Spring blossom

Posted: Monday 29 April 2013
by Adam Pasco

At last, the warm weather has kick-started the season, and blossom is finally appearing.

Spring blossom

At last, the warm weather has kick-started the season, and blossom is finally appearing.

What a difference a year makes. Checking back at my diary, in 2012 the first 'Victoria' plum blossom opened on 28 March. One year on and the same plum tree only started blossoming last week, on 20 April – about three weeks later.

Of course, things will catch-up (they always do) and after a very disappointing year for fruit in 2012, I've high hopes that things will be better this year.

Why am I so optimistic? Well, with blossom opening so much later, hopefully there’s less risk of the cold weather returning and ruining the flowers, as fruit trees are most susceptible to damage at blossom time.

Days are longer and brighter, but there’s still a risk of frost. I keep a close eye on the weather forecast, and a few very large sheets of white fleece close at hand. When frost is forecast, I go out the evening before to cover all the flowers I can reach. I wrap the fleece around branches, drape it over fan-trained fruits and secure it in place with clothes pegs.

To ensure good fruit-set you need good pollination, and for this you need bees. Having spent many days outside enjoying this warm weather recently, I'm encouraged by just how many bees I've seen, including large bumblebees. With an ample supply of fruit blossom around, there is plenty of nectar and pollen for them to enjoy, and all are welcome.

One good thing about growing a single 'Victoria' plum tree is that it’s self-fertile. Unlike many varieties of fruit, like most apples for instance, it doesn’t need neighbouring plums for cross-pollination. Provided bees visit my single plum tree, I will hopefully get a good crop of fruit.

Last year, a couple of pears started to form on my small 'Concorde' tree, but nothing reached maturity (I didn't pick a single pear). At the moment I’m admiring it, every stem is completely clad is swelling flower buds. It's never carried so many flowers before, so perhaps it's making up for an ‘off’ year. I adore pears, so hope for an indulgent autumn, provided I can keep birds and wasps away.

Just one more job for the week ahead: sprinkle sulphate of potash fertiliser over the soil around my fruit trees and bushes. Potash is the nutrient plants need to encourage good flowering and fruiting, so I want to make sure they have plenty.

Enjoy the blossom while it lasts.

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galest 03/05/2013 at 19:27

I have a Victoria plum tree that has now set fruit but again the tiny fruit have a black spot at the end. Ive opened the fruit and some have a tiny maggot so any ideas which insect has caused this? I did spray with Winter Tarwash this year and it has worked as about 50% of the fruit are ok which is a big bonus as ive never had a single plum in the 5yrs ive had this tree for the reason stated a tiny magot.

Adam Pasco 03/05/2013 at 20:24

Hi Galest.

Wow your plums are early. Which part of teh country do you live?

This sounds like damage from Plum Moth. I'd recommend haning pheromone moth traps in your trees early next year to catch the male moths. It's too late now .... the damage is done.

fidgetbones 03/05/2013 at 21:05

I use plum moth traps as well. A few early plums are usually affected  with little pink wrigglers but I prefer to lose these than spray the whole tree.The later ones are usually all right. I cut them in half to check before eating. I couldn't spray the entire tree anyway because it's too big. My plum trees have only just started flowering (Nottingham)

pash 08/05/2013 at 03:57

Jak 10/05/2013 at 17:27

Have I got it wrong Adam or were you meant to be on a cruise on the Rhine from 28th April ?
We had to cancel at the last minute due to illness and were very disappointed.
If you did go were the tulips out? and would you recommend the cruise for another time.

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