The cherries have started to grow!

Even though they’re not the most exciting-looking flowers they cause great excitement when they appear. They even inspire cherry blossom festivals around the world, most notably in Japan.

They’re actually one of the last tree fruits to flower, coming in at around the same time as the apples and pears. They’re way after the apricots, peaches, and plums.

That’s a good thing because it can help to miss the frosts.

Katie showing how easy it is to grow cherries by pointing out the flowers on this young cherry tree
Katie showing how easy it is to grow cherries by pointing out the flowers on this young cherry tree

Despite being one of the last fruits to flower, they’re the first fruit we harvest.

Cherries are a kind of miracle fruit, with a super-short growing season. This makes them a “must-have” garden fruit tree, particularly if you live in a climate with a short growing season.

Just a few short weeks after they’ve started flowering, you’ll notice the flowers fade away. In their place, you’ll find these little green lumps on stems – the baby cherries.

When cherries start to grow, they start out tiny and green
When cherries start to grow, they start out tiny and green

Nothing much seems to happen for a while….until suddenly one day you’ll notice a flash of pink in the trees. An exciting day for a keen fruit grower!

Farmer Ant admiring his ripening cherries growing
Farmer Ant admiring his ripening cherries growing

What’s the downside of growing cherries?

Cherry growing sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it?

Unfortunately, there’s a long list of things that can go wrong with cherries, both the trees and fruit:

  • The biggest challenge is protecting the precious fruit from birds.
  • Then there’s all the things that want to eat your fruit (other than us), like earwigs and garden weevils;
  • They’re very vulnerable to weather events like rain and hail, as the fruit splits easily;
  • The trees hate having “wet feet”, so you’ll need to find a spot with good drainage;
  • They also need enough water, which in most cases means an irrigation system;
  • The fruit can be vulnerable to diseases like brown rot;
  • The trees are frequently attacked by aphids;
  • Cherry trees can get several fungal and bacterial diseases.

It’s a long list of potential disasters (and we’ve experienced most of them), but don’t worry. Once you know what to expect, many of these problems are avoidable.

Planning for a good cherry crop

  1. Make sure you have the right polliniser tree (it’s easy to graft a polliniser onto your existing tree, which we explain in this blog);
  2. In most cases, you’ll probably have to net the trees;
  3. Barriers around the trunk prevent crawling insects from eating the fruit;
  4. Check the soil around the trees to make sure it drains well in excessive rain;
  5. Install an irrigation system;
  6. Promote biodiversity around your trees with varied plantings.

If you have a cherry tree, you’ll find all the cherry-specific information you need in the Cheeky Cherries short course. You’ll be pleased to hear that most of the above-mentioned problems have a fairly simple solution.

Fully grown, ripe, delicious, sweet, black cherries - this is what it's all about
Fully grown, ripe, delicious, sweet, black cherries – this is what it’s all about

Are cherry trees worth the bother?

It sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it? Kind of makes you wonder whether it’s worth all the hard work and bother.

Take it from us, it is! Cherries are delicious!

They’re also fantastically good for you, being very high in nutrients and vitamins, and will even reputedly cure gout (and a number of other ailments).

You should get good crops most years, and they are usually easy to pollinate (as long as you have the right companion tree). Once the trees are established properly, you’ll find them easy to prune and maintain a good shape.

They’re also synonymous with summer holidays, and bring back fond memories of long warm days and visits to “pick-your-own” farms (we’ve offered this on our farm for many years).

So despite their finicky nature, it’s totally worth your while having a cherry tree in the garden, as they’re one of the most rewarding fruits to grow.

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