Tag Archives: Figs

Garden Update – Fruit

Apples

We planted some new trees two years ago; James Grieve, Egremont Russett and another variety, the label of which has long blown away. We expected some fruit this year and while we do have some very tiny apples we are really disappointed in the size of the trees. One of them has tripled in size but the rest remain the same and the trunks still require some support.

Our two established apple trees (Bramley and Grenadier – both cooking apples) are rewarding us after the hard pruning they had last year.

Our Bramley apples

Our Bramley apples

At the end of last summer a good friend of ours, and fellow cider-maker, was evicted from his allotment. His crime? He dreamed of the old-fashioned allotment experience; the shed as his refuge from the world, sipping ice cold cider from a cool box while he tended his veg, sitting in the sun watching his tatties growing. The reality? Rules and regulations. He let some weeds grow and the committee decided he was undeserving of his sixty square metres and he was promptly evicted.

The irony is, he had just purchased two apple trees so he gave them to us. We plonked them in large pots until we could make space for them and this year they are producing more between them than the whole of last year’s harvest.

The evicted apple trees

The evicted apple trees

Pears

Again we planted two pear trees two years ago, both Conference variety. One suffered a very odd leaf condition each spring and this year, despite both having produced blossom, there is no fruit at all.

Plums

The Victoria Plum tree we planted in 2010 has come into its own this year. It is so laden with fruit that one branch has broken with the weight and Mr Mac has had to fashion a DIY support to stop another branch from snapping. The fruit is just starting to colour so not long now!

Mmmmmmm plum crumble

Mmmmmmm plum crumble

Mr Mac's DIY branch support fashioned from wood and carpet!

Mr Mac’s DIY branch support fashioned from wood and carpet!

Gage

The gage tree we planted beside the plum tree (variety Cambridge) produced four gages in its first year and since then nothing. We had high hopes this year when there was a tiny amount of blossom but there is no fruit at all.

Blueberries

This is my £1 bargain bucket Blueberry Elisabeth plant I rescued in 2011. I brought it home  and planted it in a pot with some ericatious compost and last year it recovered and produced a few blueberries…..not quite enough for a pot of jam though. Maybe if I had not nibbled on them every time I was in the greenhouse……..This year looks more promising.

I must not nibble the blueberries

I must not nibble the blueberries

Strawberries

We originally planted varieties Elsanta, Judibell and Cambridge Favourite but soon realised they were in the wettest part of the garden and strawberries don’t thrive in swamp-like conditions.

This year we bought new plants and put them in a raised bed. However, the badger ate them. We rescued some runners from our old plants and while we did harvest a small crop we only managed three small pots of strawberry jam.

The sum total of the strawberry harvest

The sum total of the strawberry harvest

Raspberries

The rasps have had a great year, even the ones in the swamp that we have not got round to relocating. The variety is Glen Clova and so far we have half a chest freezer full, all ready for the jam pot.

Blackcurrants

Like the rasps we harvested over 20lbs of blackcurrants and, even having given lots away, have produced 48 pots of jam. The variety is Ben Lomond.

There were so many blackcurrants the bush collapsed on to the path!

There were so many blackcurrants the bush collapsed on to the path with the weight!

Gooseberries

Every year, so far, the red and white gooseberry bushes have produced fruit then literally overnight all the foliage would disappear and the fruit would go mouldy. This year we have been pleasantly surprised that this did not happen and a small amount of fruit was harvested.

Needless to say the gooseberry bush growing out of the wall is laden with fruit. I think that bush would survive a nuclear holocaust!

This little bush growing from the wall usually produces about 8lbs of fruit!

This little bush growing from the wall usually produces about 8lbs of fruit!

Redcurrants

Beside the gooseberry bushes, the redcurrants usually suffered the same disappearing foliage fate. I am please to say this year I have picked my first redcurrants. However, I was positive I planted a red and a whitecurrant bush but the bush I though was a whitecurrant is actually a blackcurrant. Very odd.

The redcurrant and gooseberry harvest

The redcurrant and gooseberry harvest

Figs

So far we have two figs left on the tree. They seem quite happy but value for money they are currently the most expensive figs in the universe at £24 each!

The most expensive figs in the universe

The most expensive figs in the universe

Melons

I had two plants which were thriving in the greenhouse then they just went brown and keeled over. When I pulled them out the roots had virtually disappeared. They were in the sunniest part of the greenhouse and oddly enough I think it was too hot for them during the heatwave!

Cherries

We relocated one of the cherry trees to the back wall of the summerhouse which is north facing. All this has done is provide a haven for the birds to eat the cherries undisturbed! Last year we had 5 cherries, this year it looks as if we may be left with 7! Still no cherry pie or cherry jam boo hoo.

DSC06196

Ficus carica…..or figs to you and me!

When we built the conservatory greenhouse, Mr Mac wanted to plant some form of permanent fruit tree inside it that would be able to grow up the wall. He wanted something unusual that would not grow outside but would thrive in the Mediterranean type climate created inside. For a year now we have hummed and hawed about what would be best, the three main contenders being grapes, peaches and figs.

We ruled out peaches because our next door neighbour has a peach tree in his greenhouse and we can always snaffle some of his peaches when he is out playing golf or on a golfing holiday (John likes golf…..can you tell?). So it was down to grapes and figs and another winter of procrastination. Mr Mac and I are not quick at making decisions.

However, when we were on holiday in Italy last year we discovered just how fantastic fresh figs picked from a tree could be and so the decision was made….a fig tree would be purchased.

A few weeks ago I started to do some research. It appears that there are two types of fig which will do well in the UK climate. The one we decided to purchase was Brown Turkey, being heralded as the most reliable fig for the UK climate which produces a heavy crop of purple-brown fruits from late August to mid-September…perfect!

Thinking we would have to order it online can you imagine our delight when a chance remark at the garden centre led us to being shown two specimens of Brown Turkey and a deal was done. We chose the more established plant which was also fan trained, exactly what we needed for training it up the wall and it had two shrivelled up figs….proof that it had a track record of producing fruit.

Fig treet Fig tree

Planting it was easy, we just watered it well, dug a hole to accommodate it, added some compost and fertiliser and popped it in. So far so good.

Fig tree Fig tree Fig tree

Mr Mac has also done his sums and on the basis that Sainsbury’s sell figs at £1.99 for three, he has calculated that once we have had 60 figs from our tree it will have paid for itself!

Hopefully it should not require much maintenance, simply a spring feed, mulch and regular watering throughout the growing season. I read a lot about needing to restrict root growth to make sure it fruits well rather than growing large and leafy. It is recommended to plant it in a container or line the planting hole with bricks, rubble or concrete slabs. The alternative is to train it it on a wall and prune it to fit the required space….this is our plan so fingers crossed!

The helpful lady at the garden centre also suggested that in order to help the fruits ripen, put a heater in the greenhouse. Watch this space.