Exiles Forum

Lisburn, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland




Ripe, fruit

FRUIT can be seen ripening and filling out in abundance everywhere now. Apples are increasingly tempting, Cherries prove irresistible, and Pears should be near perfect.

Some people are put off planting Apple trees because of problems with pollination, and confusing tennis like M.26 rootstocks. Well, the only self fertile apple tree widely cultivated is 'Cox's Orange Pippin', but to be honest in Northern Ireland varieties requiring a pollination partner like 'Katy' and 'James Grieve' do best. These simply need another Apple tree that flowers at the same time. 'Jonagold' bears lots of fruit and is suitable for our climate but this one needs two separate varieties of Apple trees to pollinate it.

Apple trees used to be so tall , years ago that' ladders were essential to harvest the crop (unless you ate a bruised windfall before the worms got to it first). Now, less vigorous root systems are grafted (horticultural 'welding') on, and we can pick apples without too much back break. If you're not sure, look for a visible knobbly join near ground level between the straight rootstock and the main trunk. On the label you might see M.26, M.27, M.9. These are all small Apple trees. M.27 is up to 5ft tall, M.9 the next up at about 7 ft, and M.26 about 10 ft. The bigger garden trees are MM 106 (9ft) & MM 111 (12 ft tall).

Perfect Pears? Well, like Apples Pear trees have their own rootstock system. Put simply, the 'quince C' rootstock is the most dwarfing (10 ft. tall). The good news here is that Pears do well on wetter soils than apples, although do best in full sun like all fruit. A good choice is the variety 'Conference', (allegedly self fertile but in practice best with another type) and 'Williams Bon Chretien'. Pears like lots of organic nitrogen rich feed to keep them happy.

The Cherry 'Morello' is a reasonable size for the average garden and is self fertile, its fruit being used in jams. This looks good fan trained on a wall and unlike the popular 'Stella' variety, can take being planted on a North facing wall. The 'Stella' cherry is also self fertile and has a lovely sweet flavour, but choose one on 'Colt' or MM.F12/1 dwarfing rootstocks. Otherwise you'll have a very impressive 25 ft. tree.