Wednesday, 13 November 2013

GROWING CHERRIES IN A FRUIT CAGE

GROWING CHERRIES IN A FRUIT CAGE
If you’re lucky enough to have a fruit cage then probably the number one fruit to include in it would be a Cherry!
Our feathered friends, more than any other LOVE Cherries! And they tend to get their beak in long before the average gardener is up and around. That slowly ripening bounty of delicious fruits you long to pick could dissapear almost overnight! So it makes sense to offer the protection required so you can enjoy the just desserts of your efforts. Unfortunately Cherries have never been that easy to accommodate in the standard 6’ fruit cage as they usually grow too tall. Here are 3 practical options to allow you to incorporate Cherries into your fruit cage…..
FAN TRAINING
Keeps the tree to manageable proportions. You will need a support system as fan trees aren’t usually grown as free standing. Two 2x2 posts and 3 galvanized straining wires placed at 18” intervals will be required. It will take 3 seasons to train a good fan trained trees at which time cropping will usually begin in earnest.See my previous notes on fan training for further instructions.
FESTOONING
This old technique in training Cherries has become almost obsolete with the introduction of dwarfing rootstocks. But it deserves a renaissance for as well as restricting growth it creates a most attractively shaped ‘weeping’ tree.
The technique is quite simple. All that is required is some soft string.
What you are basically doing is tieing the leader and main branches down. This accomplishes two things; it keeps the tree compact but also actually encourages the production of fruit buds and early cropping.
The first summer tie the soft new leader down and attach it the lower portion of the main trunk with soft twine.
During the second summer all main branches, including those resulting from the tied leader, are also tied down in the same manner. This may seem a nerve racking task, but at the height of summer these growths are usually quite soft and surprisingly supple.
During the 3rd summer continue working with any prominent new growths, tieing them down, or removing them completely if the tree begins to look congested. At this point you should be able to remove the string from the leader which you tied down first, since it should naturally now stay in place. The year after that you can remove the string from the second summer’s training.
You should now have a naturally compact and rather petty little weeping tree.
This method also works very well with Plums, Gages and Damsons. It is ideally employed also with trees that need to be kept in a fruit cage.
For cherries growing in the open then it makes a conveniently shaped tree for netting against the birds.
PLANT A TREE ON DWARFING STOCK
Probably the easiest solution is to buy a tree on ‘Gisele 5’ stock. This is reliably dwarfing and should only attain 6’ in height with selective pruning, more than compact enough for incorporation into a fruit cage. This is a heavy cropping new stock that may also be grown in containers, or as a ‘columnar’ tree. As a bush space 6’ apart, as acolumn 2.5’ is plenty.

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