What a waste!
Edible fruit growing in our gardens and trends of ignorance towards utilising this commodity
On my travels as a commercial horticulturalist, I visit many clients’ gardens; it is not uncommon to see fruit trees, such as Cherry’s, Pear and Apples that are sometimes neglected, but nearly always bearing fruit. I am often left thinking about how this fruit is mostly just left to fall, gathered up by gardeners and transferred to the green wheely bin or compost heap. Quite often our teams bring back fallen fruit from gardens or I will catch them munching on fruit whilst working. It’s easy to understand the reasons for this happening.
Often it is down to bad fruit tree management, pruning, pest and disease control. This leads into the fruit being too high to pick or when they do it is riddled with bugs or disease. It’s common for trees to be left unattended; these then just grow bigger and bigger. Ultimately, the weight of the fruit at the ends of the branches adds to the common inner wood rot causing failure and more damage. Fruit left on the ground attracts wasps compounding the owners’ views of the value of this in their gardens. Ultimately, sadly, unmaintained fruit trees can become dangerous and a liability, so often clients want rid of them. This means I have seen a trend towards fruit tree removal and rarely get asked to replant any new ones in projects.
The values of home-grown fruit
Obviously human consumption is a massive part in this, either in preserves, crumbles, or popular dressings for roast dinners. There is also the fact that pollinating insects, such as bees, rely on this pollen to make their winter food stores. So, with a holistic view in mind, these bees not only pollinate your fruit trees but also the flowers in your garden and ultimately the food on our plates.
So, what can we do about it?
Plant more fruit trees in our gardens. With proper planning to ensure you use smaller varieties that don’t get out of hand and planting varieties that also grow fruit you like!
Correct annual pruning. Removing the water-shoots, crossing wood and diseased timbers. This keeps the trees under control, ensures fruit is pickable and also limits long term damage.
Winter washing fruit trees to clean off eggs laid by insects that will damage the fruit.
Applying grease bands to stop insects from climbing trees to lay eggs in the winter that will damage fruit production in the long term.
Regular collection of fallen fruit and picking fruit as it ripens on the tree, or in some cases slightly earlier.
If you have a fruit tree, the benefits outweigh the downsides. Better fruit tree management is key to this.
Undoubtably, if you have a fruit tree then you will end up with more fruit than you can possibly utilise. So why not offer your friends, family, and work colleagues to share in your produce? Or maybe even stick a box outside your house with a ‘help yourself’ sign on?
There is an underlying good will feeling associated with giving especially something you have grown. Furthermore, I personally love eating produce that was grown and preserved in the summer, in the winter. Whilst I am tucking into a roast and eating apple sauce, I am reminded that warmer days will soon be back.