Good time of year to plant a cherry tree

Stella cherries
Stella cherries

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Well, here at Waterlooville we had a frost which ruined the runner beans and dahlias at the allotment.

Everything looks a bit sad at the moment. But never mind, the dahlia tubers will all be dug out and stored in deep boxes of dry peat all winter.

At home, the dahlias in the centre of the garden were frosted. But those near the bungalow and right at the top of the garden are still flowering well, as are the begonias of all types. What wonderful value for money they are.

Now, a couple of questions. Have you got a panel of fencing with nothing growing on it and do you enjoy eating sweet cherries? If the answer is yes, this is a very good time of year to plant a cherry tree.

Make sure you get a variety called Stella or Cherokee because these are self-pollinating sweet dessert cherries whereas Morello is a cooking cherry.

Before you decide not to read any further, we are not going to plant a cherry tree which will have a long trunk – thus risking you falling off the steps when picking the fruit.

Instead we are going to buy a ‘bottom worked’ tree which we can keep to the same size as a panel of fencing by training the branches.

It’s very easy to do. Cherries like a sunny spot in well-prepared soil. Dig in plenty of well-rotted compost and add half-a-pound of blood, fish and bonemeal mixed into the soil when planting.

Use screw vine eyes, available at garden centres, 10in apart on the fence posts and stretch wires across the panel.

Plant the cherry at the centre and tie 6ft long canes on to the wires like the spines on a fan.

Then tie the branches to the canes. Nip out the top inch of each branch once they are in full leaf next spring.

Side branches will begin to grow. During the third week in July, simply nip out the very tip of all the side branches and repeat this every July.

Ah, but when will I be picking cherries you ask?

Providing the tree has netting after the flowers form, you will be eating cherries in 2013. Something to look forward to and your garden will be like hundreds of others in Portsmouth at the time when Charles Dickens was here.

Because of the many market gardens alongside the canal near the Bridge Centre, cherries were widely grown in the city.

If you prefer plums, these too can be planted and pruned in exactly the same way. But the trouble is that garden centres and most popular catalogues sell plum trees on 6ft-long trunks.

If you’d like details of an Isle of Wight family firm that sells cherries, plums and even apricots on short stems drop me a line c/o The News with an SAE and I’ll send you the information.