Cherries are not widely grown in gardens, which is a shame because they are a delicious fruit. One reason for this is that in the past most gardens could not fit a large full-size cherry tree. This also caused problems with birds stealing the entire crop since netting an entire tree it’s so difficult. These days, dwarf fruit stocks have been developed that allow much smaller fruit trees to be grown. This makes it very worthwhile to grow cherries in any garden.
There are two main types of cherries: sweet cherries and acid or sour cherries. The sour, or “Morello” varieties are designed for cooking or bottling; sweet cherries are perfect for eating raw.
Sweet cherries are the preferred variety, but sour cherries are less vigorous, making them easier to grow in a small garden. Sour cherries are also self'”fertile, so only a single tree is necessary.
If room for a full-size tree is not available, the best technique is to grow sweet cherries by training them as a fan against a warm wall. This allows their size to be easily controlled and the entire tree can be covered against hungry birds. Remember that sweet cherries need at least two varieties for effective pollination. However, there are a few select varieties of self-pollinating sweet cherries.
Like most fruit trees, cherry trees will grow from seed, or a fully established fruit tree can be purchased.
The ideal place to grow cherries is against their warm sunny wall. Growing cherry trees in a greenhouse is also a great choice. The soil should be well drained, but also sufficiently moist. Cherry trees can be rather picky. A full-size cherry tree needs about 9m of space. Smaller varieties or cherry trees trained into fan shapes need only about 4.5m.
When to plant cherry tree will depend on the variety, consult your local garden supplier. Be sure to stake newly planted trees so that they won’t be damaged by the wind. Well'”rotted manure or other organic materials make great mulch, and also helps to retain moisture that is essential for fruit to grow. Water your cherry tree during dry spells. Try to maintain an even a level of moisture. Sudden swings of water or droughts will cause the fruit to crack and ruin your crop. It is not necessary to thin out charities.
How to Prune Cherry Trees
Pruning cherry trees will require very little work. And all you need to do is remove any dead or damaged growth.
When trained as fans, cut back growth to five leaves each summer. Sour cherries grow on year-old wood; remove some of the older wood each year so that new growth will be produced. One-year-old shoots that produced fruit should be cut back to the first new growth after picking the fruits of summer. In the early summer prune the number of new side shoots to about one every 8 cm. Remove any growth that points away from or towards the wall to ensure a nice flat shape. Cut back any shoots that appear from the bottom of the tree. Bush or full-size cherry trees will need almost no pruning.
Harvesting and Storage
Sweet cherries should be picked as soon as they become ripe. Early morning is one of the best times to pick cherries because the leaves will be standing up and reveal the fruit underneath. If you wait until later in the day, they heat tends to cause leaves to wilt and hang over the fruits, making harvest difficult. Pick the fruit with the stems remaining on. This avoids tearing, which can encourage diseases to take hold. Sour cherry stems are extra fragile and should be cut rather than pulled. Cherries can be bottled or frozen for long-term storage, but should be pitted first.
Pests and Diseases
Birds are by far the worst problem facing a cherry tree. If they are allowed, they will eat each and every cherry. Aphids are another pest to look out for. Growing cherry trees in a greenhouse will help solve many pest problems.
Silverleaf is a serious fungal disease that can affect cherry trees; along with brown rot and canker, they are the most likely diseases to watch out for.