Harvesting fruit

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.

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.

Once all the fruit has been picked, the leaves can be removed. Hedge clippers can be used for this. Clear up the leaves and throw them on the compost heap. Old leaves soon become diseased and this may harm the plants.
If you had scattered straw around the plants to prevent the fruit from rotting, this should now be removed. Weed and rake around the plants, and within a few weeks new leaves will develop.

Summer raspberries
Once you have picked all the tasty fruit from your summer raspberry, it should be pruned straight away in order to ensure a good recovery. The fruit-bearing branches can often be identified by the threads used to tie them down. These branches are also slightly browner in colour.

Currants and gooseberries
At the end of this month, redcurrant, white currant and gooseberry bushes all need summer pruning. All side branches that have developed during the past year should be cut back to about three to four buds from their base. Shoots that cross one another or that grow in the middle of the bush should also be removed. This is beneficial to air circulation and to bud formation for the following year. It also allows more light into the bush, encouraging the remaining fruit to ripen.

It is best to continue to tie down the new shoots that appear on blackberry bushes. There are various complicated rules for this, but the most simple method is to tie fruiting branches on one side and new shoots on the other side. This creates a fan shape.

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