Fruit gardening calendar

Information sheet

Follow this fruit growing calendar to maintain your school fruit garden and produce great crops.

  • School term: All year round
  • Level of experience: No experience needed
  • Subject(s):

January

  • Buy and pot up bare-rooted strawberries.
  • Continue to plant fruit trees and bushes up to February.
  • Begin forcing established rhubarb plants by upending a dustbin over the mulched crown to encourage fresh pink shoots to grow. Don’t force the same plants next year.
  • Continue to prune apples, currants, gooseberries, grapes and pears.
 

February 

  • Continue to buy and pot up bare-rooted strawberries.
  • Continue to plant fruit trees and bushes.
  • Prune autumn raspberries.
  • Continue to prune apples, currants, gooseberries, and pears.
  • Mulch around fruit trees and bushes with bulky organic material to retain moisture, suppress weeds and improve soil structure. Mulch any unused beds too.
 

March

  • Plant cane fruit: blackberries, hybrid berries, raspberries and strawberries.
  • Protect pear and plum blossom from frost.
  • Prune young plum trees and blueberries once they are four years old.
  • Continue to prune autumn raspberries.
  • Harvest forced rhubarb and leave crowns uncovered.
  • Continue to mulch around fruit trees and bushes with bulky organic material to retain moisture, suppress weeds and improve soil structure. Mulch any unused beds too.
 

April

  • Continue to plant raspberries and strawberries.
  • Protect early strawberries from frost.
  • Protect blossom from frost on apples, blackcurrants, pears and plums.
  • Watch out for signs of pests and diseases attacking your fruit and take action quickly. Visit www.rhs.org.uk for advice.
  • Encourage beneficial predatory insects. For example hoverfly larvae eat greenfly, and you can attract the adults with nectar-rich flowers.
  • Weed strawberry beds and around fruit trees and bushes.
  • Continue to prune young plum trees.
 

May

  • Protect strawberries from soil splashes and rots with straw or strawberry mats.
  • Net soft fruit against birds. Remove in late summer once fruiting has finished.
  • Weed strawberry beds and around fruit trees and bushes.
  • Water developing fruit, especially those near walls or on dwarfing rootstocks, including any trees or bushes planted in the last 12 months, if the weather is dry for more than two weeks. Soak each area thoroughly, don’t just wet the surface.
  • Tie in new growth on trained apples and pears.
  • Harvest gooseberries and early strawberries.
 

June

  • Peg down strawberry runners you want to keep, and remove the rest.
  • Weed strawberry beds and around fruit trees and bushes.
  • Continue to water developing fruit if dry.
  • Thin fruit for larger, tastier crops. Thin desert apples to 10-15cm apart, culinary apples to 15-20cm; pears to one or two fruit per cluster; plums to about 8cm apart.
  • Tie in new growth loosely, as it develops, on blackberries, hybrid berries, grapes and raspberries.
  • Prune mature plum trees.
  • Summer-prune gooseberries, red- and whitecurrants grown as cordons.
  • Harvest black-, red- and whitecurrants, gooseberries, summer raspberries and strawberries.
 

July

  • Plan how you are going to look after your fruit garden during the summer. Plants in containers may need watering every day, but a visit once or twice a week should keep outdoor plants ticking over. If you can organise a rota, there should be lots of fruit for helpers to pick.
  • Net grapes and pears against birds and wasps. Remove in autumn once picking is finished.
  • Weed strawberry beds and around fruit trees and bushes.
  • Continue to water developing fruit if dry.
  • Check ties on fruit trees are not too tight.
  • Continue to tie in new growth on blackberries, hybrid berries, grapes and raspberries.
  • Summer-prune cordon currants and gooseberries and trained pears.
  • Continue to prune mature plum trees.
  • Harvest blueberries, currants, gooseberries, plums, summer raspberries and strawberries.
  • Cut back strawberry plants and compost all the debris. Sever any rooted runners you want to keep and pot up, or plant in a new bed.
 

August

  • Take a break, but browse a few internet sites, look at gardening books and visit some gardens, for ideas and inspiration.
  • Continue to summer-prune trained pears.
  • Harvest early apples, blackberries, blueberries, hybrid berries, early pears, early plums and summer raspberries.
 

September

  • Plant out strawberries – they’ll produce a small crop next summer, and more in following years. Also plant raspberries.
  • Summer-prune trained apples.
  • Cut down old canes on blackberry, hybrid berry and summer raspberry plants to ground level once all the fruit is picked, and tie in new shoots.
  • Winter-prune currants and gooseberries.
  • Harvest mid-season apples, blackberries, blueberries, grapes, hybrid berries, early pears, midseason plums and autumn raspberries.
  • Tidy up strawberry beds if not done in July.
 

October

  • Plan changes or additions to your plot and order fruit trees and bushes from mail order.
  • Suppliers. Apples on dwarfing rootstocks can be grown in pots. Autumn raspberries, blueberries, gooseberries and strawberries also do well in containers.
  • Dig over beds where new fruit is to be planted, removing weeds and incorporating bulky organic material.
  • Put up post and wire supports where you intend to plant blackberries, hybrid berries or raspberries
  • Plant blackberries, grapes, hybrid berries and raspberries.
  • Continue to plant strawberries. For earlier crops plants some in pots and move inside in just after Christmas.
  • Continue to prune blackberries, currants, gooseberries and hybrid berries.
  • Harvest late apples, blackberries, grapes, mid-season and late pears, and autumn raspberries.
  • Build raised beds to make cultivation easier, especially on poor soil.
  • Set up water butts to collect rainwater. Make sure they have a tight-fitting lid and a tap you can fit a watering can beneath.

November

  • Plant fruit trees and bushes any time from now to February, unless the ground is frozen or waterlogged. Plant rhubarb.
  • Continue to plant blackberries and hybrid berries.
  • Winter-prune trained and free-standing apples and pears.
  • Prune grapes.
  • Continue to prune currants and gooseberries.
  • Harvest late pears.
  • Set up a compost heap to recycle all your garden waste.
  • Collect fallen leaves to make leaf mold. Stuff them into black plastic bags, water if dry and leave in a cool, shady spot for a year or so then use as a mulch.
  • Carry out maintenance on paths, raised beds and other structures before the worst of the winter weather sets in.
 

December

  • Continue to plant fruit trees and bushes.
  • Continue to prune apples, currants, gooseberries, grapes and pears.
  • Check your tool kit and see what needs cleaning, sharpening, mending or replacing. Painting tool handles bright colours makes them less likely to be lost or borrowed.
 

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