November is a time when the fruit garden is starting to slow down, but there are still things to be done to grow the best fruits for a fruitful harvest. Here are my top tips to grow your own fruit in November…
Continue picking, processing, and storing. It’s easy to tell if the apple is ripe and ready to pick. Cup the apple in one hand and gently twist the stem. When ripe, the apple will come away in your hand. Don’t force it if it doesn’t, as that means it’s not quite ready to harvest yet.
Apples bruise easily, so place them carefully into your harvesting basket or box as stored damaged apples will spread disease to healthy ones around them. Store in a well ventilated, cool but slightly moist dark place like a garage or garden shed.
Storing in plastic bags will help preserve the moisture in very dry places. Check apples regularly and remove any immediately that show signs of bruising or going brown.
There’s nothing quite like the taste of forced rhubarb early in the year when fresh fruit is scarce. It’s much sweeter and usually ready to eat about 5 weeks earlier than rhubarb that’s left to develop naturally.
Wait until the plant has been exposed to first winter frost, then water it well and cover with a light excluding object such as an old dustbin. You can use a bucket, but that will cramp the length of the rhubarb stems.
Plums, cherries, and other stone fruit
Do not be tempted to prune any stone fruit trees during the winter months as they are very susceptible to developing silver leaf.
This is a disease that kills entire branches, so it’s best to wait until summer.
Finish cutting out stems on your summer fruiting raspberries that fruited this summer (they’ll be starting to turn brown) and tie in the newly grown stems.
Leave autumn fruiting raspberry stems untouched until the early new year. They should also still be sporadically producing fruit.
Fruit cage netting
Now’s a good time to go round checking the netting on your fruit cage and, where needed, repairing.
Leave the door of the cage open over winter so that birds can fly in and out as they will be feeding off any overwintering grubs and aphids.
Though November may be quieter in the fruit garden, there are plenty of tasks to do and some fruit left to harvest. Checking structures are secured is a useful job to do at this time of the year too.
David Domoney is a Chartered Horticulturalist, Broadcaster, and Author. David has worked with a number of the UK’s leading garden retailers as a plant buyer and strategic consultant. With more than 30 years experience, in horticulture, David is as passionate about plants now as he was when he bought his first plant at a village fete.
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