This year, both our fruit trees gave us delightful produce, despite pest problems.

Aphid removal follow-up

At the end of May, our dwarf cherry (Stella) had aphids on top. My gentle soap and water wash worked. Whilst the leaves with the infestation withered, the fruit continued to grow and ripen.

The gooseberry tree, a standard, necessitated aphid removal by carefully wiping the top of the fruit with the corner of a dry paper towel. This was not the easiest operation, particularly as gooseberry trees and shrubs have spiky thorns.

(Photo credit: Ornamental Trees UK)


Our red gooseberry tree is in its third year of production. It gave us fruit in its first summer, only months after I planted it.

In 2013, we had 100g of gooseberries. Last year, 300g. In 2015, our harvest amounted to 685g, enough for three gooseberry crumbles! I was able to pick the berries in late June, early July and over the past weekend.

For those who have not tried gooseberries before, they are tart and delicious. They are a traditional English fruit. That said, one of my father’s cousins remembered gooseberry pie as standard at a café in America’s Midwest in the 1940s and 1950s. Yet, I’d never heard of them until I moved to the UK.

They freeze well. Top and tail them before putting them in a bag and tucking them away for later. A gooseberry tart or crumble in winter is a delightful reminder of summer.

Some people prefer making jam or chutney, both of which go well with grilled mackerel fillets. The tartness cuts through the fish’s oiliness.

Gooseberries are increasingly hard to find at supermarkets and greengrocers. Most of what is on offer is the green variety. I recently saw red gooseberries online priced at £4.50 for 50g! The tree cost under £10 — I’m quids in!

A gooseberry standard takes up only a square metre of space and is well worth planting, especially since they yield fruit in the first year. I planted mine in November. They come with a bare root, so will require plenty of all-purpose compost.

They require very little maintenance. I give mine some fertiliser in the spring and away it goes.


After two years of waiting for cherries, this year our dwarf produced 110g — 15 fruits.

They are large, dark and sweet — just the way I like them.

Buying the dwarf tree was a bit controversial. My better half said they were troublesome to grow: a long wait for fruit (true) and limited lifespan (several years at most). We’ll see. I am considering transplanting it to another part of the garden in September so it has more room. Removal of another tree has opened up a new space.

Ordering advice

Make sure fruit trees are described as ‘self fertile’ before ordering. A catalogue or online display will state this.

Herbs and garlic

In other news, our herbs are having a particularly good season.

Our garlic harvest is imminent. We can hardly wait!

Our tomato and cucumber plants are coming along slowly.

It’s really worthwhile planting something edible in the garden, even where space is limited. Not only does it save money but it is also intriguing to watch the plants grow, flower and produce fruit.