CHERRY (sour or cooking type)

Type of tree: Bush or fan-trained. Pollination: Self-fertile.

Climate preferred: Temperate.

Soil: Any, provided that it is well-drained.

Yield: One tree is sufficient for most families.

Planting and cultivation

There are two kinds of cherry: sweet or dessert cherries, and cooking cherries. Unhappily, sweet cherries, even in fan-trained form, make very large trees which are unsuitable for the majority of gardens. Another snag is that sweet cherries need the pollen o{~ another cherry tree to produce a crop of fruit. If that were not problems enough, birds have a huge appetite for sweet cherries, and protecting the crop in the garden is difficult. So plant your chosen variety oi’ cooking cherry in well-prepared soil between late autumn and early spring and maintain a 1 m (3 ft) wide circle of soil around its trunk for several years. In early spring top dress the soil under the spread of the branches with general fertilizer at the rate of 135 gm per sq m (402 per sq yd). In mid-spring surround the tree with a thick moisture-retaining and weed-suppressing layer of compost.

Harvesting

The ripe fruit should be cut from the tree with secateurs or scissors to avoid damage to the shoots which can in turn lead to disease.

Pruning

Bush cherry trees should be pruned once they have started to fruit by thinning out some of the shoots in the centre to allow in light and air. Dead, crowded and crossing branches should be cut away in spring. However, with cherries the less pruning you do the better.

Pests and diseases

Aphids (cherry blacklly – spray with insecticide immediately after flowering).

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