Autumn fruits seem a long way off as I pack for summer holidays (yeah!), but one job I must do before I go is a simple one that can help increase the quality of the autumn fruits  from my garden. One job? Yes just one!

You don’t have autumn fruits in your garden? Read on for some ideas to add this delight to your space.

Thin small fruits to support a good crop of autumn fruits

It’s called 'the June Drop’ among old garden hands: suddenly small apples, plums and pears have dropped off their branches. Tiny autumn fruits are scattered on the ground: horror story? No, nature’s way of ensuring that the tree can support a smaller number of bigger and stronger fruits, so increasing the chances of the seeds (or stones in the case of plums) making it into a new tree.

And it might not happen in June: depending on the variety of tree, when the fruit began to form and the weather, June Drop continues into July.


autumn fruits

Thin small and crowded fruits to encourage fewer but larger and stronger fruits. Sarah Buchanan

If your tree didn’t do the DIY thinning, this is a quiet job for you! Simply look long and hard at your tree and gently pull off, or carefully cut with scissors not secateurs, the smallest fruits and those which are touching another fruit or are marked in some way. Stand back and look again – it's hard to nip off a fruit you have been nurturing, but a smaller number of larger fruits is much better for you and the tree than lots of tiny fruits.

autumn fruits

And here we are: same tree, same bunch, thinned to two fruits. Sarah Buchanan

Thinning plums is especially important if the crop is very heavy: the weight of the plums as they ripen in August and September may otherwise break the branches.

Plant and enjoy autumn fruits in the smallest of garden spaces

No autumn fruits in your patch? There is no excuse not to grow some of your own in even the smallest patch.

Grow trees for autumn fruits in pots

Depending on the variety, and using a big pot and careful watering, apple, pear, and plum trees can be grown in pots on patios and balconies. Trees in pots stay smaller than trees in the ground so don't fear a giant tree blocking your light! And when you move – you take it with you!

Choose container grown trees now, or find out about the varieties you like and buy and plant in the autumn or early spring.

Choose the right pollinator

This is the technical bit. The main thing to remember when choosing a fruit tree - for a pot or the garden - is to make sure that the tree you choose can be pollinated by another nearby or is ‘self pollinating’. Read the labels to find out which ‘pollination group’ your tree is in. The RHS suggest buying two trees (same or different varieties) in the same pollination group (which means they can pollinate each other), and provide a list of fruit trees suited to container growing to help ensure you choose the right pollinators.

Grow small trees for autumn fruits

Small gardens are ideally suited to trees that are pruned and trained to fruit on fewer branches than a conventional bush or pyramid shaped tree. 'Ballerina' trees  are a bit different in that they naturally grow in a column shape. Ideally, buy a tree that has been trained and pruned to the shape you want. You will need to keep it in shape with regular pruning, but it doesn't take long and, with sharp secateurs and following the instructions that should come with your tree, it is not too difficult. When kept in shape and well cared for, these small trees produce a good crop.

autumn fruits

An apple tree grown as an upright cordon will fit in most garden spaces and reward you with autumn fruits. Sarah Buchanan.