• Fruit of the Vine

    29th July 2009In The GardenStephanie Donaldson

    After years of harvesting small, decidedly sour grapes, it looks as if this year is going to be different. The strawberry grape, also known as Fragole, which grows in a very large pot in the courtyard, is bearing bunches of grapes large enough to make a Frenchman smile.

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    I can’t be sure, but part of the reason they are doing so well might be the advice I picked up off a Californian website which recommended pinching out the end of each bunch while still in flower. Of course there is some time to go before they ripen, but they already look like proper bunches of grapes and are swelling fast. The strawberry grape has a delicious musky flavour and is worth growing if you can get hold of it.

    Also on the fruit front, the apricots are looking amazing.



    I’m not sure how much more they will ripen on the tree – although the right colour, they are still quite firm. I will probably pick them over the weekend and leave them for a couple of days to see if they soften – if not, there are enough to make a couple of tarts. Following advice from Mark Diacono, who runs the UK’s only climate change farm, Otter Farm, I pruned back the branches by about half on a dry, breezy day (damp weather should be avoided). I want to keep the tree reasonably compact and sturdy. As a stone fruit, like cherries, peaches and plums, apricots must be pruned while in active growth.