A Cherry on Top

July is traditionally the start of the cherry season so in this edition of Dig It, Peter Brown and Chris Day chat with Vikki Grainge from Horwood Cherries, to discover more about growing these delicious fruits famed for their wonderful flavour despite the short of season of cropping.

Plants mentioned: Flowering ornamental cherries including ‘Amanogawa’ and ‘Kanzan’, Prunus avium (wild cherry, bird cherry) and Prunus cerasifera (the myrobalan or cherry plum).

The cherry varieties ‘Morello’, ‘Stella’, ‘Summer Sun’ and ‘Sunburst’ are available as bare-root trees from November onwards from the Garden Centre or through Mail Order.

The cherries are grown on the trellis system using the Upright Fruiting Offshoots (or UFO) method of growing cherry training by Dr Greg Lang, a very intensive method which could be adapted by the home gardener. There are five cherry varieties grown at Horwood Cherries spanning the whole season providing around five weeks of cropping. The varieties are ‘Merchant’ (early), ‘Bellise’ ® (early), ‘Kordia’ (mid to late season, RHS AGM), ‘Regina’ (Late) and ‘Lapins’ (late and self-fertile).

Products mentioned: Clearweave Cherry Cover, Cherry colour chart , Dosatron, a liquid feeding system we use at the Garden Centre. Annual top dressing of potassium, phosphates and nitrogen are applied to help cherry growth.

Spotted wing drosophila (fruit flies). Yellow traps for monitoring all year round. Traps and lures are available from Agralan and some other suppliers or similar traps can be made at home. Consider insect proof mesh to keep the flies out.

Aphids can be troublesome; botrytis and mildew are avoided by good pruning to keep the trees open.

Never prune cherries when it is wet – it needs to be dry for at least three days and disinfect secateurs between trees. March-May is the best time to prune.

Useful links

Find out more about Horwood Cherries website

Cooking with cherries? Cherries in brandy, Cherry Crumble, Cherry Ice Cream and can be roasted with lamb. Some good cherry recipes here

Japan’s famous cherry parks

Vikki’s desert island plant is the sunflower, especially the variety 'Mongolian Giant'. Seeds available from Chiltern Seeds

Our thanks to Chiltern Music Therapy for supplying the music.

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