closely together they are more susceptible to rotting. Cut away surplus and diseased grapes using pointed scissors.
You will probably find ripe plums in your plum tree until mid-September. Pick them carefully, leaving the stems on. Make sure you do not remove any twigs or leaves, as this will also remove the next season’s buds.
Take care not to damage the plums with your nails. This makes the fruit more susceptible to mould.
After the plums have been picked, the tree can be pruned. Only prune where this is strictly necessary. A poorly fruiting plum tree will not produce more fruit if it is pruned. On the contrary, pruning encourages vegetative growth and this may cause the tree to produce less fruit.
What to remove
- Suckers (branches that develop under the graft union)
- Dead, diseased and broken branches, and branches that cross one another
- Vertically growing branches close to the trunk, and low-hanging branches
- Vertical leaders that obstruct sunlight
If you intend to prune a plum tree, make sure the weather is suitable. Pruning wounds heal quicker on a hot, dry day.
If you fancy your own supplies of freshly picked fruit, take a look around your garden and consider where you could plant a fruit tree or fruit bush. Fresh fruit is delicious, nutritious and very decorative!