Page 28 - ALG Issue 2 20202
P. 28

   Cherries not only supply you with delicious fruit, they also put on a wonderful display of blossom in spring to cheer up your plot.
Most cherries are native to the Northern Hemisphere and, after a near collapse over the last 20 years, the commercial cherry industry in the UK is now thriving – using smaller trees in controlled environments. Cherries are vigorous trees and do not like being pruned,
so the only sensible choice for the allotment is the Gisela 5 rootstock, which must be grown in good weed- free fertile soil. Chemical weed control around young trees must be avoided because the rootstock is sensitive to Glyphosate and other similar systemic herbicides. Even so it can still produce a tree of 10ft/3m in a short space of time, so fan-training is a good idea. Training also makes it easier to throw
a net over to protect the tree from birds as the cherries start to ripen. If planted as a tree, it will need a permanent stake. Planting a self-fertile variety such as “Stella” or “Sunburst” will ensure pollination without having to plant a pollination partner. Cherries will grow better in central and southern England than in the north.
Containerised trees can be planted in all but the worst conditions; bare root trees
Cherries can be eaten fresh
or used in pies, puddings, liqueurs or preserves
are available between November and March and can be planted if the ground is not frozen or sodden soil and aspect. A free draining and reasonably fertile soil is best, and a south or west facing aspect is required for most dessert fruits. The planting site should be free from the competition of overhanging trees/buildings and there must be a free movement of air to prevent diseases such as canker from establishing itself. Avoid frost pockets and positions that are exposed to high winds. These will cause damage to developing fruits
and flowers at critical times in their development. Keep your cherry well- watered in drought conditions and feed with a well-balanced fertiliser in spring. Prune to keep a balance of older fruiting wood and newer branches.
There are a variety of pests and diseases such as aphids, winter moth and frost damage that can affect your cherry tree. You can limit their effects by practicing good hygiene – always removing fallen fruitlets or rotting
fruit as soon as possible, as these can harbour pests over winter. Use physical barriers such as fleece to protect the blossom from frost, and encouraging natural predators such as ladybirds and lacewings. Spotted wing drosophila, a small fruit fly, was first reported in the UK in 2012 and is likely to become an
increasing problem on fruit, especially cherries. Maggots infest the cherries and cause them to rot. Use traps and fine mesh to help protect developing fruit.
Cherries can be eaten fresh or used in pies, puddings, liqueurs or preserves; here is a recipe for preserving the fruit as a compote:
• 2 pounds (1kg) fresh cherries
• 1⁄4 cup (50g) sugar
• cup (40g) optional: 1/3 dried sour
• 2 teaspoons kirsch
• 1-2 drops pure almond extract
Stem and pit the cherries. Put them in a large, nonreactive pot or saucepan and stir in the sugar. Turn the heat
to medium, cover, and cook for 10 minutes, lifting the lid and stirring them frequently to encourage juicing. After 10 minutes of cooking, add the sour cherries, if using, and cook for 5 to 10 more minutes until the cherries are wilted and completely cooked through. Remove from heat and stir in the kirsch and almond extract. Let it cool before storing or serving. The juices will thicken as the compote sits. The cherry compote can be stored in the refrigerator for up to five days. It can be frozen for up to one year.
        28 Allotment and Leisure Gardener

   26   27   28   29   30