It’s not been the best summer for fruit growth so far this year but good 
pruning and sulphate of potash could get your plants back on track

Summer pruning step-over apples.
Summer pruning step-over apples.

This summer’s wet weather has made many plants grow more than they normally would.

In fact, is estimated that trees and shrubs have produced around 25 per cent more growth as a result of the heavy rainfall.

In some situations this is good, especially where you have young trees that are establishing. On fruit trees where excessive growth is being made it can be to the detriment of the developing fruits as energy is pumped into growth rather than fruit.

A way to divert this growth is to summer prune and normally this is done in August when growth is starting to slow down, but this year I have decided to carry out my summer pruning now. You can do this on apples and pears where the trees are trained into shapes such as cordons, step-overs or espaliers.

Pruning is very simple and basically all you do is cut back all this year’s growth to a couple of buds from the old wood. As well as making the trained tree look very neat and tidy, all nutrients are diverted to the fruits which should be swelling now.

Where you are growing bush fruit trees you can also shorten long new growth to maintain the size and shape of the tree.

I tend to prune these long shoots back by around one third to a half, depending on the size of the tree. Feeding around the base of the tree now with sulphate of potash will also help the fruits grow and eventually ripen in what so far has not been the best of summers’ for growing fruit.

Readers’ Question

Carol Harrington from Birstwith has emailed me about the hemerocallis (day lilies) growing in her garden. This summer many of the buds are dropping and some are brown on the inside.

I think the main problem with your day lilies is caused by the poor weather conditions. To flower well they need plenty of sun, which unfortunately we haven’t had this year.

The plants in my garden are also full of buds, but not opening. However, hemerocallis can also be affected by a tiny mite that burrows into the developing buds which causes them to yellow and drop 

This tends to be more of a problem in warm, dry weather though.

Hopefully, as they weather improves you will get flowers that open, but it may be worth spranging the plants on a dry day with a systemic insecticide as a precaution.

Gardeners Diary

On Saturday, July 28, garden writer and presenter Sarah Raven will be giving a talk at the Wesley Chapel in Harrogate at 3.30pm. Tickets cost £8 and are available on 01423 502166.

Jobs for the Week

l Insect pests can often start to become a problem in the greenhouse at this time of the year. Fortunately, the damp cooler weather has kept many pests such as whitefly under control, but should it turn warm, they will quickly breed and spread onto tomatoes, cucumbers and other plants. A very simple but effective way of monitoring and controlling white fly is to hang yellow sticky traps between the plants.

l Deadhead roses on a regular basis, especially in damp weather to prevent the petals rotting. Either snap off the dead flower or prune the stem down to a growth bud.

l Garlic planted last autumn should be ready to harvest when the foliage has turned yellow and started to die down. After lifting the bulbs dry them off in a shed or under cover.

If you have a gardening question for Martin Fish, please email Or, write to Ackrill Media Group, 1 Cardale Park, Harrogate and we’ll pass on your question