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Living: In The Garden - Just Scrumptious!; Enjoying the fruits of your hard work GET fruity with me in the garden this summer! Whether it's apples, strawberries or raspberries, there's no time to lose.

Byline: Howard Drury

APPLES

THERE can't be many country kids who haven't heard of scrumping.

You always used to scrump the best fruit - and for city folk, that meant pinching it while the owner wasn't looking.

That, of course, is not to be recommended.

I know a number of my mates used to get thick ears and sore bottoms.

But now they've just named a new apple Scrumptious.

As the name suggests, it's simply the best-tasting apple that's ever been put on the market! Bred in Kent by Hugh Ermen, a private breeder who has dedicated his life to improving the English apple, it's perfect for garden growing with no disease problems and great cropping power.

Scrumptious is said to be ready for eating in September, when it can be eaten straight from the tree - and it should continue in store until the middle of October.

For a slightly later apple, try planting the autumn Red Elstar. It's a remarkable mid-season apple with intense sweet flavour and almost a tang of honey in it.

Trees crop at a young age and the fruit can be picked straight from the tree in late September, although it's best eaten in October and early November.

If you want to beat the supermarkets, you can now grow your own Braeburn apples!

Previously, all the Braeburn apples sold in supermarkets throughout Britain were imported from South Africa or New Zealand.

But due to the high demand for its crispy texture and tangy flavour, it's now being made available to growers and home gardeners throughout the UK.

What's more, it seems to grow better in the UK, boasting a rosier skin and keeping its superb crisp texture even when stored until March or April.

I'll be ripping out a couple of canker-infected trees from my garden and replacing them with Braeburn, Red Elstar and Scrumptious.

Bear in mind, however, that where replanting apple with apple, it's necessary to manure the ground thoroughly after soaking it in Armillatox.

Planting can commence three weeks after treating the soil with this sterilant - and I should be picking my first apples in a couple of years time!

STRAWBERRIES

HARDLY before you get to the end of the strawberry picking season and it's time to plant for the following season!

The advantage of planting strawberries in late July, August and early September is that you can expect a small crop the following season.

But if you leave it until the end of September, it's essential to de-flower strawberries so they don't waste their energy and literally fruit to death.

New from Marshalls this year is Claire-Maree - a variety which would have been introduced last year if rabbits hadn't burrowed into the trial grounds and eaten the lot!

Named after the granddaughter of clever breeder Dr Derek Jennings of Medway Fruits, it's a variety with superb flavour and large fruits which are very sweet.

It's a perfect partner for Marshmello, which crops about seven to ten days later. If you were to grow the two together, you could be picking strawberries for up to six weeks or more.

Cambridge Favourite is another good old reliable variety, as is Royal Sovereign, although the latter must have well-drained soil or it's prone to rotting.

I'm going to try a few plants of Bolero - an ever-bearing strawberry that heralds a breakthrough in breeding. It will start cropping in June and should produce several flushes of fruit right throughout the season.

The berries are not large but are said to be of excellent flavour.

RASPBERRIES

FOR some years I've been a fan of Autumn Bliss - of the fruity variety!

If it's carefully pruned, you can crop it as a summer raspberry by removing only half the canes and as an autumn raspberry by completely removing the old fruited canes in the spring.

Autumn Bliss has been around almost 20 years but now its successor Joan J is said to have a 20 per cent higher yield.

You should be picking raspberries from Joan J right into the end of October!

I tend to avoid many of the Scottish-bred cultivars such as Glen Ample, Glen Moy and Glen Magna, which seem to be huge-fruited but with very little flavour. Raspberry canes, of course, are put in during the autumn - but it does pay now to dig out any raspberries that haven't performed well. It's possible, having manured the ground sufficiently and making sure there's good drainage, to grow raspberries where there have been raspberries before.

It pays, however, to treat the ground with Armillatox to thoroughly sterilise it against any root-rotting pathogens that may be present.

WANT MORE ADVICE?

Contact Marshall & Co Ltd, Freepost, PE787, Wisbech Cambs PE13 2BR or call customer services on 01945 583 407.

Highfield Nurseries, School Lane Whitminster Glocs GL2 7PL, also supply fruit. Ring them on 01452 740 266.

Both firms offer good mail order services.

ACT NOW... caterpillars are rampant at this time of the year but it's unlikely you'll find one as big as this monster in your garden
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Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Jul 15, 2001
Words:839
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