‘Restricts growth’: Monty Don warns now is ‘last opportunity’ to prune certain fruit trees

Gardeners' World: Monty Don advises on jobs to complete in March

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Gardeners’ World lead host Monty Don shared more seasonal gardening tips on the latest episode of the hit BBC show. The 66-year-old shared how to create a bog garden, how to plant hydrangeas and how to suppress weeds, among other tips. With spring well and truly here, there are certain jobs gardeners have limited time to complete, including pruning certain fruit trees.

Monty explained: “We’re now coming to the point of the year when it really is the last opportunity to do some winter pruning of apple or pear trees because when you prune in winter, which is while they’re dormant before they start growing, that will stimulate growth.

“If you’re pruning in summer where they’re in full leaf around about July time, that restricts it.

“You can see that the growth on this is a mass of new shoots, and in time this tree will become a complete tangle of growth.

“In essence, it won’t harm the tree but it will definitely reduce the quantity and quality of the fruit because fruit needs as much sunshine as possible to ripen.

“And it also needs as much air as possible and that will restrict fungal problems, in particular.

“Apples produce their fruit on spurs and a spur is the knobbly bit.”

Monty showed viewers that the spur is the swollen part just before a shoot.

He said there won’t be spurs along new shoots which means none of the new growth will bear any fruit this year.

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So gardeners need to “remove the clutter” from the tree.

Monty left the “twiggy, knobbly, lumpy bits” behind which will product fruit and removed the new shoots along each branch.

He added: “Ideally, along the main branch, you want a whole series of normally side shoots and that will give you maximum harvest.

“All shoots going inward, I’m going to take out.”

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Monty said he is looking to create a “goblet” shape when trimming.

The open shape ensures maximum airflow and light.

The apple trees at Longmeadow are positioned in a border so Monty prunes them down so they don’t get “too big”.

He continued: “I try and top them off to the same height as the top of the hedge.

“It means that every year I have to cut them back because of course apple trees like any tree wants to grow upwards.

“With any luck, it should produce lots of healthy fruits.

“The truth is that most of the jobs in the garden at this time of year are in preparation for a good harvest or a really good display.”

Gardeners’ World can be streamed on BBC iPlayer

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