Harvesting and Pruning Fruit In September
The following fruit trees and bushes provide you with delicious juicy fruit in late summer. September is a good month to devote extra care and attention to these plants to ensure lovely home-grown fruit next season too.
Home grown fruit
If you fancy your own supplies of freshly picked fruit, take a look around your garden and consider where you could plant a fruit tree or fruit bush. Fresh fruit is delicious, nutritious and very decorative, and requires very little work to give you a wonderful harvest.
Apples and pears
Apples and pears can be harvested from late September into October.
If the stem detaches easily from the tree the fruit is ripe. If you have to pull too hard the fruit is not yet fully ripe and should be left for a few days before trying again.
Tip: Do not leave fallen fruit to rot on the ground. It should be cleared up straight away to prevent fungal diseases.
Blackberries can be picked from mid-September onwards. Do not over-fill your bucket, as the berries at the bottom will get crushed and you will have instant blackberry juice! Blackberries can be eaten straight away, but they can also be frozen, and they are excellent for making jam and juice.
Fruits never ripen all at the same time, so if you only have just a few plants and a large family, you will hardly ever have enough for everyone. Freezing is the answer. Once you have harvested enough you can defrost them all and treat the whole family.
Raspberries can be picked as soon as they turn a nice pink colour. If you leave a short length of stem on the fruits when you pick them, this will prevent the juice from being pressed out of the fruits at the bottom of your basket.
The fruit-bearing branches die off after the harvest so it is best to remove them immediately after the fruits have been picked. Doing this will also encourage the development of new runners.
Make sure your grapes get as much sun as possible. Remove leaves close to the bunches and your grapes will be bigger and sweeter.
From September onwards thin your grapes out. If they are packed too closely together they will be more susceptible to rotting. Remove surplus and diseased grapes using pointed scissors.
You will probably find ripe plums in your plum tree until mid-September. Pick them carefully, leaving the stems on. Make sure you do not remove any twigs or leaves, as this will also remove the next season's buds.
Take care not to damage the plums with your nails. This makes the fruit more susceptible to mould.
After the plums have been picked, the tree can be pruned. Only prune where this is strictly necessary. A poorly fruiting plum tree will not produce more fruit if it is pruned. On the contrary, pruning encourages vegetative growth and this may cause the tree to produce less fruit.
What to remove when you prune fruit trees and bushes
• Suckers (branches that develop under the graft union)
• Dead, diseased and broken branches, and branches that cross one another
• Vertically growing branches close to the trunk, and low-hanging branches
• Vertical leaders that obstruct sunlight
If you intend to prune a plum tree, do it on a hot, dry day. Pruning wounds will heal quicker.